Standards Relevant to Data Centre Design – Compliance & Performance Are Key

When it comes to designing and building a data center, there comes a point when you need to consider the tension between compliance to codes and performance. A quick look at best practices should indicate what you need to know to optimize performance, but will industry standards impede performance? Actually, those standards are in place to ensure optimal performance as well as safety and security.

The one thing to be aware of is that the standards established for Canada are also in compliance with United States codes, so some are ‘written’ by US organisations and others established by Canadian institutes. As a result, the entire data center infrastructure of North America runs along common protocols. Various standards are utilized when designing and implementing the construction of a data center.

Four Groups Developing Data Centre Infrastructure Standard

In terms of data centre construction, there are actually four groups which are developing what is to be called the ANSI/CSA/EIA/TIA – 942, which will be the standards for the infrastructure for Data Telecommunications and Data Centres. These groups are:

  • American National Standards Institute – ANSI
  • Electronics Industries Alliance – EIA
  • Canadian Standards Association – CSA
  • Telecommunications Industry Association – TIA

Together they are establishing best practices in infrastructure in terms of performance and security. When designing and constructing a data centre, everything must be in compliance with the regulations set forth by these bodies. Vendors belonging to TIA can ensure that facilities they design and install are certified to be in compliance.

International Standards – Availability Class Rating

There are those vendors that also follow international standards in the EN 50600 series for data centres. These standards are listed as follows:

  • General Concepts – EN 50600-1
  • Building Construction – EN 50600-2.1
  • Power Distribution – EN 50600-2.2
  • Environmental Control – EN 50600-2.3
  • Telecommunications Cabling Structure – EN 50600-2.4
  • Security Systems – EN 50600-2.5
  • Management and Operational Information Systems – EN 50600-2.6

The EN 50600 Standards, then, break down into each of those categories and each has strict guidelines to follow. They are fairly self-explanatory by name, so you can see how a vendor would need to meet each of those standards. This is a globally accepted standard and facilities are then based on levels (formerly called tiers) in Availability Classes.

Operational Standards

As well as the standards which must be met in design and construction of a data center, there are also operational standards worldwide which must be complied with. These would include certification from Up-time that has the tiers spoken of above. Also, ISO regulates Industry Operational Standards in Quality System, Environmental Management System and Information Security. The last one, ISO 27001 is critical in today’s world because there needs to be a growing awareness of data security. There are strict regulations regarding security, so if you are in the midst of having a data centre designed, this is one standard you should become aware of to ensure that the vendor you choose is in strict compliance.

Just When You Thought You Understood Data Center Standards

As if all of the above wasn’t enough to wrap your head around when contracting the design and construction of a data center, there are other standards which must be met as well. Some of these include Payment Card Industry Security Standard, Assurance Controls, Amsterdam Internet Exchange and Management & Operational Information Standards. Before contracting a vendor for your data center, make absolutely certain they meet the minimum requirements in certification within these best practice standards because your entire data center could be at risk for either performance issues or security issues. It is imperative that you trust the vendor you are dealing with.

There is more than you could ever imagine when designing a data centre, whether it is for enterprise, internet facilities or collocation. From planning space to ensuring that materials and operations are in compliance with environmental concerns to physical security of the data center, electrical, plumbing and fire protection, there is much to plan for and that’s why only a well-respected firm should be contracted. Also, be absolutely certain that company you contract has provisions for ongoing maintenance as required and that they are honorable about keeping to their contractual commitments. No one expects you to remember, let alone understand all these North American and International Standards, but an awareness will indicate that it is critical to choose the right vendor when having a data center constructed.