Bruno Fery, Head of Data Centre Services, EBRC

First published in Le Mag EBRC 2018-2019

Why isTier IV certification? An interview with Bruno Fery, EBRC Head of Data Centre Services

Why obtain Tier IV "Constructed Facility" certification?

Uptime Institute’s international Tier IV certification, much like the ISO 27001, ISO 20000 and ISO 22301 standards, enables us to prove the quality of our offering as an IT service provider. This international standard is a prerequisite for growing business with global companies. We need this because EBRC has more than 400 clients from 45 countries. Selecting a Data Centre is frequently the first step taken by clients as part of their strategy for developing business in Europe. Most often it is the base from where central decision-making activities are based. Having certification of that calibre is a clear guarantee of the expertise we have acquired, with this verified by independent audits. Ultimately this saves our clients a lot of time,” explained Bruno Fery.

For example: we set up VALVE’s entire European infrastructure in just a few weeks. EBRC’s Tier IV Data Centres support the gaming technology developed by this firm, the Seattlebased world leader in online gaming. This enabled them to continue offering an optimal gaming experience, with continuous operation and high availability combined with very low latency times. This is thanks to the excellent connectivity available in Luxembourg. Gamers have demanding expectations, and high availability and low latency are often the most crucial requirements. Other industries, such as in the FinTech space, also have similarly high requirements.

In 2005, some clients expressed a preference for being hosted in a Tier IV Data Centre. Back then, although white papers had been published there was no formal certification process. This is why we decided in that year to build the first Tier-IV-ready Data Centre in Luxembourg. Subsequently, in 2013, the Resilience Centre South was certified as a Tier IV Constructed Facility, becoming the very first Data Centre in Luxembourg, the third in Europe, and the ninth in the world to obtain this highest certification level.

EBRC’s clients manage sensitive data. They must trust their IT service provider fully to guarantee high availability and high performance for their critical services and networks. Over the years, EBRC has developed unique expertise in designing, implementing and operating critical IT infrastructure, delivering on our promises and providing very high levels of resilience and security.

EBRC uses state-of-the-art infrastructure to offer constant availability. Redundant hosting capabilities ensure that our clients’ systems and data are safe in all of our Tier IV certified fault tolerant Data Centres. They are built to “design and constructed facility” standards.

For our clients, certification issued by Uptime Institute is the sole tangible assurance of quality delivered by their Data Centre service provider.

What activities does the Data Centre support? How does it achieve this?

EBRC offers a range of comprehensive, integrated IT services across six business lines: advisory, managed services, cloud, security, resilience (Business Continuity) and Data Centre. This positioning enables each client to develop their projects from top to bottom, and this with a single provider which is fully versed in the intricacies of each IT component. We have modelled four pathways to meet our clients’ expectations: digital transformation, tailored projects, start-up and innovation, and business development in Europe. Capitalising on our experience this way provides optimised responses and reduced lead times.

EBRC’s offering was initially shaped by the financial sector’s requirement to integrate security “by design” into their infrastructure. This added value has increasingly become a priority in every industry we work with: banking, insurance, other financial businesses, government, e-commerce, health, FinTech, defence, state institutions, and space.

In 2018, EBRC crystallised a cross-cutting approach to Cyber-Resilience offering crisis management and guaranteeing Business Continuity. This approach makes maintaining our clients’ business operations a priority.
Starting with a Business Impact Analysis (BIA), there are seven key steps to the process of continuous improvement:

  1. Prepare
  2. Identify
  3. Protect
  4. Detect
  5. Analyse
  6. Respond
  7. Recover

This process is also based on ISO standards.
Cyber—Resilience = ISO 31000 + ISO 27001 + ISO 22301 + ISO 22316.

It also uses very sophisticated protection and response facilities such as a CERT and a SOC, both of which EBRC has created internally.

What advantages has obtaining Tier IV certification brought? What challenges has it enabled you to meet?

Communication and procedures," replied Bruno Fery.

Obtaining Tier IV Constructed Facility certification for the Resilience Centre South was quite a challenge. That Data Centre was the first of three to undergo an on-site audit conducted by experts from Uptime Institute. Certification was achieved after auditors conducted breakdown simulations while the system was operational. Our clients were able to follow this certification process. This required close communication between our teams and our clients’ teams, and this experience helped build additional trust. In practice, 63 critical tests were performed over the course of a week. “EBRC’s Data Centre services team had to work effectively under considerable pressure. In the end, the feedback from our clients was excellent”, said Bruno Fery.

Another successfully completed major challenge involved ensuring that state-of-the-art technology for carbon footprint reduction was in line with Tier IV criteria. To achieve this, EBRC opted to invest in more expensive technologies which are significantly more efficient in terms of energy consumption. EBRC was thus able to reduce its carbon emissions by 10,000 tonnes per year thanks to this investment in new technology.

Combine the latest carbon-footprint reduction technology with Tier IV criteria:

  • Kyoto wheels: cooling using indirect air with an adiabatic exchanger as a free cooling system
  • Use of stored rainwater
  • IP-Bus topology for UPS capacity components and distribution channels
  • Racks equipped with aisles channelling cold air in order to optimise energy performance
  • Natural “free cooling” used and further optimised by pulverised water spray

Our methods are based on Uptime Institute’s principle of Starting with the goal in mind, emphasised Bruno Fery. This was particularly the case when aligning our infrastructures to operational needs; taking into account our clients’ requirements, CAPEX, OPEX and Tier IV objectives. Each test was prepared ahead of the TCCF (Tier Certification of Constructed Facility) process:

  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • Procedure Method
  • Emergency Operating Procedures

Some key facts about EBRC Data Centres

With five interconnected Data Centres, for a total in excess of 15,000 m² of private and shared server space spread out across Luxembourg, EBRC offers state-of-the-art infrastructures meeting the highest client requirements. EBRC is a Luxembourg-based company offering network connectivity that provides access to 70% of European GDP within a radius of under 500 km. In addition, a direct fibre optic link connects the European Reliance Centre East to SES, the world leading communications satellite operator. More than 70 satellites in two separate orbits (geo-synchronous equatorial orbit - GEO, and medium Earth orbit - MEO), SES provides clients in all industries with video distribution and data transfer services.

What most impressed was not the “things”, but rather the human aspect. The most compelling message taken from this EBRC TCCF demonstration is not the technical capabilities of the facility, which are significant, but the commitment of management and the engineering staff. Bruno Fery has truly empowered his engineering staff. All high-performance organisations are committed to the contribution of their human assets to the organisation, and EBRC exemplifies this corporate thinking and culture. I expect we will hear much more about EBRC and its successes.” Ed Rafter, Principal of Uptime Institute, June 2013.