Are we facing a digital blackout? Most data centers have no certification

Although we are increasingly dependent on interrupted access to digital data, the most secure data centers account for less than 1% of the market, according to Telecommunication Industry Association (TIA) data. Only 23 facilities worldwide, including one in Poland, have achieved the highest level of certification and can guarantee very high service availability to customers. Meanwhile, the number of data centers globally as of 2022 has already exceeded 8,000. 

The data center market is steadily growing. Gartner predicts that its global value as of the end of 2022 will amount to 226 billion dollars, an increase of 11% compared with 2021. According to USITC (United States International Trade Commission) data, more than 500 data centers were built worldwide over the last year. Strong market growth can also be seen in Poland, where domestic companies and foreign giants are building their campuses.

“IT hardware supply chain disruptions, a deficit of specialists, rising energy costs, economic uncertainty, increasingly complex technology, and migration to cloud environments are some of the reasons why it is so difficult to plan IT investment projects on one’s own, especially over a longer timeframe. Polish business owners are catching up with their Western counterparts, abandoning the more expensive and ineffectual model where their infrastructures are maintained in on-premise server facilities. At the same time, international organizations see Poland as an attractive place for maintaining infrastructures and processing corporate data due to its strategic location in the heart of Europe and access to a large talent pool. All of these factors are accelerating the growth of the Polish data center market,” said Wojciech Stramski, CEO of, data center and cloud services provider and the operator of one of the four most secure data centers in the European Union.

Data center services providers argue that data centers are more cost-effective than maintaining on-premise infrastructures, offer a significantly higher level of security, and, additionally, lower energy bills. But is it true?

How to ensure security? 

As demand increased, and businesses grew more dependent on access to digital data, the need became apparent for vouching for the quality of data center services. This took the form of certification that testifies to maintaining a specific level of reliability and service continuity at data centers. A general rule says that the higher the certification level, the better the guarantee of continuity, reliability and security for the customer’s IT infrastructure. However, the certification process is neither easy nor cheap. Therefore some providers opt against it.

According to TIA (Telecommunication Industry Association) data, there are just four data centers with the ANSI/TIA-942 Rated 4 certification in the European Union. This certificate is awarded to facilities with the highest possible security and reliability level. Rated 4 means that a data center is resistant to all known physical events, and its potential service downtime is just 26 minutes a year. Thanks to fully redundant main and backup power supply systems, cooling systems, and unique operational mechanisms, the failure of one component do not disrupt the operations of the entire data center and does not impact the availability of server infrastructure to the end user. According to TIA, the only facility in Central Europe that has been awarded the Rated 4 certificate is in Poznan, Poland.

“Data center services providers may promise the world in their marketing materials, but certification is the only objective and independent confirmation of a data center’s actual level of quality. Obviously, not every customer requires the highest possible service availability, but large finance, insurance or manufacturing companies definitely do. Certification is one of the most important operators selection criteria, because it minimizes the risk of very costly downtime,” said Wojciech Stramski, CEO of

And what does the situation look like globally? Most Rated 4 certificates have been awarded in Asia, although eight of these 14 certificates have already expired. In North America, there are two Rated 4 data centers.

A high rating – and you can rest easy

Selecting a certified data center is especially important to businesses in industries with high security and IT service continuity requirements, including financial or insurance organizations, industry, e-commerce, or suppliers of resources and services critical to social stability as energy or healthcare.

The best-known data center classification systems are: Rated, by ANSI/TIA (American National Standards Institute /The Telecommunications Industry Association), and Tier, issued by The Uptime Institute. Although these systems may appear to be equivalent, in reality, they differ sharply. They are similar in that they both test the functionality of data centers, awarding ratings on a scale that ranges from sites that only meet the primary conditions to the most reliable and secure facilities. Both the Rated and Tier classification systems comprise four levels, and that is where their similarities end.

Rated, instead of Tier, focuses on qualitative criteria that go far beyond the figures representing the allowable downtime. We should remember that The Uptime Institute is a private company that does not conduct certification according to independent standards, unlike ISO, for example. It is not a standard-setting organization, nor can it define standards for other organizations, unlike ANSI (American National Standards Institute). Once The Uptime Institute awards its certificate, it remains valid indefinitely, even before site construction is completed. It does not require renewal, updates of policies and security measures or improvement of processes, which are critical considerations for the data center industry. For comparison, the ANSI/TIA’s certificate expires after three years, and data centers then have to pass a rigorous recertification process, which means that customers can rest easy, knowing that the standards adopted by their server facility are under continuous control. It should be stressed that when The Uptime Institute is awarding the certificate, it only analyzes elements related to a data center’s energy issues. In contrast, ANSI/TIA also takes into account areas related to physical security, fire protection and telecommunication security. An operator with the ANSI/TIA-942 Rated 4 certification guarantees the highest possible level of service availability.

A list of data centers with the Rated certificate is public and can be found at: