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Introducing Uptime Institute FORCSS

By Julian Kudritzki and Matt Stansberry

Copyright 2013 by Uptime Institute, LLC

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The Global Data Center Authority

Uptime Institute FORCSS

Uptime Institute FORCSS is an original system to capture, compare, and prioritize the various impacts to the many IT
deployment alternatives.

On an ongoing basis, enterprise organizations decide to deploy IT assets in an internal data center, colocation facility, hosting
environment, or cloud solution. These decisions may not holistically view the financial, risk, performance, or other impacts.
FORCSS enables the management of an enterprise organization to identify, weigh, and communicate the advantages and risks of
IT applications deployment options using a consistent and relevant criteria based in business drivers and influences.

Since its inception, the mission of the Uptime Institute has been
to assist the enterprise in devising feasible and adaptable data
center solutions that are responsive to the business. Successful A 2012 Uptime Institute survey of global
solutions align data center design, technology selection, owners (IT user organizations) revealed that
construction, and operation to achieve high reliability. One 85% utilize colocation or hosting.
of the leading challenges today is deciding the most viable IT Yet 54% had no confidence in their ability
deployment option. to compare outsourcing alternatives. This
lack of confidence is detrimental to both
FORCSS helps the enterprise to overcome this challenge by the enterprise IT users and the providers
focusing on the critical selection factors, thereby reducing or of outsourcing alternatives, as it calls
eliminating unfounded assumptions and organizational blind into question the basis and viability of the
spots. FORCSS establishes a consistent and repeatable set of commitments between the two parties.
evaluation criteria and a structure to communicate the informed
decision to stakeholders.

A coherent IT deployment strategy is often difficult because the staff responsible for IT assets and IT services across multiple
geographies and multiple operating units are themselves spread over multiple geographies and operating units. The result can
be a range of operating goals, modes, and needs that are virtually impossible to incorporate into a single, unified deployment
strategy. And when a single strategy is developed from the top down, the staff responsible for implementing that strategy often
struggles to adapt that strategy to their operational requirements and environments.

FORCSS was developed to provide organizations with the flexibility to respond to varying organizational needs while maintaining
a consistent overall strategic approach to IT deployments. FORCSS represents a process a) to apply consistent selection criteria
to specific deployment options, and b) to translate the outcome of the key criteria into a concise structure that can be presented to
non-IT executive management.

The FORCSS system is composed of six necessary and sufficient selection factors relevant to an effective deployment decision.
These six factors, or criteria, provide a holistic evaluation system, and drive a succinct decision exercise that avoids analytical
paralysis. FORCSS identifies the relevant internal and external input. And, by scaling the importance of the criteria within the
system, FORCSS allows each organization to align the decision process to organizational needs and business drivers.

FORCSS is timely for todays enterprise management. In the past, decision makers considered a limited set of competitive
offerings. Today, the vast majority of enterprises are moving to a hybrid computing environment. The decision is not binary
whether or not to outsource. It is multi-facetedhow many and how much of each alternative to deploy. FORCSS strengthens the
enterprises capability to determine the right mix for today and for the future.

Uptime Institute FORCSS


The Uptime Institute FORCSS system is a means to evaluate deployment alternatives. Accordingly, it is crucial to have a working
knowledge of the tangible or intangible values associated with the application being deployed. Tangible values are notably
revenues and intangible end-user satisfaction. To be effective and lasting, FORCSS must involve the stakeholder requesting the IT
deployment. In other words, dont lose sight of your client.

FORCSS is composed of six factors with three supporting data inputs.

Uptime Institute FORCSS

The fiscal consequences associated with deployment alternatives.

Net Revenue Impact: An estimation of gross profit marginestimated revenues of IT service or application minus
cost of ownership.

Comparative Cost of Ownership: The identified differential cost of deploying the alternative plus ongoing operations
and maintenance, including the incremental cost of scaling the alternative as business grows.

For example: Significant costs centers can include real estate development, MEP infrastructure, cost of financing, taxes,
IT equipment, software license and customization, staffing, service provider and consulting fees. The most definitive cost
information for each alternative is from a Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO) accounting protocol, for those few companies
that have the capability to reliably determine TCO. Differential and incremental cost is often more directly determined.

Cash and Funding Commitment: Representation of liquiditycash necessary at appropriate intervals for the
projected duration of the business service.

A deployment alternatives ability to fulfill compute capacity demand over time.

Time to Value: The time period from decision to IT service availability. Timeline must include department deployment
schedules of IT, facilities, network, and service providers.

Scalable Capacity: Available capacity for expansion of a given deployment alternative.

Business Leverage and Synergy: Significant ancillary benefits of a deployment alternative outside of the specific
application or business service.

For example: Improve economies of scale and pricing for other applications. Or, geographic location of a particular site
provides business benefits beyond the scope of a single application.

A deployment alternatives potential for negative business impacts.

