Welcome to Part One of Cabling Installation & Maintenance's recent interview with Harry Smeenk, SVP Technology Programs at the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).
In Part One of the interview, CablingInstall.com senior editor Matt Vincent inquires about the TIA's new data center accreditation program, which will put facilities through technical audits to confirm and certify their conformance with the ANSI/TIA-942 standard.
CablingInstall: We recently published on our website an article about the TIA establishing its new certification program for 942 standard-conformant data centers. First, we’d just like to get your comments on the program, and the roadmap for it.
Henry Smeenk, TIA: We’re really excited about the program at TIA. Over the past couple of years since I’ve been here at TIA, we’ve had a number of requests from data center owners, data center operators, data center users wanting to know if their data center was certifiable to the TIA-942 standard.
The TIA-942 standard for data centers is the world’s most popular data center standard. It’s used by well over 70% of the population [of facilities] around the world. Data center stakeholders have been very concerned about ensuring that their data center was designed, built, and approved as having met that criteria.
To date, we have not had an official TIA program for certification. So, at the request of the operators and the owners, we put together a scheme that starts with ISO 17020 as the basis for being able to do certification. [Ed. Note. -- ISO 17020, entitled "General Criteria for the Operation of Various Types of Bodies Performing Inspection", is an internationally recognized standard for the competence of inspection bodies.]
Henry Smeenk, TIA: And then we’ve added a number of specific requirements from TIA to validate that the businesses [performing the conformity assessment audit] are in fact up and running, that they have the right training, that they have the right background to do the audits.
TIA is not in the business of doing certifications or doing audits – we’re an independent, non-profit, technology/vendor-agnostic industry association – so [with the program’s] Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), we’re looking for companies around the world to come forward and say yes, we’re interested in becoming approved to do a certification to the TIA-942 standard. And [for them] be able to put that check mark on things, so that data center owners and operators know that yes, this [facility] meets the requirements.
CablingInstall: It sounds like the endgame is to get a list of data centers that have been certified for conformance?
Henry Smeenk, TIA: What we were hearing back consistently from the owners, and the operators and the end users, was that there was not consistency or conformity across the audits of data centers around the world. One auditing group may go in and rate that data center as a Rating 3, and then another auditing group a year later, or two years later comes in and rates it as a ‘2’.
Obviously there’s a difference there – there’s not consistency. So the reason for putting together the TIA program was to ensure that -- since we are the developers and maintainers of the TIA-942 standard, we always have the latest and greatest information -- so to ensure that hits the marketplace, and that all companies that are doing this audit and certification are meeting the guidelines, so that it is consistent.
There was a lot of subjectivity, and we’re trying to take that subjectivity out of the audit by making it very quantitative.