It’s time for Halloween and boy am I excited. This year I’m going to be a drunk German (Mrs. Crosby is going to be Heidi). I’ve even got a goofy hat with a feather, knee high socks and lederhosen. You know, those little leather shorts. They chafe like the dickens but who among us would sacrifice a little comfort for true authenticity? I’ve always been a big fan of All Hallows Eve and not just because of the candy, although I can’t get enough of those mini Heath bars, and I still wonder what would compel someone to eat a Pixie stick. No, for me it’s all about the costumes; the chance to be someone else if even just for a night. And I like originality in my costumes. Not those store bought things with those masks that have that little piece of elastic that breaks before you even leave the house, but those homemade concoctions that show some real thought and imagination. One year a friend of mine put on a diaper and wrapped himself in a clear plastic tube and went as a “test tube baby”. Now that’s what I’m talking about. So this year as I watched my neighbor, Neil (aka Clark W. Griswold), putting the finishing touches on his yard display (he added a new zombie this year), I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between a good costume and data centers that advertise themselves as Tier III.
The Uptime Institute developed their Tier standards quite some time ago and they really haven’t changed over the years, but many of today’s providers have added their own embellishments. I think its kind of funny when standards begin to be marketed like laundry detergent—New and Improved! Whiter Whites! I guess that must be the rationale for data centers that claim to be Tier III+—“You know, just like Tier III, only better”. I’ve spent a little time looking and I just can’t find a standard definition for the “+”. Is it an extra generator, or two? Another switchboard? Doesn’t this kind of cheapen the value of what a standard is? Deciding to self proclaim something doesn’t make it so, especially when your customer is making their multi-million data center decision on this information. This proliferation of “standards creep” wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that many of these same Tier III+ cloaked providers haven’t even bothered to have Uptime certify their facilities in the first place. This is analogous to me reading a couple books on brain surgery and then hanging out my shingle as neurosurgeon. Just saying something doesn’t make it so. If you’re going to say you have a Tier III facility then pony up and get certified. Otherwise, you just weaken the value of the standard so that it means nothing to users whose businesses deserve a little more authenticity than “take my word for it”.
It’s fun to masquerade. I look forward to Halloween. I’m already thinking about next year’s costume, but there is a time and place for everything. Pretending to be something you’re not is fine every October 31, but if your doing this with your data center, aren’t you really giving your customers the trick and not the treat.