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Uptime Institute 11th Annual Global Data Center Survey Shows Sustainability, Outage and Efficiency Challenges Amid Capacity Growth

The results reveal gaps in sustainability tracking, fewer outages with more grave consequences, staffing and supply chain concerns, stalled efficiency gains, and more

SEATTLE, WA – September 14, 2021  – Uptime Institute today announced the release of its eleventh annual Global Data Center Survey, the largest and most comprehensive in the digital critical infrastructure space. The findings showcase an industry enjoying widespread growth while adapting to increasing complexity and challenges such as evolving efficiency and sustainability requirements, rising outage costs, the ongoing workforce shortage, supply chain interruptions and more.

“The 2021 survey results highlight continued growth within the sector and the many complex challenges data center owners and operators are facing today,” said Andy Lawrence, Executive Director of Research, Uptime Institute. “The stakes have never been higher when it comes to outage prevention, environmental sustainability and overall performance. That’s why organizations must continue to carefully reassess their mission-critical digital infrastructure and operations to minimize service delivery risk and maximize resiliency.”

Uptime Institute’s annual Global Data Center Survey provides a comprehensive profile of the current digital critical infrastructure landscape and a sense of its future trajectory. Key findings from the 2021 report include:

  • Organizations are not closely tracking their environmental footprint despite the global sustainability push. While most data center owners and operators track PUE and more than 80% measure power consumption rates and effectiveness, many still are not prioritizing vital metrics for improving and reporting sustainability. Just 51% of respondents measure water use in some way (mainly at the individual site level instead of across their entire portfolio of facilities). Less than half of respondents say that they track server utilization, only one-third calculate carbon emission levels and just 25% track e-waste or equipment lifecycle metrics.
  • Staffing shortages continue and AI is not expected to reduce requirements in the near future. As the sector continues to grow, the shortage of qualified data center professionals continues. Nearly half of owners and operators surveyed report difficulty finding skilled candidates, up from 38% in 2018. As such, it is clear why 75% of respondents believe that most data center professionals have long-term job security. Three out of four owners and operators believe artificial intelligence (AI) will reduce their data center staffing needs at some point, but half project this shift is more than five years away.
  • The number of outages has declined, but the consequences continue to worsen. In 2021, 69% of data center owners and operators reported experiencing some form of outage (regardless of severity) in the past three years, a noteworthy decrease from 78% for the three years to 2020. While respondents indicate that just over half of all downtime incidents are fleeting and have few consequences, the remaining half cause substantial financial, operational and reputational damage. And 62% of outages that respondents classified as significant, serious or severe cost more than $100,000 (an increase from 56% in 2020), while 15% of these outages cost over $1 million.
  • On-site power remains the most common cause of outages, and most downtime incidents are likely preventable. As with previous years, on-site power was the most common cause of outages in 2021, followed by cooling failures, software or IT system errors and network issues. The results show that 79% of data center outages involve human error, and that staff failing to execute or incorrect processes and procedures are the top two issues contributing to those incidents. Three out of four owners and operators believe their most recent outage was preventable, a 16% increase over 2019.
  • Pandemic pressures and more disrupt data center supply chains. The COVID-19 crisis, extreme weather, and political factors have caused supply chain interruptions over the past year. Most suppliers to data centers anticipate that problems with the supply of critical data center products and services in the coming two years will affect capital expenditure projects or IT equipment availability, or both. Just 25% of suppliers believe there will not be any delays or impacts.
  • Data center suppliers expect large cloud and internet companies to reshape the supply chain. Nearly one-third of suppliers expect most of their customers will own data centers 20 MW or more within five years, and half report that these larger customers often seek projects to be delivered on timelines, budgets, or at scales that prove challenging. Half of suppliers believe that large data center operators will likely take more control of their custom designs and create their own supply chains to bypass traditional equipment sourcing options in the next three to five years.
  • Rack density levels are creeping up. Rack density is slowly rising but remains relatively moderate and typically well under 10 kilowatts (kW) per IT cabinet, even at flagship sites. More than one-third of respondents stated their most common rack density is currently below 5 kW, while nearly half reported between 5 and 10 kW. The survey results indicate a shift toward more powerful racks, between 5 and 10 kW, in facilities larger than 3 megawatts (MW) of maximum IT load supported, compared with smaller sites.

