UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories), an independent safety organization headquartered in the US, has officially launched a certification scheme for data centers.

The certificate, known as UL3223, was developed in partnership with ESD Consulting to access reliability and safety of data centers.

The launch was announced in a press release this week, but the existence of the standard itself has been known for a while: its development began in 2016, and in January 2018, QTS became the first operator to certify its data center - the colocation facility in Chicago.

The full UL3223 specification is expected to be published later this month.

Update: you can find the full specification here, priced $225-$250.

Data center as a product

UL Mark
UL Mark – UL

UL was established in 1894 as a bureau of the National Board of Fire Underwriters. Today, it is mostly known as the organization responsible for the UL Mark, a certification mark that appears on 22 billion American products every year to indicate they had passed independent testing.

UL says that the new Data Center Certification Program will help mitigate risk for data center owners and operators by providing a set of criteria to “increase end-user transparency, provider accountability, and proper data center documentation.”

It also suggests that certifying with UL3223 would help data center operators reduce their construction costs and their insurance premiums.

The scope of UL3223 includes six components: concurrent maintainability, reliability, security, sustainability, commissioning and safety.

“This certification program built around the UL 3223 Standard is particularly relevant for leading providers of large scale colocation and hyperscale capacity, due to their large potential risk,” said Chris Hasbrook, vice president and general manager for UL’s Building Materials and Life Safety Technologies division.

“It will serve as an important benchmark for enterprise and government organizations looking to outsource in the safest and most reliable facilities.”

Critics of the standard point out that UL3223 is somewhat redundant, considering the existence of several well-established data center certification programs.

An engineer working for a major real estate consultancy told DCD that UL remained a US-centric organization, so the scheme would likely carry little weight in Europe and Asia.