Paper Certifications in Data Centers


Costa Rica, 3 de octubre 2016 – At the start of 2015, the Uptime Institute announced the establishment of a new policy for TIER Certification Design Documents (TCDD). This policy indicates that data centers built in the United States to sell lodging, cloud, or placement services, among others, would not receive the TIER Certification Design Documents. This is due to the incorrect use that was being made of the system. For example, some data centers were designed and built without regard, without abiding by the TIER standard or good construction practices, and were obtaining a TIER III and IV design certification for a clearly commercial purpose. In other words: it was a simple marketing strategy to sell more.

The Uptime Institute solved a growing problem when it decided to eliminate the TCDD for service data centers and established that only the Tier Certification Constructed Facility (TCCF) would be issued for these data centers.

Everything seemed perfect, with the exception that this new policy has a flaw: it only applies to the United States. In other regions, clients are still completely unprotected; it is very common to see the TIER III y TIER IV design certification notice in data centers everyday. While it is true that since 2014 the TCDD certification does expire, at least we have a two-year gap in which these companies take advantage of the time to sell their “high-availability” data centers.

In Latin America this design certification is widely abused, and even though the Uptime Institute is not responsible for this, it is crucial for all those involved in the industry to establish the correct use of the certification. To understand the magnitude of this problem for service providing companies, it must be noted that in Latin America, from over 60 TIER design certifications for service providers, barely 20 have had the constructed facilities certified, meaning that only 30% of the design certifications continue to the construction certification—a certification that proves that the data center was actually built in agreement with said recommendations. The other 70% is only a “paper certification.”

While the Uptime Institute decides to apply the same condition to every region, there are two very simple recommendations to comply with this objective:

1. Demand that the data center has a certification issued by the Uptime Institute for the constructed facilities.
2. If there is no such certification, have specialized and experienced personnel perform an independent audit.

Obviously, the only way to be 100% certain that the data center complies with the TIER requirements is for the facility to have a certified construction (TCCF); however, if this does not happen, the second option is to have professionals with experience in these types of projects perform audits. They can perform a real diagnosis of the infrastructure, thus determining if the data center complies with the minimum requirements of the TIER offered.

Let’s remember that all that glitters is not gold, and it is important to understand that, unfortunately, in Latin America, there are paper certifications.

By: Octavio Delgado