Additional Findings:

  • PUE levels remain stagnant. In 2021, the average annualized data center power usage effectiveness (PUE) was 1.57, a minor improvement over 2020’s average of 1.59 that is consistent with the overall trend of PUE stagnation over the past five years.
  • The data center edge expands. More than 60% of respondents anticipate that edge computing demand will increase this year. Over one-fourth (26%) expect demand to grow significantly, compared to just 18% in 2020.
  • Cloud providers lack transparency. Although owners and operators are increasingly moving mission-critical workloads to the public cloud, a quarter of respondents would be more inclined to do so if visibility into the operational resiliency of the service was better.
  • Despite progress, the proportion of women in the data center industry remains low. Nearly one-third (30%) of owners and operators say the proportion of women working in their data centers has increased over the past year. But there is still much work to be done. More than 75% of respondents report that women make up just 10% of their workforce, while only 5% indicate that half of their staff are women. This aligns with gender disparity levels Uptime Institute has reported since 2018.

Learn More: For more information on Uptime Institute’s 2021 Global Data Center Survey findings, download the complete report here. Starting September 16 at 10:00 AM EDT, Uptime Institute will be hosting webinars on the survey results in multiple time zones and languages. To view the complete schedule and register, click here.

About the Survey: Uptime Institute conducts its annual Global Data Center Survey online and by email. This year’s study took place in H1 2021, and includes responses from more than 800 data center owners and operators responsible for managing infrastructure at the world’s largest IT organizations. It also includes insights from more than 550 data center suppliers, designers and advisors from around the world.

About Uptime Institute

Uptime Institute is the world’s foremost digital infrastructure authority, and its Tier Standard is the IT industry’s most trusted and adopted global standard for the proper design, construction and operation of data centers – the backbone of the digital economy. For over 25 years, the company has served as the standard for data center reliability, sustainability, and efficiency, providing customers assurance that their digital infrastructure can perform at a level that is consistent with their business needs across a wide array of operating conditions. With its data center Tier Standard & Certifications, Management & Operations reviews, broad range of related risk and performance assessments, and accredited educational curriculum for data center professionals, Uptime Institute helps organizations optimize critical IT assets while managing costs, resources, and efficiency. Today, thousands of companies rely on Uptime Institute to enable their digital-centric business success.

Uptime Institute - The Global Digital Infrastructure Authority and a division of The 451 Group – has office locations in the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, U.K., Spain, U.A.E., Russia, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia. Visit https://uptimeinstitute.com/ for more information.


Uptime Institute Releases 3rd Annual Outage Analysis

Outage Avoidance Remains a Majority Priority for Operators of Mission-Critical Systems

SEATTLE, WA – April 19, 2021  – Uptime Institute today announced the findings of its Annual Outage Analysis, an important industry indicator, noting that while improvements have been made with technology and better management of availability, outages remain a major industry, customer, and regulatory concern. The report also shows that the overall impact and direct and indirect cost of outages continues to grow.

COVID-19 was a huge influence in 2020, causing major changes in the way IT was used. Although there were significant disruptions affecting financial trading, government services, internet and telecom, the outages that made headlines in 2020 were often about the impact to consumers and workers at home, with interruptions to applications such as Microsoft Exchange and Teams, Zoom, fitness trackers and the like. The costs of outages are often high; when asked about their most recent significant outage, over half of the respondents to Uptime Institute’s 2020 Global Survey of Data Center and IT Managers who reported an outage in the past three years estimated its cost at more than $100,000 (of which almost a third reported costs of $1 million or above).

“Resiliency remains near the top of management priorities when delivering business services,” said Andy Lawrence, executive director of research, Uptime Institute. “Overall, the causes of outages are changing, software and IT configuration issues are becoming more common, while power issues are now less likely to cause a major IT service outage. The fact is outages remain common and justify the increased concern and investment in preventing them. Because of the disruption and high costs that result from disrupted IT services, identifying and analyzing the root causes of failures is a critical step in avoiding more expensive problems.”

