Wp data center standards (final)

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Understand the data center standards and how you can apply them to your organization

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Wp data center standards (final)

  1. 1. plantemoran.com {Data center.} Design standards
  2. 2. IT systems have become critical for the day-to-day operations of today’s organizations.
  3. 3. {Data center.} Design standards IT systems are critical for the day-to-day operations of today’s organizations. Typically, IT systems within an organization are housed at a centralized location often referred to as the “server room” or the “data center.” With many organizations experiencing continued server sprawl or a significant increase in virtual machines, there are increased pressures on the data center in terms of cooling, electrical, airflow, and capacity. Whether you’re building a new data center, evaluating your existing internal data center, or evaluating a hosted (commonly referred to as “colo”) data center, being proactive in assessing the environment and capacity of the data center can have a significant impact on the uptime, thus impacting efficiency and effectiveness of an organization’s IT operations and thus, the overall business. The availability and reliability of critical IT systems can be largely dependent upon the data center’s design and its operational and maintenance practices. Typically, the availability of a data center is measured as a percentage of uptime. Generally, uptime of 90 percent or higher is viewed as being highly available; in the case of IT system or data center uptime, however, anything short of 99 percent availability due to unplanned interruptions is considered unacceptable (see Table 1). These inadequacies prevented organizations from responding to outages in a timely manner. According to this study, the per-incident cost of a data center outage can range between $38,969 and $1,017,746 per organization depending upon the industry and size. (Industries surveyed ranged from public sector to financial industries, and the costs included detection, recovery, equipment, IT and end-user productivity, third parties, lost revenue, and business disruption.) In a separate survey conducted by the Aperture Research Institute, the primary causes for data center outages were: human error (57.3 percent), improper controls/configurations (43.7 percent), cooling issues (22.3 percent), and electrical issues (26.2 percent). When coupled with best-in-class operational and maintenance practices, proper data center planning and design can help minimize downtime at the data center. Standardization in the data center According to Wikipedia, a data center is defined as “a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes redundant Uptime % Est. Downtime/month Est. Downtime/year 99.999% (5-9’s) 0.44 minutes 5.26 minutes 99.99% (4-9’s) 4.38 minutes 52.56 minutes 99.5% 39 minutes 1 day 19 hours 48 minutes 99.0% 7 hours 12 minutes 3 days 15 hours 36 minutes 95.0% 1 day 12 hours 0 minutes 18 days 6 hours 0 minutes According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, approximately 95 percent of the surveyed organizations experienced an unplanned data center outage that was either attributed to inadequate capacity planning, design, or operational practices. Table 1 or backup power supplies, redundant data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression), and security devices.” If you looked up any definition of a data center, it would typically contain terms such as redundancy, 1
  4. 4. capacity, power, cooling, monitoring, controls, and security. So what makes one data center different from another? It is the levels of redundancy, fault tolerance, and scalability provided for cooling, electrical, connectivity, the capacity for space, operational procedures in place, and other factors. In the absence of standards, it would be hard to compare one data center to another. This article focuses on the TIA-942 standard that can be used when planning or comparing data centers. This standard can be used as the benchmark and may be applied to a new environment, retrofitting or assessing an existing data center, or when evaluating co-location facilities. Standards provide a methodology for comparing the capabilities of one data center to another and avoiding the dangers of ambiguities or unsubstantiated qualitative references. The Uptime Institute (TUI) provided a first attempt for standardization by using a tiering system — a system that specifies the availability, reliability, and capacity of a data center. As the need for data center standardization gained more traction, variations of these standards have arisen. Currently, there are three commonly known tier systems: (1) Uptime Institute TUI, (2) Syska Hennessy Group, and (3) the TIA-942. A fourth standard by ANSI/BICSI is also gaining some traction in this area. The TIA-942 is a data center standard developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA); the TIA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop voluntary standards for the telecommunications industry. Also referred to as the ANSI/TIA-942, the TIA-942 standard’s purpose is to provide design standards for a data center. This standard takes multidisciplinary design approaches and addresses 20 different areas, thereby promoting cooperation between all parties involved in the design and construction of the data center. This standard may be used to benchmark an existing internal facility or a hosted facility. The TIA-942 and TUI are the more commonly referenced standards; both provide a tier classification system to help assess a site’s infrastructure. TUI and Syska Hennessy Group provide a framework for the disciplines in a data center but lack details, whereas the TIA-942 provides some depth into various aspects that go into a data center. Given TIA-942 standard’s roots, this standard has a strong emphasis on cabling specifications; however, it also details requirements for architectural, electrical, mechanical, security, and other site infrastructure requirements. These 20 areas of the site infrastructure can be broadly classified into the following seven core areas, as shown below in Table 2. What is the TIA-942? Security & Protection Access Provider & Demarcation 1. Design process 9. Fire protection 16. Access providers 2. Space planning 10. Physical security 17. Telecom space 3. Site selection 11. Building automation 18. Telecom administration Architectural & Structural Cabling Infrastructure Operations 4. Architectural 2. Cabinets & racks 1 5. Structural 13. Cabling pathways 19. Information technology (DRP, Ops Center) 6. Commissioning Table 2 S izing & Selection 14. Cabling systems Electrical & Mechanical 7. Electrical & grounding 8. HVAC/Mechanical systems 2 5. Cabling field testing 1 20. Maintenance
