Are ISO certifications sufficient to protect your data center from downtime??


There are a lot of discussions, articles and questions regularly raised about Data Center Operations, SOPs, MOPs. This is an indication that there are still a lot of challenges in Data Center Operations for all types of data centers whether commercial or enterprise.

At the same time, we often see news and articles about data center downtime and disruptions. Despite the different conditions, locations, severity; there is one single consistent point mentioned in every report - the key cause of downtime is human error. Some reports indicate the downtime caused by human error to be as high as 70%.

So how is this possible when more and more data centers are, or are getting, certified for different ISO, SOC2, HIPAA, and other standards?

We have spoken to data center managers all over the world and all too often, we hear the same line, “My data center has no issues as we have all the processes and procedures in place, i.e. the usual MOPs, SOPs etc.” If that was really the case, then why are so many data centers still experiencing downtime with the majority of them being caused by human error?

Having reviewed hundreds of different types of data centers all over the world, we have seen one commonality repeatedly across borders and culture - there is no baseline on how to measure the real state of the data center operations efficiency, effectiveness and maturity.

Some data centers (claim) they are in good shape because they have “all” or “many” ISO certifications (ISO 9000, ISO 14001, ISO 20000, ISO 22301, ISO 27001, ISO 27701, ISO 31000, ISO 37000, ISO 38500, ISO 45000, ISO 50001, among others).  But is it really?

We know that ISO standards are good, but do you know that there are 4 key weaknesses with them when it comes to data centers?

  • Each standard (typically) covers only one discipline which means they are not integrated
  • They rely heavily on the defined and often limited scope
  • They are generic for any type of company/business i.e. they are not specifically written for data center operations. They don’t account for the different needs of the data center operations, leaving many gaps unaddressed   
  • They are based on pass/fail, there is no scale to measure the level of excellence/maturity nor do they allow prioritization and alignment based on business value which might differ for each data center.



A false sense of assurance

It is clear that the use of ISO as the benchmark for data center operations, though it has its value, leaves data centers vulnerable to some critical blind spots in the SOPs and MOPs. It gives stakeholders a false sense of assurance while it is a latent/lurking risk (operational/staff) which can trigger anytime, causing undesirable and costly downtime!


What the data center industry really needs!

It is time data centers start addressing the gaps not covered by general ISO standards. The data center industry needs;

  1. A clearly defined baseline which covers all operations disciplines in a data center
  2. A standard that is written purely for data center environments which is aligned and works together with ISO standards, to address the gaps, and have all the processes aligned and integrated.   
  3. A standard which respects different business requirements for different types of data centers, based on different levels of process maturity, not a pass/fail criteria


DCOS - The missing link



The solution is DCOS (Data Centre Operations Standard).  It is written specifically for data centers, covering all 11 disciplines to run an effective and efficient high-availability data center.

Of the 11 disciplines, 10 can be mapped to 9 ISO standards (refer table below). However, bear in mind that although you may have all 9 ISO certifications, you will still have gaps within each discipline which are not covered by the ISO standards. 

Adding the DCOS to your current ISO certifications (whether you have 1, 2 or all 9) will give you the full cover and protection for effective, efficient and resilient data center operations. 


DCOS also respects that there are different types of data centers and different business objectives. Therefore, DCOS is not based on pass/fail but on well-defined ISO process maturity model making it adaptable to any business requirements.


DCOS will give you the complete coverage that you need to protect your data center from undesirable downtime!

An effective data center should be at minimum DCOS-3 because DCOS-3 validates that all the processes and procedures are in place and implemented. Some data centers might consider a maturity level of DCOS-5 which is the highest level of operations excellence. Refer to the chart below for the comparison for DCOS-1 to DCOS-5:



Progressive improvement

DCOS allows for progressive improvement by improving the maturity levels and/or adding disciplines.. You are not obliged to immediately implement all of the 11 disciplines. You can pick the ones which you believe are most critical to your data center operations or those who you feel require improvements. 

As you get the chosen disciplines to your target level of maturity, you can then add additional disciplines as and when required/desired.


The 5 steps to operational excellence!

The ideal way to move from the current state to your desired state of operational excellence is;

  1. Select your critical disciplines and perform a Gap Analysis on these to identify your current maturity level for each discipline
  2. Address any potential gaps and bring your disciplines to the desired maturity level
  3. Get a 3rd party audit to validate the level achieved and to publicize your achievement to the world!
  4. Achieve and maintain operational excellence in your chosen disciplines and at your target maturity
  5. Keep improving by adding disciplines and/or improving the maturity levels based on your business requirements

DCOS allows true integration of Data Center Operations and ISO standards and other process standards without compromise!

DCOS is your solution to reduce risk and achieve real operational EXCELLENCE for your Data Center and deliver truly Reliable Services.




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EPI Data Centre Operations Standard (DCOS)

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