Findings include:

  • Almost half (44%) of data center operators surveyed think that concern about resiliency of data center/mission-critical IT has increased in the past twelve months
  • Three-quarters of data center operators/enterprise IT managers said they have experienced an IT service outage in the past three years. Three in ten said they had experienced an outage that had “significant impact.”
  • Serious and severe outages are less common (one in six reported having one in the past three years) but can have catastrophic results for stakeholders. Vigilance and investment are necessary.
  • More than half (56%) of all organizations using a third-party data service have experienced a moderate or serious IT service outage in the last three years that was itself caused by the provider.
  • Networking and configuration issues are emerging as two of the more common causes of service degradation while power outages are becoming somewhat less of an issue – historically, caused by failures in UPSs, transfer switches and generators.

Human Factor:

Humans very often play a role in outages, but the exact nature of the failings can be difficult to pinpoint. In Uptime’s 2020 annual survey, 75% of respondents who had an outage in the last three years said their most recent significant downtime incident would have been preventable with better management or processes. In Uptime’s 2021 data center resiliency survey, 42% of respondents said they had experienced an outage in the last three years due to human error. Among those, 57% cited data center staff execution (e.g., failure to follow procedure) and 44%, incorrect staff processes/procedures, as root causes. From the research, it is clear a better focus on management and training will produce better service delivery performance.

“Uptime Institute’s M&O Stamp of Approval program is a great complement to our industry-leading operations playbook in driving efficiency, business continuity, and reducing human error,” said Mike Casey, Chief Data Center Officer of STACK INFRASTRUCTURE. “Our clients’ peace-of-mind is our top priority, and Uptime Institute’s insights augment the consistent delivery of our award-winning service.”

Hear More on Report Findings:

Join us Wednesday, April 21st, 9:00 AM Pacific time for a webinar on the Outages Report findings with Andy Lawrence, Rhonda Ascierto, vice president research, and Chris Brown, chief technical officer, to hear a detailed discussion on the findings. Register today, as you do not want to miss it.

About Uptime Institute

Uptime Institute and the company’s Tier Standard is the IT industry’s most trusted and adopted global standard for the proper design, build and operation of data centers – the backbone of the digital economy. For over 20 years, Uptime Institute has been providing customers with the assurance that their digital infrastructure can perform at a level that is consistent with their business needs, across a wide array of operating conditions. With its data center Tier Standard & Certifications, Management & Operations reviews, Efficient IT Stamp of Approval, and accredited educational curriculum for data center professionals, Uptime Institute helps organizations optimize critical IT assets while managing costs, resources, and efficiency. Uptime Institute has become the de facto standard for data center reliability, sustainability, and efficiency. Today, thousands of companies rely on Uptime Institute to enable their digital-centric business success.

Uptime Institute - The Global Data Center Authority®, a division of The 451 Group, has office locations throughout the world, including North and South America, Europe, U.A.E., Russia, and Asia.

Sources:
Uptime Institute Global Survey of IT and Data Center Managers
Uptime Institute Data Center Resiliency Survey 2021
Uptime Institute Intelligence public outages database (since 2016)

 

Media Contacts:
Brenda South, Uptime Institute
206.706.0607, bsouth@uptimeinstitute.com


Uptime Institute 10th Annual Global Data Center Survey Shows Increasing Complexities, Outages

Findings show 44% had recent major outage that tangibly impacted their organization

SEATTLE, WA – July 29, 2020  – Uptime Institute today announced the key findings of its tenth annual Global Data Center Survey, the largest and most comprehensive in the data center industry. The results show a growing sector adapting to rapid change on multiple levels. In almost every area under discussion — outages, resiliency, staffing, workload placement or innovation — there is considerable variety in the strategies being employed.

Uptime Institute has reported on data center outages for several years, surveying operators on their experiences with outages, and closely tracking publicly recorded incidents. Even with the inherent difficulty collecting and assessing this information, clear trends from our research emerge: In surveys from 2018 and 2019, and now supported by our 2020 survey, outages occur with disturbing frequency, bigger outages are becoming more damaging and expensive, and what has been gained in improved processes and engineering has been partially offset by the challenges of maintaining ever more complex systems. Avoiding unplanned downtime remains a top technical and business challenge for all owners and operators.

“Our 2020 survey results reflect a strong, growing sector facing increased change and complexity,” said Andy Lawrence, Executive Director of Research, Uptime Institute. “The growing complexity, along with the greater consequences of failure, creates the need for more vigilance and more sophisticated approaches to resiliency, performance and operations.”