  5. 5. Based on the criticality or dependence upon the data center, redundancy and fault tolerance need to be built into the site’s infrastructure. The level of redundancy and fault tolerance designed into each of these 20 areas of the data center’s infrastructure determines its tier. The TIA-942 categorizes data centers into one of four tiers (Tiers 1 – 4), where higher tiers correspond to higher availability. Each individual area (mechanical, electrical, cabling pathways, etc.) can be assessed independently and categorized into a tier. For example, a data center may be rated Tier 4 for its electrical characteristics but only Tier 3 for its mechanical characteristics. Just like the weakest link in a chain, a data center’s overall tier rating is the lowest rating across all aspects of its infrastructure. Annex G of the TIA-942 standard provides the tiering requirements for each of these core areas. What is the difference between the TIA-942 and The Uptime Institute standard? The TIA-942 was developed by ANSI, an industry association, whereas The Uptime Institute (TUI) is a commercial for-profit entity. The TIA-942 tiering scheme uses the TUI’s idea of a four-tiered system but provides a prescriptive definition for each tier. The TIA-942 classifies the tiers using quantifiable methods while TUI uses a functional approach. TUI’s definition of the tiering guideline is intentionally broad to allow for innovation in achieving the desired level of a site’s infrastructure performance. TUI tiers evaluate data centers by their capability to allow maintenance and to withstand a system or sub-system failure. Only the TIA-942 offers a checklist form that can be used to assess the tier of a data center. The TIA-942 tiers are identified by the use of Arabic numbers 1 through 4 (e.g., Tier 3), whereas the Uptime Institute Tiers are identified by the use of Roman numerals I through IV (e.g., Tier III). Both standards identify recommendations for data center design components, but the TIA-942 also covers some operational and sustainability issues. The UTI provides a second document (Tier Standard: Operational Sustainability) to cover operational and sustainability issues. When it comes to the certification of a data center, only the TUI offers a certification program. As of this writing, TUI has awarded 149 certifications worldwide, of which approximately 30 data centers are certified as Tier IV centers based on their design documents, constructed facility, or operational sustainability. So, when data center vendors advertise that they’re a Tier IV or Tier III certified data center, be aware how rare that is. On the TIA-942 side, there’s no central authority that certifies data centers based on the use of the TIA-942 standard. Claims that a data center is TIA-942 Tier 4 or Tier 3 (notice the use of Arabic numbers) certified may be based on self-assessment or a third-party audit of the TIA-942 checklist. Both standards provide plenty of value, although each has a slightly different philosophy. When selecting a data center, it’s advisable to consider both standards and then select the one that best meets your business objectives. 3
  6. 6. What is a data center tier classification? Conclusion Both the TIA-942 and The Uptime Institute created the tier classification to consistently describe the site-level infrastructure required to sustain data center operations. Each individual tier represents the requirements for the data center design; the higher the tier, the greater the sophistication of the design and operating requirements, leading to increased data center availability. The intent of this article is to give you a brief overview of the TIA-942 data center standard. With this understanding, you will have a basis to conduct further research or to understand some of the claims made by data center vendors. So, where do you go from here? Assessing the criticality of the data center to your organization will help identify the desired tier level of your data center. If you have a low level of criticality, does it make sense to invest in a Tier 3 or Tier 4 data center? Probably not. Identifying the optimal criticality for the organization identifies the required balance between a data center’s cost of ownership and the cost of downtime for the organization. Table 3 on the next page provides the business characteristics that define criticality and the overall effect on system design. Whatever the reason for your data center project (new build, retrofit, or selection of a co-location data center), it’s in your best interest to become familiar with the terminology used in the data center industry to understand any ambiguities that may come your way. Any project involving the data center carries risk and expense and therefore should not be taken lightly. • First, you need to perform a risk assessment to determine hourly cost of downtime, which would help you to identify the criticality of the data center for your business. • Understand TIA-942 (requirement and process). • Assess the tier level of your current system and sub-systems. • Work with facilities to improve the overall health of the data center. • Work with finance to justify upgrades. Alternatively, if it fits the business model, an outsourced data center should be considered. Affordable co-location or hosted data centers and high uptime (99.995 percent) are not mutually exclusive. Navigating these requirements can be daunting. You may want to consider seeking assistance from an outside professional before you act. Judy Wright 248.223.3304 judy.wright@plantemoran.com Sri Chalasani 248.223.3707 sri.chalasani@plantemoran.com How can we help? Whether you need help optimizing an existing IT infrastructure, implementing a new data center, or assessing a co-location facility to meet demands, Plante Moran can help. Professionals in the IT Infrastructure group can assist you with: • Conducting a risk assessment and/or gap analysis of a current data center. • Providing data center design and capacity planning (infrastructure, electrical, HVAC, layout, etc.). • Working with architects in new/retrofit data center builds to ensure requirements are addressed. • Data center migration management. • Vendor management. • 4 Documenting an existing environment. • SSAE16 (SAS70) readiness preparation and audit management.
