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Switch Announces New Tier 5 Platinum Data Center Standard

“I was one of the Senior Electrical Engineers at Uptime Institute for over 20 years. I served as the Principal of Education and Training for Uptime. I created the Uptime Institute Tier Accreditation curriculum. I led the Topology and Operational Tier Certification projects. in those roles, I certified 80% of the Tier IV certifications in North America.

“After being involved in the certifications of so many other data centers, realized that Switch is the world’s first Tier 5 data center.”

When I certified Switch’s SUPERNAP 8 as Tier IV Gold in 2014, and Switch’s SUPERNAP 9 as Tier IV Gold in 2016, I realized there were no other data centers that matched Switch’s patented designs, facilities and operations. After being involved in the certifications of so many other data centers, I realized that Switch is the world’s first Tier 5 data center.”

– Ed Rafter, Former Senior Uptime Institute Electrical Engineer and Current VP of Critical Systems at Switch.
“Now that all of the original authors of the standard have left the Uptime Institute, the innovation has stagnated when it comes to evolving the standards.”

“The original standards were created for enterprise data centers. The options to the industry have expanded, and so to be relevant, the standards need to be expanded as well” said Hank Seader, the principal author and co-creator of the Uptime Institute standards. “When we developed the original standards for Ken Brill back in our early days as the Uptime Institute, I envisioned we would evolve the over time. Now that all of the original authors of the standard have left the Uptime Institute, the innovation has stagnated when it comes to evolving the standards. I was very excited to work with Switch on its Tier 5 Platinum standard as it is good to see some in the industry focusing on improving the transparency and accountability of such an important and mission critical part of all of our daily lives, the infrastructure that supports the Internet.”

– Hank Seader, Principal Author and Co-Creator of the Uptime Institute Standards
“Switch’s Tier 5 standard injects critical parameters necessary to enhance availability and reliability for the colocation industry.”

“Vince Renaud, former CTO and principal author of the Uptime Institute operational sustainability standards, who served in that capacity for eight years, agreed. “The various industry metrics have become stale. Switch’s Tier 5 standard injects critical parameters necessary to enhance availability and reliability for the colocation industry.”

– Vince Renaud, Former CTO and Principal Author of the Uptime Institute Operational Sustainability Standards

COOLING SYSTEMS

TIER 4 TIER 5
Not Required Data center can run forever without water
Not Required Outside air pollutant detection and protective response capable
Continuous cooling solution Continuous cooling solution
Physically diverse critical distribution pathways to the data floor Fault tolerant critical equipment and critical distribution paths for each system
12 hours of fault tolerant on-site and redundant makeup water capacity 12 hours of fault tolerant on-site and redundant makeup water capacity
Meets ASHRAE high and low temperature requirements Meets ASHRAE high and low temperature requirements
Capacity at ASHRAE N=20 dry bulb and maximum wet bulb Capacity at ASHRAE N=20 dry bulb and extreme maximum wet bulb
Each compartment contains no more than the number of redundant capacity components Each compartment contains no more than the number of redundant capacity components
If chilled water technology is used, the chiller capacity is calculated at ASHRAE maximum wet bulb temperature If chilled water technology is used, the chiller capacity is calculated at ASHRAE maximum wet bulb temperature
Automatic leak detection and automatic leak mitigation for all piping and CRAHs Automatic leak detection and automatic leak mitigation for all piping and CRAHs

POWER SYSTEMS

TIER 4 TIER 5
Not Required Both A & B power stays online during 90% of site maintenance
Not Required Stored energy system configured in an N+1
Not Required The stored energy system has a permanently installed monitor
Not Required Critical distribution path equipped with features to provide circuit monitoring from UPS to power panel branch circuits.
Not Required Multiple stations at three separate, fully functional, locations control and monitor facility for standby generation power
Not Required Multiple stations within the electrical backbone for switchgear control and monitoring at three separate locations, each station being fully functional
Fault tolerant standby power generation Fault tolerant standby power generation
Fault tolerant critical power path Fault tolerant critical power path
Fault tolerant station standby power path and switchgear Fault tolerant standby power path and switchgear
Fault tolerant UPS Fault tolerant UPS
Fault tolerant power paths from power sources to UPS input and mechanical loads Fault tolerant power paths from power sources to UPS input and mechanical loads
Fault tolerant power sources for ancillary building systems Fault tolerant power sources for ancillary building systems
12 hour fault tolerant standby power 100 hour fault tolerant standby power
Dual, diverse power path Dual, diverse power path
Tie circuit breaker separation ensures maintaining one does not expose personnel to energized parts on the other Tie circuit breaker separation ensures maintaining one does not expose personnel to energized parts on the other
Distribution circuit breaker separation prevents personnel exposure to energized parts during maintenance Distribution circuit breaker separation prevents personnel exposure to energized parts during maintenance
Each compartment contains no more than the number of redundant capacity components Each compartment contains no more than the number of redundant capacity components
Capacity at ASHRAE N=20 dry bulb, maximum wet bulb and altitude Capacity at ASHRAE N=20 dry bulb,  maximum wet bulb and altitude
Standby power has a continuous or unlimited runtime rating Standby power has a continuous or unlimited runtime rating
UPS has sufficient stored energy capacity to sustain continuous availability until alternative energy source supports site operations UPS has sufficient stored energy capacity to sustain continuous availability until alternative energy source supports site operations
UPS and switchgear is compartmentalized UPS and switchgear is compartmentalized
Distribution circuit breaker separation prevents personnel exposure to energized parts during maintenance Distribution circuit breaker separation prevents personnel exposure to energized parts during maintenance

