Data Center Certifications Provide Certainty in a Dynamic Market

By R. Lee Kirby, Chief Technology Officer, Uptime Institute

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The data center industry is now in its fourth decade, with many enterprise and outsource centers operating at a high level of maturity and sophistication around the globe. However, in any industry growing as fast as the data center sector there can still be a wide range of capabilities as organizations scramble to keep up with exploding demand, and multiple players—big and small—jockey for position. Data center industry growth shows no sign of abating, and is projected to continue at a blistering pace. Industry analysts predict anywhere from of 15-21% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), driven in particular by the colocation and cloud sectors.

With so many vendors and deployment options now available in this dynamic market, how can buyers really know what they’re getting from a data center wholesale or retail colocation vendor, or a hosted cloud provider? How can you have confidence that your critical business operations and data aren’t at risk?

Independent, third-party certifications are one way that enterprise-class organizations can distinguish themselves. Certifications confirm that a data center provider truly offers the reliability and robust performance that your business demands. Third party credentials such as Uptime Institute’s Tier Certifications and Management & Operations Stamp of Approval let you know that industry experts have witnessed and verified that best practice standards are in place for both facility infrastructure and day-to-day operations.

Key Concepts for Data Center Reliability

Certification not only provides assurance about the standards maintained at a single data center facility, but allows comparison and consistency across an entire data center portfolio, one unifying measure. The Uptime Institute’s certification standards are based on broad industry consensus, expert knowledge, and years of research into the causes of data center errors and failures.

Some of the key factors that determine the reliability of a data center include how well the infrastructure and systems are designed and built to provide redundancy, whether they support Concurrent Maintainability, which ensures maintenance can be performed without risk to critical systems, and that they are Fault Tolerant, meaning the failure of any single piece of key equipment will not cause wider system failures.

Yet, no matter how well designed and built a facility may be, ultimately it is the ongoing operations and management practices that can undermine how reliable the infrastructure is. In fact, the leading cause of data center downtime is human error. While it may be natural to think an incident of “human error” is just a front-line operator making an isolated mistake, in reality, errors happen when the organizational culture and leadership create an environment that allows them to happen.

Issues in the data center are most often the downstream aggregation of poor management decision-making and organizational misalignment. That’s why Uptime Institute’s M&O Stamp of Approval focuses on assessing and evaluating both operations and management as equally critical to ensuring data center reliability and performance.

Leading the Way Towards Operational Excellence

Recognizing the importance of operating excellence as the way to drive effective data center performance, organizations such as CenturyLink are having their entire data center portfolio reviewed. CenturyLink has asked Uptime Institute to assess 57 data center facilities across a global portfolio, and the company has committed to achieve M&O Stamp of Approval standards and certification across the board. We applaud CenturyLink for setting a high bar and driving excellence from the top of the organization on down. This decision shows the company is willing to hold itself to a consistent set of high standards and operate with transparency, giving customers the confidence in the security of their business-critical IT systems that only certification can provide.

For more information about the M&O Stamp of Approval visit: https://uptimeinstitute.com/consulting-certification/operations/management-operations

To follow CenturyLink’s progress in achieving M&O Stamp of Approval across 57 global data center facilities, visit: https://uptimeinstitute.com/centurylink.

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