  7. 7. Criticality Business characteristics Recommended Data Center Tier 1 (Lowest) • Typically small business. TIER 1 - Basic Infrastructure • A small percentage of business revenue • Non-redundant capacity components and distribution paths. Numerous single points of failure in all aspects of design. depends upon availability of IT systems. IT is an enhancement to internal business processes. • Business can function without IT system or there is low dependence upon IT. • View system downtime as a tolerable inconvenience. • Principal use of web presence is for passive marketing. • Any capacity component or distribution path failure will impact the computer systems. • Planned work will require most or all of the systems to be shutdown. • Extremely vulnerable to inclement weather conditions. • Generally unable to sustain more than a 10-minute power outage. • There are no enforceable financial or non-financial penalties due to loss of systems. 2 • Typically small to medium-sized business, mostly limited to traditional 9-5 business hours. • A small percentage of business revenue depends upon availability of IT systems. • Business relies upon availability of IT systems; has multiple and often inter-related systems within IT. • Some tolerance for downtime but extended downtime becomes a business deterrent. • Business does not provide real-time delivery obligations or call centers with multiple sites. TIER 2 - Redundant Components Infrastructure • Redundant capacity components, but single non-redundant distribution paths serving the site’s computer equipment (i.e., a distribution path failure will cause the computer equipment to shut down). • Some redundancy in power and cooling systems. • Redundant UPS modules and engine generators. Ability to sustain a 24-hour power outage. • Minimal thought in site selection. • Formal data room separate from other areas. • There are limited financial or non-financial penalties due to loss of systems. • Business serves both internal and external customers 24/7. • Business spans multiple time zones and corresponding geographic diversity of employees and customers. • IT resources support automation of business processes. • The customer impact due to short outages is manageable. • Business provides real-time delivery obligations TIER 3 - Concurrently Maintainable Infrastructure Table 3 3 • Redundant capacity components and multiple distribution paths serving the site’s computer equipment. Generally, only one distribution path serves the computer equipment at any time. • Each and every capacity component and element of the distribution paths can be removed from service on a planned basis without causing any of the computer equipment to be shut down. • Ability to sustain a 72-hour power outage. or call centers with multiple sites. • Careful site selection planning process. • Business has significant financial exposure due to customer quality-of-service issues. • Structure provides one-hour fire rating (how long it takes flames to penetrate the structure). • There are financial or non-financial penalties due to loss of systems. 4 (Highest) • Business operates in international markets, with a “24 by forever” services commitment. • Business processes and systems operation are continuous. • Majority of revenue comes from electronic transactions. • Business needs to react to market transactions, financial settlement, and e-commerce. TIER 4 - Fault Tolerant Infrastructure • Redundant capacity systems and multiple distribution paths simultaneously serving the site’s computer equipment, including utility power paths. • There is 2N redundancy in power and cooling systems. • Site is not susceptible to disruption of service from a single unplanned worst-case event. IT systems provides a competitive advantage. • Infrastructure maintenance may be performed by using redundant capacity components and distribution paths to safely work on the remaining equipment. • Extremely high cost of downtime. • Ability to sustain a 96-hour power outage. • Customer or employee access to applications/ • Stringent site selection criteria. • Structure has a minimum two-hour fire rating. • High level of physical security systems implemented. • Availability of qualified staff to provide 24/7 onsite maintenance. 5
  8. 8. plantemoran.com

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