Cost of Downtime vs. Availability: Estimated cost of an IT service outage vs. forecasted availability of deployment

Acceptable Security Assessment: Internal security staff evaluation of deployment alternatives physical and data

Supplier Flexibility: Potential lock-ins from a technical or contractual standpoint.

For example: Rating situations as simple, difficult/costly, or impossible to negotiate regarding software,
hardware, site, and service provider commitments.

Uptime Institute FORCSS

Verification, internal and/or third-party, of a deployment alternatives compliance with regulatory, industry, or other relevant

Government: Legally mandated reporting obligations associated with the application or business service.

For example: HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, PCI-DSS.

Corporate Policies: Internal reporting requirements associated with the application or business service.

For example: Data protection and privacy, ethical procurement, Corporate Social Responsibility.

Compliance & Certifications to Industry Standards: Current or recurring validations achieved by the site or service
provider, beyond internal and governmental regulations.

For example: SAS 70, SSAE 16, Uptime Institute Tier Certification or M&O Stamp of Approval, ISO.

Environmental consequences of a deployment alternative.

Carbon and Water Impact: Carbon and water use for given a site or service.

For example: The Green Grids Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE) and Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) metrics.

Green Compliance & Certifications: Current or recurring validations achieved by the site or service provider, beyond
internal and governmental regulations, of sustainable design and/or operations practices.

For example: LEED, BREEAM, Carbon Credits, European Union Code of Conduct, U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR, and The
Green Grids DC Maturity Model equalizer.

PUE Reporting: PUE is an industry-accepted indicator of a site or service providers efficiency commitment.

A deployment alternatives capability to meet end-user performance requirements.

Application Availability: Computing environment uptime at the application or operating system level.

Application Performance: Evaluation of an application functional response; acceptable speeds at the end-user level.

End-User Satisfaction: Stakeholder response that an application or deployment alternative addresses end-user
functional needs.

For example: End-user preference for Graphical User Interfaces or Operating/Management Systems tied to a specific
deployment alternative.

Uptime Institute FORCSS


This system was developed and validated by thought leaders in the enterprise IT industry, to ensure usefulness by those who
inform senior-level decision makers.

Many organizations already perform due diligence that would include most of this process. But the Uptime Institute FORCSS
system provides the following:

A structure and a set of common definitions agreed upon by an elite group of data center owners and operators from
around the world.
A succinct and effective way to communicate recommendations to the C-level executives.

Uptime Institute believes the FORCSS system is sufficiently flexible and comprehensive to improve IT investment decisions.

Notes on using FORCSS:

Uptime Institute acknowledges that there are overlaps and dependencies across all six factors. But, in order to provide a succinct,
sufficient process to inform C-level decision makers, categories must be finite and separate to avoid analysis paralysis. The
purpose of FORCSS is to identify the business requirements of the IT service, and pragmatically evaluate capabilities of potential
deployment options as defined.

Uptime Institute recognizes organizations will have unique business demands and priorities. Therefore, it will be necessary for
each company conducting a FORCSS analysis to weigh each criteria according to specific business requirements. For example,
most companies try to maximize data center efficiency. But, for a growing number of organizations, overall environmental
sustainability of operations and supplier choices is a very public (therefore critical) aspect of their business. Organizations
that put a high value on sustainability will weigh the criteria accordingly when applying FORCSS in their organizations. Other
organizations may weigh sustainability at a low value, or inconsequential.

Uptime Institute is currently evaluating numerous concepts for FORCSS displays. These displays will be graphical in nature,
rather than a numerical score, to allow for evaluation of each factor within FORCSS and provide a visual comparison of one
deployment alternative against another.

Please visit FORCSS on the Uptime Institute Web site for the latest information and tools.

Uptime Institute FORCSS


In order to ensure the development of a well-rounded, thorough, and useful methodology, The following individuals,
Uptime Institute facilitated a series of Charrettes. (A Charrette is a design process that brings representing the companies
stakeholders together at one time, in one place, as a group completing design tasks in a listed, were among those who
focused, time-limited effort.) The benefits of this approach are that the stakeholders begin attended the second Uptime
with a common understanding of the design objective, share in the development process, and Institute Charrette:
receive immediate feedback on the result of their deliberations.
Christian Belady
In October 2011 the first Charrette was held, composed of peers within Uptime Institute and General Manager
the 451 Group. The fundamental objective was to define the problem and assemble an original Data Center Services
framework to be submitted at a second Charrette of key industry stakeholders. This initial work Microsoft (U.S.)
created the structure of a multiple-component solution, including business functions, facilities
infrastructure, computing hardware, and applications performance perspectives. Luis I. Gutirrez de
Cabiedes Espinosa
Building on this foundational effort, in January 2012, Uptime Institute hosted over 25 hand- Director, BBVA (Spain)
picked senior technology executives from large organizations across multiple industries at a
second Charrette. Uptime Institute invited executive leaders at organizations whose decisions Ted Hight
impacted international markets and brands and provided broad experience making decisions Lead Engineering Consultant
influenced by multiple factors and challenges. Target (U.S.)

