Tiers of joy: how risk reduction can save data centres money


A survey of data centre operators showed that one quarter experienced a data centre outage in the past 12 months. However, Tier certification can help mitigate risk and reduce costs, not only for large data centres but also for the latest modular installations.

The Uptime Institute has reported that Tier certifications have more than tripled in the past five years. The organisation, which issued its 1,000th certification in June this year, is experiencing substantial growth in all geographies worldwide. This growth reflects the global industry demand for predictable levels of performance. According to the Uptime Institute, this can only be achieved through an impartial assessment of the design, construction, overall efficiency, and operational reliability of business-critical infrastructure.

The Uptime Institute’s Tier Standard is designed to be flexible in approach and adaptable to the latest technologies and economics.

According to Uptime Institute president Lee Kirby: “The data centre industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. As the world becomes increasingly digital-centric, organisations want to treat data centres as a utility with guaranteed levels of performance and capacity.

“The Tier Standard continues to be the most recognised and adopted standard for assessing mission critical infrastructure. Its focus on price vs. performance enables organisations to align their IT costs structures with their business service delivery strategies. Our Tier Standards and the associated Operating Standards enable organisations to directly support their business growth through better design, construction, maintenance and optimisation of their data centre facilities.”

Reduced premiums

Fortrust, a Denver-based data centre solutions provider, operates a colocation facility that holds a Tier III Certification of Constructed Facility and has achieved Tier III Gold Certification of Operational Sustainability.

Fortrust chief operating officer Robert McClary says: “We’ve experienced firsthand how Uptime Institute’s Tier Standards and operational assessments can be a major competitive differentiator for us, increasing the value of our services for our customers and reducing our costs to deliver them.

“The certification process and risk mitigation work we’ve undertaken has dramatically improved our facility’s performance, efficiency and reliability. In fact, we even lowered the risks associated with downtime so significantly that our insurance provider reduced our policy premiums by more than 10%.”

As McClary points out, the Uptime Institute’s standards are building a case for driving down costs through reduced premiums. CNA, the eighth largest commercial insurance writer in the US, is just one of the companies offering more competitive insurance policy terms and pricing, in recognition that following Tier Standards can mitigate risk, reduce incidents and improve the performance of business-critical infrastructure.

Savings are dependent on a number of factors but the Uptime Institute claims that customers are seeing between 10-25% lower premiums on average. Furthermore, reductions in insurance costs are being seen across all major regions around the world.

As part of the Tier Standards procedures, experts from the Uptime Institute work directly with operators to review processes and determine what improvements can be made to run data centres more efficiently and reduce risk.

Tackling outages

It is imperative that data centre infrastructures are engineered and managed in accordance with strict guidelines and methodology to meet business continuity goals.

The Uptime Institute 2017 survey of more than 1,000 data centre operators showed that one quarter of all respondents experienced a data centre outage in the past 12 months. Data centres with Uptime Institute’s Tier Certification experienced half as many instances.

In fact, the Uptime Institute has found that 70% of data centre projects fail the Tier Certification assessment during the first round of demonstrations, requiring the owner to invest more time and money to alleviate the problem. This serves to demonstrate the complexity of these mission critical systems and highlights the difference between design and actual construction.

Tier standards: modular data centres

The Uptime Institute is now introducing a new review programme focused on the assessment and validation of specific designs from prefabricated and modular data centre manufacturers.

Modular data centres that carry ‘Tier-Ready’ status will demonstrate the same high level of performance once installed and certified at their intended deployment site.. The programme enables manufacturers to work with Uptime Institute to validate the specific designs of their pre-built solutions. Customers of these solutions will enjoy reduced time and cost for a certified data centre. Tier-Ready solutions are available from a wide variety of manufacturers, including Schneider Electric, Compass Data Centres and Huawei, with many other manufacturers already in the process for design review.

“Prefabricated and modular data centres have been on a growth trajectory for the past several years as organisations strive to bring business services closer to their constituents. As distributed technologies such as IoT and edge-computing become commonplace, these services must be delivered without incurring the traditional risk associated with remote infrastructures,” says Kirby.

Compass CEO Chris Crosby further highlights the importance of third-party validation, commenting: “The Tier-Ready award makes sense for Compass Datacentres as it helps to assure the resiliency and mission critical suitability for each 1.2MW block that we provide to our customers.”

Kevin Brown, chief technology officer and SVP innovation, Schneider Electric, adds: “Modular data centre solutions for remote and distributed infrastructure are an essential component of delivering modern applications and, in many cases, are deployed in unique operating conditions.

“This programme provides customers with a streamlined process to benchmark and validate the resiliency of their architecture.”

The new programme is also welcomed by Bob He, general manager, Datacentre Facility Business, Huawei: “By working with Uptime Institute to review our modular solutions, our customers can be more efficiently certified for their data centres and distribute their computing, without risk or the need to give up any expected performance and resiliency,” he comments.

Ultimately, the Uptime Institute’s Tier Certification continues to help reduce risk in mission critical data centres and is well recognised throughout the data centre sector. This latest programme will help to simplify and speed the Tier certification process, enabling customers who are in the market for modular data centres to enjoy the same level of reliability and resiliency that they get in larger data centres.



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