June 3, 2013
I coach my son’s baseball team, and since the kids are only nine, what happens on the field often varies distinctly from what we work on in practice. Bases don’t get backed up, I’m not sure why we bother working on “hitting the cut-off man”, and my outfield more often resembles a weekly discussion group than our formidable last line of defense, but every once in awhile something happens exactly the way we practice it—centerfielder to catcher put-out at home, for example—that makes it all worthwhile. Doesn’t everyone love it when things come together? That’s why I was particularly gratified recently when I saw that some of our competitors are joining us in backing up their certification claims by, well, certifying them.
Doesn’t this really reflect the importance of actually embracing standards in the first place? Certainly, these recent decisions weren’t driven by any competitive pressure brought on by us, since these recent converts to the certification (and not the bait and switch “design” certification, but the real deal constructed facility certification) bandwagon are to put it mildly, large, while we aren’t—yet. When customers refuse to accept the specious claims of compatibility or compliance with recognized requirements for design and construction from the largest providers in the industry, aren’t they really saying that “because we said so” just isn’t good enough anymore?
I think that these actions are positive steps in the maturation of the industry for a number of reasons. First, at a time when it seems like everyone and their brother with access to an abandoned Safeway is getting into the data center business, this provides prospective customers with an effective way to separate the serious players from those seeking only to reap the benefits of short-term ownership—a business model that usually translates into long term problems for their customers. Secondly, it provides an important and quick to verify point of comparison for those seeking a safe harbor for their data center investment dollars. Determining if a facility really does meet Tier III requirements becomes binary in nature. Certified yes, not certified, no. And finally, it raises the standard of competitiveness for the industry in general. When key elements of an industry become applied equally amongst all competitors then we are forced to differentiate ourselves through new innovative outputs and that benefits our customers in the availability of new services and capabilities.
I think any serious follower of the data center industry will join me in welcoming these recent announcements regarding the “certify the claim” standards movement. I suspect that we will see more “converts” to this cause over the course of the coming months. For our customers and the industry in general, I think we can all agree that this is a good thing. As for my baseball team, life is nothing if not a series of pleasant surprises.