This group edited and crystallized the original structure into six top-level criteria, or principal Alexander Martynynuk
factors, that make up the FORCSS framework. Following the second Charrette, Uptime Institute Project Director
identified three key components for each of the six top-level criteria to further define the Rostelecom (Russia)
FORCSS criteria, and presented the expanded system at Uptime Institute Symposium in Santa
Mark Thiele
Clara, CA, in May 2012.
Executive Vice President
At Symposium, Uptime Institute reconvened the previous group of executives who comprised Data Center Technology
the second Charrette, as well as new end-user participants, for a follow-up Charrette on Switch (U.S.)
Mike Wills
Some of the new participants represented companies that had been in business for more Director
than 100 years and plan to be in business another 100 years. Many of these organizations are Facilities Management
at a strategic inflection pointdo they modernize or minimize their IT infrastructures? The BMO (Canada)
participants recognized the FORCSS approach as a means to improve confidence in decision
making, and avoid unintended consequences.

The third Charrette participants were tasked with vetting the expanded 18-point FORCSS
process. The discussions and debate provided substantive insight resulting in changes to the
components making up the six factors.

Uptime Institute FORCSS

The majority of executives at the second Charrette reported consistent and enduring challenges within their organizations:
Incomplete data when evaluating internal assets, such as data center capital costs that arent included in TCO calculations for IT projects, or
lack of insight into personnel costs associated with providing internal IT services.
Lack of insight into cloud computing security, pricing models, and reliability data. Lack of credible cloud computing case studies.
Inconsistency in reporting structures across geographies, divisions, and between internal resources and colocation providers.
Difficulty articulating business value for criteria not tied to a specific cost metric, like redundancy or service quality. Difficulty connecting IT
metrics to business performance metrics.
Challenge of capacity planning for IT requirements forecast beyond six months due to evolving architecture/application strategy and shifting
vendor roadmaps.
Difficulty collecting information across the various stakeholders, from application development, corporate real estate, IT operations, and
lines of business.
Avoiding over-provisioning, as many organizations currently have large underutilized capital investments.


The first step is to identify the new application workload to be analyzed. The process is designed to evaluate a specific
application workload against specific, existing assets or external resources (or in cases where a new site or service may
be considered, detailed evaluation of planned asset).

Identify and engage the decision maker or C-level executive who will sign off on the final project. Provide background on
FORCSS as a selection tool for winnowing deployment choices and eliminating blind spots in an organization.

Identify senior management in adjacent divisions to assess the implementation being considered. No one person will
have sufficient insight into all areas of an organization. Be sure to include application owners and users, facilities/real
estate, IT operations, and any other stakeholders.

Set parameters for your application to determine the functional life cycle of the application or IT service being analyzed
in order to determine the value of the application, appropriate cost profile, and other necessary attributes that ensure the
viability of business solution).

Uptime Institute recognizes the many challenges in conducting a FORCSS analysis:

Getting buy-in and understanding of the FORCSS language across disciplines and at the C-level.
Avoiding inappropriate weighting of Risk or other criteria based on division bias.
Obtaining objective data on third-party service provider pricing and availability.

Also, many companies may be challenged by the subjective nature of some of the inputs, or have difficulty determining the true
costs and benefits of various projects.

The purpose of this timely initiative is to improve a companys investments and decision making, not to compare one companys
decisions against anothers. The way one organization determines the business value of an application or total cost of providing a
service does not need to be the same as how another organization gathers those same data inputs.

A FORCSS analysis may pose tough questions without easy answers, but will help organizations make IT deployment decisions
with confidence.

Uptime Institute FORCSS

About the Authors

Julian Kudritzki
Mr. Kudritzki joined the Uptime Institute in 2004 and currently serves as Chief Operating Officer. He has
supported the founding of offices worldwide and collaborated on the development of the Uptime Institute
Standards, numerous publications, education programs, and unique initiatives such as Server Roundup and

Matt Stansberry
Mr. Stansberry is the Uptime Institute Director of Content and Program Director for Uptime Institute
Symposium. He has researched the convergence of technology, facility management, and energy issues in
data centers since 2003.

The authors wish to thank all of the Charrette participants and those that submitted comments to the working
draft of this document.

The authors are grateful for the contribution of Hank Seader throughout the development of FORCSS.

About the Uptime Institute

Uptime Institute is an unbiased, third-party data center research, education, and consulting organization
focused on improving data center performance and efficiency through collaboration and innovation. The
Uptime Institute serves all shareholders of the data center industry, including enterprise and third-party
operators, manufacturers, providers, and engineers. This collaborative approach, complemented with the
Uptime Institutes capability to recognize trends on a global basis and to interface directly with owners,
results in solutions and innovations freed from regional constraints for the benefit of the worldwide data
center industry.

+1 206.706.4149

2013 Uptime Institute, LLC

20 West 37th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10018
+1 206.706.4149