Uptime Institute annually conducts its comprehensive global survey across the data center industry. This year’s survey was conducted March-April 2020 and includes responses from nearly 850 managers at organizations that own and operate data centers in more than 50 countries. This group is the focus of Uptime Institute’s new report. A second survey was conducted among a group of over 500 suppliers, designers, and advisors. Those survey results will be released in September 2020.

Bigger, More Frequent Outages, More Painful to Business, and Operators Admit Most Outages Were Preventable

Outages continue to occur with disturbing frequency, and the outages are becoming bigger, more damaging, and more expensive — a fact supported by Uptime Institute survey findings for three years running. In each of these surveys, about one-third of all respondents said they had had been affected by a significant, serious, or severe outage — which can cause substantial financial and reputation damage, impacting organizations in a tangible way in the past year. And over the previous 3-year period, more than three-quarters said they had experienced such an outage.

For 2020, Uptime Institute also delved deeper on the impact of an outage, including smaller service outages that are often not officially recorded. (See Uptime Institute’s Outage Severity Rating for more insight into impacts from various outage categories.) Outages of this type are troubling more for their frequency than for their singular impact — and because they may signal bigger problems.

Three-quarters of organizations admit that, upon reflection, most recent significant outages were preventable. With additional attention and investment, the number of outages will most likely decrease. Power problems continue to be the largest single cause of major outages.

Transparent Clouds are Good for Business

Not surprisingly, organizations surveyed are increasingly embracing public cloud; as a venue for IT workloads, public cloud is expected to increase from 8% of all workloads today to 12% within a two-year period. This growth accounts for the biggest increase of usage for an IT venue in the survey. However, public cloud usage is minimal as a percentage of total enterprise IT workloads, and this limited adoption appears to be a strong growth opportunity for public cloud providers.

But there are obstacles. According to respondents, the lack of visibility, lack of transparency and accountability of public cloud services is clearly a major issue for these enterprises considering public cloud for business-critical applications. A fifth of managers said they would be more likely to run their critical workloads in a public cloud if there were a higher level of visibility into the operational resiliency of the service.

Average Site Energy Efficiency has Flatlined; Rack Densities are rising, but Facilities are Not Stretched.

The findings of last year’s survey showed that data centers had become marginally less efficient in the preceding year (average PUE of 1.67 in 2019, compared with 1.58 in 2018). In 2020, the average PUE (power usage effectiveness) for a data center was 1.59, a slight improvement. (Most operators strive for a PUE ratio as close to 1.0 as possible.) Because more work is now done in big, efficient facilities, the overall energy efficiency of IT has improved.

The mean density for rack density in 2020 was 8.4 kilowatts per rack. Additionally, densities are rising, but not enough to drive wholesale site-level changes in power distribution or cooling.

Additional Findings:

  • The enterprise data center is neither dead nor dying, while the Edge is still on the edge. The migration of critical loads to a public cloud is happening slowly, with more than half of all IT workloads expected to remain in traditional on-premises data centers through at least 2022. Edge computing requirements are expected to increase slightly in 2020, but fewer than a fifth of all respondents expect a significant increase.
  • Artificial intelligence will not take over – yet. Artificial intelligence and automation will not reduce data center operations staffing requirements in the next five years. After that, however, most think it will.
  • The data center staffing crisis is getting worse. The number of managers stating they are having difficulty finding qualified candidates for open infrastructure positions is rising steadily. Women continue to be under-represented. More effort is needed to address the workforce gender imbalance and take advantage of the larger and more diverse skilled talent pool.

For more information on the Uptime Institute 2020 Global Data Center Survey findings, download the survey report and join us for a webinar on the 2020 Global Data Center Survey Results presented by Andy Lawrence, Executive Director of Research, Rhonda Ascierto, Vice President of Research, and Christopher Brown, Chief Technical Officer on Wednesday, July 29th, at 9:00 AM PDT.

