All Data Centers Are Not Created Equal

While visiting our Los Angeles Data Center, T5@LA, yesterday I had the opportunity to check in on the construction progress for a customer’s custom suite. One of the first things I noticed were three massive Munters indirect evaporative cooling units out back waiting to be lifted to the roof above their space. Let me tell you – they’re hard to miss! While discussing this customer’s specific design, all I could think about was the multitude of conversations I’ve had recently about how our business is becoming commoditized. Some say that all data centers are the same, that no one cares about design, and the only difference is price. I’ll give you three reasons why all data centers are truly not created equal:

Munters evaporative cooling units at T5@LA.
New Munters evaporative cooling units at T5@LA.
  1. Customization –
    Every one of our customers has customized their design – a unique cooling solution, maybe a rework of the electrical system for additional redundancy, even enhanced security (Kevlar walls and an additional man trap in the suite, anyone?). No one comes into a T5 building and says “Great, I’ll take it exactly as is.” So if every customer has unique requirements, how can the solution be commoditized?
  2. Operations –
    I can make the same argument for operations. An east coast customer recently sat down with us to re-write our playbook, making numerous changes to security policies, maintenance procedures and modifying the way we, as the building operator, and they as the customer, communicate and collaborate during the 10+ years of their lease. Certainly not a one size fits all solution.
  3. Service Level Agreements –
    The 100% uptime SLA bait and switch. By definition, a Tier IV datacenter guarantees 99.995% uptime. Tier III is 99.982%. So a relatively new Tier III data center, by definition, will have 1.6 hours of downtime per year. Therefore some data centers, by offering a blanket 100% uptime guarantee, are trying to whitewash the discussion of design, construction and operational excellence, instead replacing it with a blanket “Trust Us” statement in the form of a SLA that they know, by definition, they can not live up to. If all data centers were equal, why would some hide behind unrealistic SLAs?

These examples just skim the surface of this argument. It’s true that for some users, a generic “good enough” solution will work but in our experience, the vast majority of top tier corporations drive unique design modifications and operational flexibility in order to find the best fit for their business needs and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

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