Data centers are crucial parts of any robust IT framework — and that means they need to be able to reliably keep up with changing regulations and demands across security, sustainability and other mission-critical metrics.
The best way to measure these metrics is with standardized certifications. This allows potential data center customers to know exactly how individual facilities hold up best practices and to easily compare data centers and their operators with competitors. These certifications serve as benchmarks — but they do evolve as industry standards change.
Here’s a look at some key certifications and why you should be aware of them during your data center procurement.
One of the ways compliance is measured in the data center industry is by Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) auditing standards. Set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts (AICPA), SSAE certification covers a few different metrics: SOC 1, SOC 2 and SOC 3.
SOC 1 compliance pertains to the financial reporting controls within a data center — whether or not they can achieve the objectives they set out to, and whether the way in which the system is presented by the data center’s management is fair and accurate. SOC 2 tests data center controls to see if they meet a set of rules called the Trust Service Principles (TSP). Security, availability, confidentiality, privacy and processing integrity are the five TSPs, and SOC 2’s duty is to evaluate the data center holistically to see if it can operate effectively when considering these core tenets. SOC 3, a more general set of specifications, checks to see whether the facility meets larger industry standards.
This multi-tiered certification system is a great way to see if the data center can protect and preserve the information that runs through it and gets stored within it. Compliance with this set of standards helps show that the operators can avert internal and external risks to keep the data center environment airtight and fully protected.
Shorthand for the PCI Data Security Standard, this is a security standard that is recognized worldwide. Created by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, this certification shows that a data center can minimize weak points in its infrastructure and limit its susceptibility to fraud or other activities that can compromise private data.
Running a data center necessitates certain safety responsibilities, but in the case of PCI, the security requirements are not all in the data center’s hands. In fact, the tenants of a PCI-compliant data center aren’t automatically compliant with this standard themselves — they must prove that their individual processes also align with the PCI certification requirements. Still, this is an important set of requirements to meet, as they cover physical security needs, network security necessities and more.
Overall, PCI is full of many foundational security mandates that make it a crucial source of compliance for any data center — and any colocation customer.
Sustainability has become a core metric of the data center’s performance, and its in-demand status is only growing by the day. Measuring a data center’s sustainability is a complicated process, but there are ways a potential tenant can find out if their data center complies with green methods of operation.
Created by The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO certification is based on criteria for environmental management systems, helping data centers achieve effective levels of green-ness — as well as proper service quality, management and IT security. In fact, these standards can help improve the workplace, lower environmental impact, enhance cybersecurity and more.
Proper documentation and implementation of this highly regulated system is crucial for this certification, as it shows that a data center follows internationally standardized practices. This isn’t a legal requirement, but compliance with this set of standards ensures customers and providers across different industries can achieve the security and innovation they’re looking for.
Compliance in an Evolving IT World
There are multitudes of certifications in the world of data centers, all of which have their own set of specifications and hold data centers to an assortment of crucial standards on behalf of tenants. As the landscape of IT security, management and sustainability changes over the years, new certifications will be developed to meet tightening regulations, which means finding a truly compliant data center is an ongoing task — not a set-and-forget check off the list. When equipped with the proper insight, however, the best and most robust data center for the job can always be found.