CenturyLink has achieved Uptime Institute Tier certification for several of its data centers, and now the company is turning focus toward certification for data center operations. CenturyLink will be the first provider to attempt to receive the Uptime Institute Management and Operations Stamp of Approval for its entire portfolio of data centers.
Uptime will evaluate CenturyLink’s close to sixty data centers in a stringent process expected to continue several years. The provider will undergo intensive audits that scrutinize every aspect of how it manages and operates its data centers.
Some other early receivers of the three-year-old M&O Stamp of Approval are Fortune Data Centers, Equinix, and Colt. All three were part of an eleven-member M&O Coalition that developed the assessment criteria for the Management and Operations Program and Site Assessment Service. No provider has pursued the stamp as extensively as CenturyLink is.
The data center operations designation gives third-party assurance that site management satisfies industry-recognized criteria for 24/7 uptime. It’s a big investment and commitment on the part of CenturyLink. The end result is that customers gain peace of mind into operations, not just the facility itself.
The audit takes into consideration everything from the processes for servicing equipment and investment in training to effectiveness of its communications to staff and subcontractors. “Each individual site has its own process, each site gets audited,” said Matt Stansberry, Uptime's director of content and publications.
“It’s all about operational excellence,” said Drew Leonard, vice president of colocation services at CenturyLink.”We’ve stood on that for a very long time as an operator. We’ve established a history of uptime that is born out of the way we operate, train – on the methods and practices and procedures.”
People are Greatest Threat to Uptime
The M&O stamp across the entire footprint will speak to enterprises increasingly looking to multi-tenant colocation facilities as part of their data center strategy.
"Our customers are in multiple facilities,” said Leonard. “Part of what we want to achieve as a provider is standard operations for quality facilities. Last year we’ve made a commitment to Tier III for Design of Facilities. That step solidified and validated what we were doing. This is the next step. The biggest risk the data center has is the people who operate it. Even the most trained individual can make a mistake at any time.”
Uptime said the leading cause of data center failures is operations related.
“Folks used to say people caused 70 percent of outages, but it’s really more like 100 percent," said Stansberry. "Most of the outages aren’t from equipment failure; it’s about core planning.”
New Certification Gaining Traction With Providers
The Management and Operations certification is fairly new for Uptime, first introduced in 2011 through a coalition of multi-tenant and enterprise data center operators that worked to develop a protocol. The Institute has long certified physical facilities, and the new certification expanded its focus to operations.
Uptime has traditionally done well with enterprise data centers in terms of facilities certification but has increasingly certified multi-tenant provider facilities. Providers recognize value in certification as it gives customers peace of mind when it comes to the facility. The CenturyLink deal will help its M&O Stamp of Approval gain additional traction in the multi-tenant space for data center operations assessment.
The M&O Stamp of Approval is an outcome-based guideline that looks at operations, developed based on analyzing the root cause of 20 years of outages in high performance data centers. Uptime has a rich knowledge base and maintains a history of member outages to help others learn from past mistakes.