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The Reliability of Data Centres

The Uptime Institute have a tiered system that represents how resilient each data centre is. There are four levels that can be awarded, with the third tier being the most common. This means that the data centre has multiple delivery paths for cooling and power, plus it has redundant critical components which means that there is very limited downtime. The system is well known in the industry; there are other forms of showing resiliency, but this is the most popular.

However, there is a problem. Some data centres are mischievous, claiming a certain level when in fact they have never been certificated. The Uptime Institute says that some data centres are making false claims or bending the truth about their resiliency. This means that consumers might be storing their data with them, expecting a certain level of protection, only to not get it when disaster strikes.

A number of data centres are trying to make this issue better known. It is potentially bad for business, because it is drawing consumers away from those who are legitimately certified. “At a time when more enterprises are moving at scale to an outsourcing option, the stakes couldn’t be higher,” said Julian Kudritzki, Uptime Institute’s chief operating officer.

Some data centres are proudly displaying that they have Uptime “design” certification, which means that their plans met criteria. However, it doesn’t mean that they actually implemented it that way, which means that sometimes data centres won’t follow up in order to get the “constructed facility” certification. These design certifications are not designed to be marketing a data centre once it’s up and running, which is another thing Julian Kudritzki takes issue with.

Because the tier system is so well known in the industry, some data centres just use it as short hand to describe their quality, even if they haven’t actually been awarded it. It is often that you will find description pages on websites claiming that quality is up to a certain tier level, but it’s questionable whether they were actually certified. Properly certified facilities go through on-site testing in order to be awarded an official tier.

Chris Crosby, founder of Compass Datacenters, argues that the system needs to be better policed or else the certifications are going to become meaningless. He claims that if customers can’t trust their data centre then it is going to have a negative impact on the whole industry. Indeed, it’s a valid claim. If there’s no proof that the tier certification is genuine, it’s meaningless for data centres to use it to stand out from the crowd.

The Uptime Institute does charge a fee for the certification, so some data centres may just not want to pay it. However, the fees of such a certification are nothing compared to the cost of running a data centre.

Kudritzki says that The Uptime Institute usually don’t file lawsuits against data centres, but that they have asked some facilities to make clear that they don’t hold official certification.

If you are looking to use a data centre and want to see whether it officially made the grade, you can view the design certification and constructed certification at The Uptime Institute’s website.

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