World-class training for data centre designers

April 29th, 2019, Published in Articles: Energize

MTW training centre hosted an Accredited Tier Designers (ATDs) training course recently. The course provides instruction to engineers, design professionals, design-build teams, project managers and project owners on the practical application of Tiers, including common issues and misconceptions. EE Publishers spoke to Isaac Borras Alcaraz, the course leader who was visiting South Africa from Uptime Institute in Dubai.

Isaac Borras Alcaraz

Alcaraz said that the course, which covers the electrical and mechanical aspects related to the construction of a modern data centre, takes three days: two days of formal instruction, followed by a written exam on the third day. The standard is very high, he said. But although the pass mark is 70%, between 70 and 80% of delegates pass it.

In South Africa, the course is recognised by the Engineering Council of South Africa for CPD points.

Data centres are complex facilities which consume a large amount of electric power, mostly for cooling, and are vital to the modern digital world in which we live and work. Data is the backbone of the digital economy. Tim Berners-Lee, recognised as being the father of the Worldwide Web, said “data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.”

Power equipment and devices can cause low and high electromagnetic fields of interference which can harm IT equipment and cable communications, reducing the quality of service and causing downtime.

To address such issues, Uptime Institute developed the Tier Standard, which has been almost universally adopted. The standard evaluates the quality and reliability of data centres. Tier 1 is the simplest infrastructure, while Tier 4 is the most complex. Each tier contains the required components of all the tiers below it. Design rules come into play for Tiers 3 and 4 to address potential threats to uptime of the systems.

Delegates at the recent ATD training course.

Completion of the initial three-day intensive course and passing the ATD exam results in the student receiving the formal ATD designation. This designation forms the minimum basis for all Tier designers. Once the ATD designation is earned, graduates can choose to complete additional courses and submit related evidence to advance their career expertise even higher, advancing to the ATD-Professional and ATD-Expert designations through additional courses and evidence submission.

According to Alcaraz, the certification of a data centre is completed in two steps, the Tier Certification of Design Documents, where Uptime Institute reviews the competed schematics prior to construction of the data centre. The second step is Tier Certification of Constructed Facility, where Uptime Institute experts assess the facility after construction is completed. The duration of the on-site tests could be as long as four or five days, he said, depending on the size of the centre.

However, once certified, the data centre’s clients can be assured of a reliable, properly designed and built facility, he added.

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