Switch announces plans to rival Uptime Institute’s data centre standards


Switch is introducing a new proprietary Tier 5 data centre standard which is claimed to encompass the resiliency and redundancy in other data centre ratings systems, but also evaluates more than 30 additional key elements, such as long-term power system capabilities, the number of available carriers, zero roof penetrations, the location of cooling system lines in or above the data centre, physical and network security and 100% use of renewable energy.

Switch says that its industry background and experience provides a unique position to evaluate and develop data centre standards. It has more than 260 patented and patent pending claims and pioneered 100% hot aisle containment rows and exterior wall penetrating multi-mode HVAC units. In 2014, Switch became the first acarrier-neutral colocation facility to be certified Tier IV Gold by the Uptime Institute.

Major threats to data centre uptime include water damage, reliance on too few telecommunication carriers, being located in a high-risk geo zone, and inadequate physical and network security. Switch says that these mission critical elements are not being evaluated in other tiered data centre rating systems. It claims this makes it difficult for chief information officers and data centre managers to understand the “deep dive differences” between colocation product offerings when selecting a provider. Switch is introducing this new Tier 5 standard in an effort to address this issue.

The new Tier 5 standard will form the foundation for creating a new Data Centre Standards Foundation (DCSF).  This will be an independent, non-profit standards body led by leading technology companies and industry experts, including the original authors of the Uptime Institute.

Vince Renaud, co-author of the original Uptime Institute operational sustainability standards and former CTO of the Uptime Institute from 2009 to 2013, commented: “The various industry metrics have become stale…Switch’s Tier 5 standard injects critical parameters to enhance availability and reliability for the colocation industry.”

Responding to the announcement, Lee Kirby, President of Uptime Institute, issued the following statement:“Uptime Institute is the author of and certification body for the world’s most trusted data centre performance standard and has been certifying data centres for over 20 years. To date, we have certified over 1000 data centres in over 85 countries. We provide the industry’s only quantitative management, operations and efficiency assessments using a time-proven methodology…Uptime Institute provides vendor neutrality, global consistency, and the necessary depth of data centre expertise needed to efficiently design, build and manage IT infrastructure.

“The Uptime Institute Tier Standards continue to grow, expand and innovate. Based on performance objectives and behaviors, the Tier Standards are flexible and embrace the market’s latest technology developments. New technologies and applications that have been certified by Uptime Institute range from unique approaches in cooling to new standards for management and operations, to sustainability innovation with Efficient IT. Because every data centre is different, with varying complexities and issues based on variables like local characteristics or build parameters, Uptime Institute’s Tier Standards are designed to be highly flexible in their approach, avoiding the need to be rewritten as the topology expands. Additionally, we train the backbone of the data centre – offering courses worldwide with thousands of graduates from the most rigorous datacenter curriculum.”

He added that the Uptime Institute is an “unbiased advisory organisation” and argued that “any non-profit driven and funded by a private entity with a specific agenda of its own isn’t an unbiased organisation.”


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