About Uptime Institute

Uptime Institute and the company’s Tier Standard has become the IT industry’s most trusted and adopted global standard for the proper design, build and operation of data centers – the backbone of the digital economy. For over 25 years, Uptime Institute has been providing customers with the assurance that their digital infrastructure can perform at a level consistent with their business needs, across a wide array of operating conditions. With its data center Tier Standard & Certifications, Management & Operations reviews, Efficient IT Stamp of Approval, and accredited educational curriculum for data center professionals, Uptime Institute helps organizations optimize critical IT assets while managing costs, resources, and efficiency. Today, thousands of companies rely on Uptime Institute to enable their digital-centric business success. Uptime Institute - The Global Data Center Authority®, has office locations throughout the world, including those in North and South America, Europe, Middle East, Russia, and Asia.

 

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(Note: The impact of COVID-19 was not the focus of this survey and is not included in this report. Uptime Institute conducted extensive surveys assessing the pandemic’s effects on the sector; additional resources may be found in the Uptime Institute COVID-19 Resource page.)

Media Contacts:
Brenda South, Uptime Institute
206.706.4647, bsouth@uptimeinstitute.com


Uptime Institute Announces Industry’s First Global Data Center Staffing Forecast Report

Digital Growth Fuels Strong Demand for Data Center Capacity, can Staffing Recruitment and Required Skill Sets Rise to the Challenge?

SEATTLE, WA – January 26, 2020  – Uptime Institute today announced the availability of its Global Data Center Staffing Forecast 2021-2025, the digital infrastructure industry’s first comprehensive forecast of workforce needs — by region, by data center type, and by staff minimum education requirements.

In every geographic region, data center capacity is dramatically expanding in a build-out of historic proportions. That requires people — to design, build and operate data centers. The availability (or lack) of specialist staff will be an increasing concern for all types of data centers, from mega-growth hyperscales to small, private enterprise facilities. By quantifying demand, this research will help raise awareness of the strong employment opportunities for job seekers and give employers, education institutions, and governments a way to measure the need for investment in workforce training and education.

Data center staff requirements are forecast to grow globally from about 2 million full-time employees in 2019 to nearly 2.3 million by 2025. Most demand is expected in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by North America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. In the large and mature data center markets of the U.S. and Western Europe, there is concern that many employees are due to retire about the same time, causing an additional surge in demand, especially for senior roles. This “silver tsunami” effect may last for the coming decade.

“This study helps us as an industry better understand the size and scope of the staffing challenge,” said Rhonda Ascierto, vice president of research, Uptime Institute. “It is also a quantitative assessment of the long-term career opportunities available. This is a fast-growing and dynamic industry — and we need people from all backgrounds, all over the world.”

Historic Growth of Demand:

  • Demand growth will mainly come from cloud and colocation data centers. Cloud data centers — either owned or leased by cloud/internet companies — will require the most staff, by a significant margin.
  • Enterprise data centers are expected to continue to employ many staff, although the cloud workforce will surpass enterprise after 2025.

Staffing Requirements:

  • Most positions will require either a university/college or technical trade school degree or — critically — equivalent experience that can be substituted for a formal education. Employers should reevaluate their current job requirements to attract a wider pool of diverse talent.
  • More education and training, including on-the-job, will be key to meeting future demand.
  • Technical staff are notoriously difficult to recruit for data centers. Mechanical and electrical engineers in strategy and operations roles, and all types of controls and monitoring employees, are among the technical staff that will be increasingly needed through (at least) 2025.

To create the forecast, Uptime Institute Intelligence estimated demand for more than 230 specialist job roles (organized into nine job domains) needed to design, build, and operate data centers. Estimates are based on industry input and extensive expert advice from across Uptime Institute.

Join us Wednesday, February 3rd at 9:00 AM Pacific time, for a webinar on the report findings with Rhonda Ascierto and our esteemed guest speakers Heather Dooley, Head of Data Center Business Operations, Google Data Centers, and Nancy Novak, chief innovation officer, Compass Datacenters. Register today, as you do not want to miss it.

Information is available on all accredited educational course offerings and advanced seminars, also see the full Uptime Institute 2021 Course Calendar.

