Every industry has its prestigious awards recognizing excellence in various fields and forms. For the data center industry, it’s Uptime Institute’s M&O Stamp of Approval. 

The organization’s Management & Operations (M&O) Stamp of Approval incorporates over 25 years of data center assessments and consultations at critical facilities worldwide into best practices. The Stamp of Approval is designed to recognize data centers that have successfully aligned everyday staff and organizational practices with higher-level business objectives like risk reduction, improved efficiency, and higher availability and uptime. 

STACK INFRASTRUCTURE has earned the M&O Stamp of Approval for several facilities across our portfolio, making a concerted effort to meet the Uptime Institute’s lofty standards for staffing and organization, maintenance and operations, management, and planning excellence. 

Here’s a look at the three essential elements of STACK’s certification qualification approach and the foundation of delivering consistent, high-quality, and reliable services to customers across our entire footprint. 

Meeting qualification standards, exceeding expectations

Earning the M&O Stamp of Approval requires more effort than simply filling out some forms and waiting for a decision. Rather, Uptime Institute sends well-regarded data center operations experts to a data center site — or conducts a virtual visit — to ascertain how a data center is organized, learn more about its escalation procedures, check the maintenance frequencies, and evaluate emergency standard operating procedures and event management policies. 

The rigorous evaluation process requires thorough homework by the data center being evaluated. STACK’s preparation focuses on three essential elements:

  • Driving operational and managerial consistency across the organization
  • Maintaining a dedicated technical operations team
  • Devising and updating a comprehensive operations playbook spanning both global and local operating policies and procedures. 

For evaluation purposes, each pillar of our approach is specifically designed to mirror and address the Institute’s lofty standards for recognizing excellence. As a practical matter, this multi-pronged methodology is also a proven vehicle for delivering consistent, high-quality, and high-value data center solutions for our customers nationwide. 

Driving operational consistency

One of the M&O Stamp of Approval program’s most significant benefits is that the assessment results help data center operators introduce consistency, transparency, and industry best practices into their data center management and operations processes.

STACK has fully internalized the message of consistency, baking it into our corporate culture and daily operations management initiatives. Just as consumer-facing brands like Starbucks or high customer-service brands like Ritz-Carlton have standardized day-to-day operations across every store or property, STACK similarly has undertaken initiatives to maintain predictability and consistency across every facet of our operations — from safety and team management to uptime/availability standards, communication policies, and continuous learning and development. 

For customers, knowing they’ll have the same exceptional experience in STACK’s data centers is vital when selecting a data center partner. For the Uptime Institute, demonstrating the ability to sufficiently address and overcome technical and organizational complexity spanning multiple sites, regions, cultures, and climates is a core component of the organization’s larger mission of driving higher uptime and service availability. 

Maintaining a dedicated technical operations team

Every data center is staffed with highly-skilled, qualified technicians, engineers, and operations experts. But STACK has taken a slightly different approach to personnel management, maintaining a full-time technical operations team dedicated to implementing company-wide operations policies, training new and existing employees on the most recent and updated guidelines, and maintaining operational consistency across technical infrastructure and instrumentation.

Centralizing our technical operations framework to a dedicated technical operations team is the simplest and most effective way to ensure consistent application of policies, procedures, and best practices in service of high availability and reliable performance. 

Comprehensive operational playbook

Perhaps the most crucial element of STACK INFRASTRUCTURE’s approach to operational excellence is our comprehensive, richly-detailed operations playbook. While many data centers leave daily operations policies and procedures to individual facilities, we’ve opted to take a more global, top-down approach to standardize performance expectations across the company while still empowering local leaders with the flexibility and autonomy to make decisions for best supporting our growing customer base. 

The playbook, which took more than a year to develop initially, features both global policies — categorized into Safety, Team Availability, Communication, and Knowledge — as well as detailed local policies that govern every aspect of our data center operations, including:

  • Electrical safety protocols, policies, and approvals process
  • Availability guidelines and operating procedures
  • Preventive maintenance standards and schedules for every piece of equipment, including quarterly and annual maintenance schedules for mission-critical infrastructure

The depth and breadth of the playbook is among the most comprehensive in the industry. It’s purposely sophisticated to mirror our industry’s complexity and rapidly changing nature and covers high-level concepts and operational minutiae alike. It’s easily accessible through a convenient cloud-based, internal team site that makes it easier to train staff, maintain consistent operational safety and efficiency, and enable smoother and more efficient growth as our customers expand their existing deployments or plan new ones. 

In pursuit (and proof) of excellence

Every data center operator has a goal of delivering exceptional, reliable, and scalable service to its customers. Earning the Uptime Institute’s M&O Stamp of Approval validates publicly that STACK INFRASTRUCTURE has taken the necessary steps — and then some — to achieve a level of excellence in managing and operating our critical facilities to reduce downtime risks due to human errors, achieve higher resource utilization, increased efficiency, and improve overall operational sustainability.

Contact us today to arrange an in-person or virtual tour of one of STACK’s 20 high-performance, high-capacity data centers.

Mike Casey is STACK INFRASTRUCTURE's Chief Data Center Officer