Has your data centre service provider jumped the Tier III bar?

 In MetroBlog

Glenn Aspland, Senior Facility Manager for Metronode explains why not all data centres are equal.

The increased demand for data centre services in Australia, driven by trends such as uptake of cloud solutions and on-demand network services, has drawn a number of newcomers into the market.

But data centres are extremely complex to build and operate – so how do you choose where to locate your business-critical systems and data? How can you tell whether a data centre facility has been tried and tested from design through build and now conducts its ongoing operations to a consistently high standard?

With high availability and reliability increasingly the new normal for organisations and the heavy reliance on the constant flow of digital data and communications for business operations and reputation, uptime is more important than ever. In fact, it’s critical.

When it comes to data centres, a key metric is uptime – which, in business terms relates directly to reliability. So how do you know if your data centre provider can really give you the level of availability and reliability you need?

Uptime Institute Tier system and related certifications

Data centre providers often talk in terms of Tiers – different levels that describe the likelihood that a data centre will remain up and available. Tier I is the lowest certification, Tier II is higher and so on. Tier III is often the minimum bar for regulatory compliance in certain industry sectors such as Government and Financial Services organisations.

Just because a service provider talks about the tiers that their data centre satisfies doesn’t mean that they actually do: Is it independently certified by a third-party? Is the provider’s Operations team on the same page? One of the best ways to ensure a data centre reaches the exacting standards of the tiers is whether or not the facilities have all three globally-recognised Uptime Institute certifications.

The Uptime Institute certifies data centres according to three categories:

  1. Design Documents: The design of a data centre facility to deliver sustainable business-critical infrastructure that will meet specific uptime goals
  2. Constructed Facility: Ensures the facility has been constructed as designed, verifying it’s capable of meeting the defined availability requirements
  3. Operational Sustainability: For data centres with Constructed Facility certification that further validates the centre has the most effective and efficient operations in place across three key categories: Management and Operations, Building Characteristics and Site Location

You can easily check which data centre providers actually have Tier III certification (as opposed to just talking about it) by checking here. Select a category then select ‘Australia’ in the filter.

As of September 2016, 18 Australian data centres had achieved Tier III for their Design Documents – including six Metronode facilities. However, only 14 had achieved Tier III for their Constructed Facility – eight of which are Metronode data centres.

When it comes to Operational Sustainability, the effort, experience and knowledge that must go into a facility in order to reach Tier III Gold represents a very high bar. The only Australian data centres to have made it over this bar by mid-2016 were two Metronode data centres in NSW.

Further, in assessing Operational Sustainability, the Uptime Institute rates each data centre as Gold, Silver or Bronze. This relates to the level of achievement within the audit process for the certification; Gold data centres don’t need to resubmit for three years, Silver for two years and Bronze for one year; After the expiry date, the data centre must undergo the assessment and certification process again.

Two of our data centre operations achieved Gold, and we’re now looking at undergoing certification for more of our facilities around Australia.

Tier III: The baseline for business operations

The advantage of Uptime certification is that it gives you assurance the data centre you’re considering is really up to the task – and that it will remain up and available for your business-critical operations.

Increasingly, a Tier III data centre is the baseline for modern business, designed, constructed and operated! In reality, this means reliability in the form of uptime for real-time and critical applications.

Like to know how we’ve done it? Contact us for a data centre tour and see our high reliability infrastructure and sustainable operations in action.

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