About Uptime Institute

Uptime Institute and the company’s Tier Standard has become the IT industry’s most trusted and adopted global standard for the proper design, build and operation of data centers – the backbone of the digital economy. For over 25 years, Uptime Institute has provided customers with the assurance that their digital infrastructure can perform at a level consistent with their business needs across a wide array of operating conditions. With its data center Tier Standard & Certifications, Management & Operations reviews, Efficient IT Stamp of Approval, and accredited education curriculum for data center professionals, Uptime Institute helps organizations optimize critical IT assets while managing costs, resources, and efficiency. Today, thousands of companies rely on Uptime Institute to enable their digital-centric business success. Uptime Institute — The Global Data Center Authority® — has office locations throughout the world, including those in North and South America, Europe, Middle East, Russia, and Asia.

 

Media Contacts:
Brenda South, Uptime Institute
206.706.0607, bsouth@uptimeinstitute.com


Uptime Institute Introduces Remotely-Enabled Services Across Its Entire Digital Infrastructure Portfolio

Introduces Remotely-Enabled Versions of its Industry-Leading Digital Infrastructure Assessments, Certifications and Educational Offerings

SEATTLE, WA – May 4, 2020  – Uptime Institute today announced the availability of new remotely-enabled versions of its globally recognized Tier Standard Certifications, Accredited Educational curriculum, Data Center Risk Assessment, Management & Operations Stamp of Approval, and Facilities Management and Operations services. These new services can be utilized by clients globally today, even with non-traditional business operating plans in effect due to the COVID-19 epidemic, in order to reduce the service delivery risks associated with digital infrastructure design, operations, risk assessment and education.

During the current global health and economics crises, Uptime Institute has seen a significant increase in the demand for its infrastructure risk reduction and educational services. Even after the current pandemic crisis has subsided, each organization will need to revisit their own ‘new normal’ to better enable them to create and operate digital infrastructure with the same performance characteristics they have benefited from in the past.

Accordingly, Uptime Institute has developed remotely-enabled versions of most of its core service offerings while still maintaining the overall value and certification available by utilizing each of these remotely-enabled services:

  • Tier Standard Certification – Uptime Institute has revised many of the protocols in place to deliver Tier Standard Certification of Design, Construction and Operations of data center facilities. These revisions eliminate a significant portion of the on-site work previously required, without changing any of the fundamental certification value.
  • Accredited Educational Curriculum – All of the Uptime Institute courses introduced over the past 10 years have been updated to allow remote enrollment and attendance along with the associated testing and accreditation.
  • Data Center Risk Assessment – Includes off-site review of design documents and findings with a preliminary report. For M&O, the remote assessment includes interviews with select operations staff for view of proactive readiness.
  • Management & Operations Stamp of Approval – This is a remotely conducted operational assessment to assist clients in obtaining a complete picture of an organization’s preparedness and proactiveness in today’s environment. Independent review of current plans and processes is generally where the biggest issues are discovered, and ties directly to overall execution for the data center.
  • Facilities Management and Operations (FMO) – Virtual workshops provide a strategic approach to balance data center forward-looking objectives like availability, cost and performance. Workshops are designed to offer hands-on guidance for successful long-term operations of the data center and includes final report.

“For the past 25 years, Uptime Institute has built our entire business on helping owners and operators reduce service delivery risks associated with their digital infrastructures,” said Martin McCarthy, CEO, Uptime Institute. “With recent world developments, and in response to customer demand, we have introduced these new remotely-enabled service and course offerings to empower our customers to proactively respond to these infrastructure challenges. Our goal is to empower the data center owner and operator to not only effectively operate throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic but to use the knowledge gained from this experience for more successful and strategic planning into the future. We believe more remote execution is the new normal and took this opportunity to redesign our product service offerings for smarter and faster delivery to help our clients reduce risk.”

About Uptime Institute

Uptime Institute is the IT industry’s most trusted and adopted global standard for the proper design, construction and operation of data centers – the backbone of the digital economy. For over 25 years, Uptime Institute has provided clients with knowledge, insight, and risk mitigation to assure their digital infrastructure can perform at a level consistent with business needs across a wide array of operating conditions. Uptime Institute helps organizations optimize critical IT assets while managing costs, resources and efficiency. Uptime Institute has become the de facto standard for data center reliability, sustainability and efficiency. Today, thousands of companies rely on Uptime Institute to enable their digital-centric business success.

 

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Media Contacts:
Brenda South, Uptime Institute
206.706.4647, bsouth@uptimeinstitute.com