It is imperative that we underpin our global digital infrastructure with common internationally agreed standards and metrics. These are the tools needed to create consistent benchmarks which support better understanding and continued improvement of the delivery of digital services in terms of both reliability/availability and energy efficiency.
Ultimately the use of these tools may be by wide voluntary adoption or potentially by reference to legislation and regulation, if as a sector we are not being seen to put ‘our house in order’.
Currently the Data Centre standards landscape is very confused and difficult to navigate through. There are documents and frameworks in existence which are routinely referenced but are not true standards in that they are not recognised by either national or international standards bodies. There are also data centre standards that are recognised nationally but not internationally and for some countries there are even competing national standards affectively addressing the same areas.
A number of national standards have been published which address design concepts for data centre infrastructures. For example, ANSI/TIA-942-B and ANSI/BICSI 002 are standards recognised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), however both of these documents are only recognised as national standards within the USA and are not true international Standards.
Neither of these documents can be considered to define requirements that can be wholly employed (or “conformed to”) because of their specific requirements and linkages to other US Standards which may be incompatible with European or wider International practices.
This lack of cohesion has resulted in a significant degree of competition for the very lucrative market for providing data centre ‘certification’. The article will address the issue of certification in subsequent sections, however it is worth pointing out at this stage that ‘certification’ is a far more complex issue than it might at first appear and is frequently misunderstood.
This ongoing confusion has resulted in a lack of consistency in the application of benchmarks and a lack of common understanding across the entire data centre sector.
Some significant steps have already been made to both truly standardise and globalise the data centre standards landscape and there are efforts underway to take this further by National and International Standards Organisations such as ISO (ISO is based in Geneva, Switzerland and is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards.
Members are the appointed national standards bodies of the 163 member countries around the world), and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). Unfortunately, these efforts are not well understood or recognised by many involved in the data centre sector and worse are even being wilfully contradicted by some seeking to sell their own proprietary ‘standards’. These significant achievements and the ongoing efforts that have been made in the area of data centre specific Standards are discussed in detail below.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI) – The ISO/IEC 30134 Series
What is perhaps surprising is that many in the data centre sector are not aware of the globally standardised Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which have already been defined and published by the International Standards Organisation (ISO). ]
While many have heard of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), and possibly even reference it on a daily basis, it seems that relatively few people realise that it is defined by ISO/IEC 30134-2:2018, and that reference to anything other than this standardised KPI is not genuine PUE.
(Note: PUE was originally defined by The Green Grid but this organisation passed the ownership, development, standardisation and dissemination of this metric to ISO/IEC JTC1 SC39 WG1 several years ago).
ISO works alongside International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), in the development of emerging international data centre standards and ISO/IEC JCT1 SC39 WG1 is the body responsible for the development of the ISO/IEC 30134 series of standardised data centre resource efficiency KPIs (Including PUE).
it is important to differentiate between standards that support data centre design and those that may be used to improve their operation. The ISO/IEC 30134 series of standards are aimed at improvements in operation rather than design.
The full list of standards in this series are listed below:
International Standard ISO/IEC 30134 Information technology — Data centres — Key performance indicators
ISO/IEC 30134-1:2018 — Part 1: Overview and general requirements
ISO/IEC 30134-2:2018 — Part 2: Power usage effectiveness (PUE)
ISO/IEC 30134-3:2018 — Part 3: Renewable energy factor (REF)
ISO/IEC 30134-4:2017 — Part 4: IT Equipment Energy Efficiency for servers (ITEEsv)
ISO/IEC 30134-5:2017 — Part 5: IT Equipment Utilization for servers (ITEUsv)
ISO/IEC 30134-6 — Part 6: Energy Reuse Factor (ERF)
ISO/IEC 30134-7 — Part 7: Cooling Efficiency Ratio (CER)
ISO/IEC 30134-8 — Part 8: Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE)
ISO/IEC 30134-9 — Part 9: Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE)