i-STT and Digital Centrix became the first two Internet Data Centers (IDC) in Asia to be recognized by Sun Microsystems for quality of service when they were "SunTone-certified".
The Sun Microsystems-sponsored branding program was launched in May 1999 to recognize that providers of Internet-based application hosting and outsourcing services meet a level of excellence in infrastructure, operation practice, performance, security, availability and reliability.
The certification was awarded by Sun Microsystems together with Singapore-based ASP Center, the only auditor appointed by Sun for Asia South region.
i-STT is the info-communications flagship of Singapore Technologies Telemedia while Digital Centrix is owned by the National Computer Systems--both are based in Singapore.
According to Charles Ling, service provider architect at Sun Microsystems and principle consultant to the ASP Center, IDCs first join SunTone as members while learning the processes and requirements for eventual certification.
It costs US$15,000 for the entire auditing process. Consultants' fees, should they be required to help prepare for certification, are charged separately to this.
As of August 2001, there are some 1,400 members worldwide with about 90 having gained certification. Of these, 55 are IDCs and only i-STT and Digital Centrix are based in Asia.
Ling says some 10 other IDCs in Singapore, Malaysia and India have already registered as members and are currently undergoing the certification process.
When asked about the possibility of adding best of breed practices for Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) products following the global partnership agreement announced last week, Wong Heng Chew, Sun Microsystems managing director, said that the SunTone certification was not static and as such, Sun was looking at ways to incorporate it into the program.
Ling noted that a new SunTone certification program for storage services was introduced in May and they were looking at fitting HDS into this area.
The certification does require a minimum level of Sun infrastructure to be installed: Ling said that Sun felt that for the bare minimum, it was necessary for mission critical systems to be from Sun.
Other vendors that have similar certification programs include IBM's Hosting Advantage and Dell with its Data Center Direct Certification.
According to Tan Poh Kah, online IT director at Dell Singapore, the company offers this certification only in the US and currently has no plans to bring it to the Asia Pacific region. He was unable to provide any pricing for the certification.
Although an IBM spokesperson was unable to provide exact fees structure, she did say that the charges involved would be for the time taken to complete an audit, usually an average of two days. IBM does not require any minimum level of its infrastructure to be present.