Data Center

Data Center Standards: Why the Industry Needs You

Henry Franc
What is a data center? It’s a very ubiquitous term, but has widely varying representations. Depending on your point of view, a data center can be a massive, purpose-built facility for large companies like Google. Or it can be a small room with a couple of racks of computer gear and servers. Or anything in between. 

I typically classify data centers into three categories, each with its own sub-categories. (There are more complex models that can be a hybrid of these three categories.)

  1. Enterprise data centers vary in size, but are generally built to support the core and complementary requirements of the business
  2. Multi-tenant data centers serve multiple clients from a single provider
  3. Purpose-built data centers are for a specific type of data processing, storage or access

With this broad range of possibilities, how can the industry develop data center standards that provide useful guidance to all types of data centers?

An Example: ANSI/TIA-942-B Data Center Standard

Collaboration is becoming increasingly important within our industry, especially as it pertains to involvement in data center standards development.

Let’s examine the ANSI/TIA-942-B standard that is currently in development by the TIA TR42.1 engineering sub-committee as an example. (ANSI/TIA-942-B is the revision of the TIA-942-A data center standard.)

The comments summary of the first draft of the ANSI/TIA-942-B standard is 133 pages long; the standard itself is only 127 pages long.

The first draft has been balloted, resulting in more than 750 comments, and was reviewed at the June 2016 sub-committee meeting. To put this in perspective, the comments summary is 133 pages long; the standard itself is only 127 pages long. This is a perfect example of why we should celebrate and recognize the value of collaboration in this process. Although a daunting task for the editor and sub-committee, we can expect a better outcome because there is collaboration – the burden doesn’t fall to one person.

By reaching a healthy, industry-wide consensus, the guidance within the data center standard can be applied to any conceivable data center configuration. On this last draft, we had more than 30 organizations providing comments, and more than 50 organizations participating in sub-committee meetings. When you consider that most members represent the interests of their clients, colleagues and partners, the actual number of parties being represented is much larger.

In this data center standards draft, we reviewed a number of suggested changes (additions, deletions and modifications). New media are being accommodated, including wideband multimode fiber and Category 8, even though some of the final requirements for these media are not yet finalized.

From a telecommunications standpoint, there are also comments related to topology, layout, pathways and resiliency/redundancy ratings. Of course, we are also collaborating with other organizations, such as ASHRAE, to address mechanical, electrical and architectural requirements.

Whether you’re using the existing ANSI/TIA-942-A document, or you choose to wait until the ANSI/TIA-942-B version is complete, a successful data center will require cooperation between all stakeholders. 

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How to Get Involved

The only constant is change when it comes to data centers. Providers, consultants and end-users have to cooperate and align their goals, making the best use of the guidelines within data center standards while respecting the needs of the project.

By collaborating not just at the project level, but also on the development of data center standards, we are making this industry better. We are serving our market more effectively. Change and evolution are more easily accommodated. Options can be weighed and measured. Through collaborative efforts, we can succeed in our endeavors.

By collaborating on the development of data center standards, we are making this industry better.

On that note, it’s important that you know: We need you. We need your input, your suggestions and your criticism.

Consider contacting a standards development organization like TIA (the Telecommunications Industry Association) or BICSI (Building Industry Consulting Service International). Become a member and share your voice. Or, if that seems too daunting, approach participating partners or colleagues. If you don’t know anyone who participates, then just email an organization and they’ll make sure you get to the right place. We will welcome your input because we know you care.

Belden chooses to be involved with standards development so we’re at the forefront of technology instead of trying to catch up. Learn more about the experience and expertise we can bring to your data center to reduce costs, improve uptime, make the best use of space and ensure security.

Are you involved in any standards development organizations?
Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!