CARRIER SERVICES

TIER 4 TIER 5
Not Required 10 on-net carriers available to all customers
Not Required 6 facility entry vaults from at least two pathways
Not Required D/DoS mitigation services made available to customers

PHYSICAL SECURITY

TIER 4 TIER 5
Not Required Each server rack is securable
Not Required Access to critical asset systems and networks such as HVAC/Power/Network/Security are securable
Not Required Monitored, motion activated, video surveillance of service spaces and entrances at 15 images per second and retained for at least 90 days
Not Required Each compartmentalized cage/room on the data center floor is independently securable
Not Required The facility within the premises has photo ID badged entry access control which records access times/dates/user for 180 days
Not Required The facility exterior walls are windowless and made of concrete or a similarly non-flammable, non-penetrable walls
Not Required Exterior doors are reinforced (e.g. steel stiffened) in a steel frame which is fully grout filled and if unmanned without visible hinges
Not Required The premises has at least a minimum 7' with 18" perimeter fence with a 3 strand barbed wire topper, or similar piking, at 45 degree angle away from the premises that is not minimized by vehicle or pedestrian access
Not Required The facility has man trap access control  at all entrances
Not Required Access control authenticates each badge holder by PIN/biometric/Two Person Integrity
Not Required Security operations employs the most stringent physical security enforcement tools allowable by law
Not Required No flammable material is permitted on the data floor
Not Required Auditing standards required for the logical data housed are met
Not Required Access Control Program regulates access to operational zones
Not Required The premises can maintain shelter in place security operations for 100 hours
Not Required The security team conducts at least semi-annual security threat assessments in accordance with the facility's established quantitative and qualitative threat assessment methods.
Not Required No high-risk neighboring facilities (e.g. highly flammable, explosive, HAZMAT, or nuclear risks)

WATER PROTECTION

TIER 4 TIER 5
Not Required Independently repairable/replaceable dual roof system
Not Required Located outside a 100-year flood plain
Not Required All cooling water outside the building shell (i.e. no water permitted on or above data center floor)
Not Required Representation and warranty letter signed by officer of the company guaranteeing service levels

POWER SUSTAINABILITY AND EFFICIENCY

TIER 4 TIER 5
Not Required 100% renewably powered
Not Required Powered by local, new, renewable projects
Not Required Seasoned sector 12 month PUE trailing average of less than 1.3

Switch Offers the World’s Only Tier 5 Platinum Data Centers

Switch data center designs, facilities and operations far surpass the highest data center benchmarks. As such, Switch offers the world’s only Tier 5 Platinum data centers.

In 2014, Switch became the first and only carrier-neutral multi-tenant/colocation facility to be certified Tier IV Gold by the Uptime Institute. In 2016, Switch became the only entity to do so, twice. For each facility, Switch obtained certification in both Design and Facility categories. Switch was also awarded Gold certifications for Operational Excellence. Switch went through this exercise, each time, to further reinforce Switch’s technology leadership and add transparency to its offerings.

Switch’s CEO and Founder, Rob Roy has been designing, building and operating data centers since 2000. Rob Roy has over 350 patent and patent pending claims that capture his vision and inventions. Although not critical to its market position, Switch pursued the Uptime Institute certification in an effort to provide clarity to those less familiar with data center technology nuances. Switch also wanted to ensure no one was misled by would-be competitors misrepresenting the quality or reliability of their facilities.

Switch’s data center and telecommunication technology and services have been praised as Tier “Elite” – above and beyond any current tier metric, including those offered by the Uptime Institute. Switch continues the pursuit of building the world’s best data centers. In doing so, Switch has raised the bar beyond current industry standards with its own Tier 5 Platinum data center standard.

Tier 4 vs. Tier 5

When Switch obtained the Tier 4 Gold certification, such achievements were noteworthy. Moreover, the original intent of the Uptime Institute standards, and its foundational authors, was integral. However, now that Switch has fully participated in the Uptime Institute process, Switch views the Uptime Institute rating system as insufficient. The current standards do not evaluate todays’ increasingly dynamic data center ecosystem needs. While beneficial in some respects, the Uptime Institute Tier 4 standard overlooks critical components necessary for any data center, as well as world class elements intrinsic in Switch Technology.

The Uptime Institute Tier 4 standard does not contemplate internet connectivity or carrier services, physical security and regional risks, or the sustainability and energy efficiency of a facility. Moreover, the standard is trapped in an outdated vision of what is necessary to support the Internet of Everything. A detailed comparison between the Uptime Institute Tier 4 standard and Switch’s Tier 5 standard is available here.

 

The Value of Independence

In addition to being an outdated standard that omits elements critical to any data center ecosystem, the Uptime Institute Tier 4 standards are difficult to find. Rather, the standards are only readily available to those who hire the Uptime Institute. Whether this is due to a change in Uptime’s business plan, or the result of new ownership is unknown.

However, the consequence has been clear. The standards themselves have been misunderstood and subject to abuse. Moreover, in Switch’s opinion, the Uptime Institute standards have grown more focused on gathering clients rather than protecting data center consumers; more focused on income than the data center industry.

Accordingly, Switch announces a new standard in data center excellence: Tier 5 Platinum.

 

Continued Excellence: Data Center Standards Foundation

In addition to announcing the Tier 5 Platinum standard, Switch is partnering with some of the original authors of the Uptime Institute to create a new, independent, non-profit standards body for the data center industry. Known as the Data Center Standards Foundation, or “DCSF”, the foundation will independently protect the industry, the world, and the users. DCSF will enable data center users, owners, and operators to self-assess the rating of their data centers, clearly represent and warrant that rating, and have an independent third-party audit verify that assessment.

Major announcements about DCSF to come.

 

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