Data centers are the heart of digitization. In Germany alone, computing power is increasing from year to year. According to a study by the industry association Bitkom e.V., the capacities of the data centers in Germany have increased continuously in recent years. Measured against the maximum current consumption of the installed hardware, the recording capabilities increased by around 30 percent between 2016 and 2021. There are currently a little more than 3,000 data centers with more than 40 kW IT connection power in Germany. A total of around 50,000 smaller IT installations and data centers are included. The growth is primarily due to the increasing expansion of cloud computing offerings. While capacities in cloud data centers increased by 150 percent between 2016 and 2021, traditional data centers stagnated at a constant level. In addition to the increase in computing power, operators also have to deal with political requirements. The forthcoming Energy Efficiency Act presents them with ambitious tasks in terms of sustainability. With efficient testing procedures, for example from High Knowledge GmbH in Cologne, weak points and potential for improvement can be identified at an early stage.

The data center market is constantly growing. The requirements for digitization - be it in the private, commercial or municipal sector - are increasing every year. "The zettabyte era poses very special challenges for data centers and the IT infrastructure," emphasizes High Knowledge Managing Director Harry Knopf. "That's why it's important to keep up with the rapid growth in data consumption, data creation and reproduction." The shift from the industrial age to a data-driven age is accompanied by rapid digital transformation in all industries around the world. That is why there is also talk of a so-called “fourth industrial revolution”. More and more data is processed every year. In 2012, the global datasphere was about 1 zettabyte, and by 2025 it will grow to 175 zettabytes. That is why one also speaks of the so-called “zettabyte era”.

But not only the constantly growing increase in data consumption creates challenges - this also applies to compliance with climate targets such as the 1.5 degree target. Here, the global increase in temperature due to the greenhouse effect is to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, data centers in Germany and the entire EU must be operated in a climate-neutral manner by 2030 at the latest. In addition, the forthcoming energy efficiency law in Germany will lead to ambitious specifications that many data center operators cannot implement at all or with difficulty at the present time.

Diverse changes, Diverse Requirements

Die Veränderungen im IT- und Rechenzentrumsumfeld sind dementsprechend vielfältig und sehr dynamisch. Damit Betreiber von Rechenzentren hierbei nicht den Überblick verlieren, bietet das Kölner Beratungsunternehmen High Knowledge verschiedene Überprüfungsverfahren an. „Mit unseren DC Checks identifizieren wir schnell und einfach Optimierungsmöglichkeiten, erkennen Nonkonformität mit geltenden Standards und Vorgaben sowie ob und wo Handlungsbedarf besteht“, schildert Martin Vogt. Der technische Leiter führt weiter aus: „Zudem lassen sich mit unseren unterschiedlichen Überprüfungsverfahren Sicherheitslücken aufdecken. Außerdem finden wir ganz genau heraus, wo und wie der Energieverbrauch gesenkt und Emissionen eingespart werden können.“

Different Verification Options

So that every environment in a data center can be adequately analyzed, there are six different verification options. In the so-called "DC Infra Check", an extensive questionnaire with the appropriate evaluation criteria is used to determine whether the data center meets the current norms, standards and security requirements. "The operator knows immediately whether there is a need for action and where he currently stands with his system or the IT infrastructure," says Vogt. "The check reveals all weak points."

Based on the answers, the employees at High Knowledge carry out extensive analyzes and take into account more than 250 self-developed evaluation criteria of the data center infrastructure being examined. “This check, which is free of charge, provides an initial assessment and shows the potential of the data center. In addition, we provide initial recommendations for action when weaknesses are discovered. The more questions are answered, the more detailed the assessment is,” says Managing Director Knopf. Finally, the results are presented in an understandable visual representation.

Artificial Intelligence in Action

The "DC IT Check" is also cost-neutral. Here, the IT environment in a data center is optimized using artificial intelligence (AI). "This check is unique in its form worldwide and we make this service available exclusively," states Knopf. Based on fewer but more targeted queries, this check helps noticeably to lower energy costs, reduce emissions and optimize the area used - the white space. The AI-based software solution used here ensures a holistic evaluation of the server, storage and network components. "The analysis provides a well-founded insight into optimizations with regard to the total cost of ownership (TCO) as well as in the area of operation and maintenance or the space utilization concept," summarizes technical manager Vogt. The check leads to the report generated by the AI solution, which shows the IT components in terms of workload efficiency, energy requirements and actual performance, evaluates them and shows concrete recommendations for action.

Closely Examine Individual Components

The “DC EMC Check” goes into depth. Here, the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of the IT or the entire data center is expertly examined. “We pay particular attention to the error-free, EMC-compliant construction of all systems. This includes examining the immunity of IT components or the entire system to external and internal influences,” reports Vogt. If all measures to reduce disruptions are implemented, a data center and the IT systems can work without failure. All too often, faulty electrical installations cause malfunctions or failures. If the operation does not run smoothly, this can have economic consequences for the operator. “We carefully analyze the electrical installation. The implementation of the central grounding point (CEP) according to VDE 0100-444 is required. However, this is implemented correctly in very few systems,” says Vogt from his many years of experience. "Particularly in data centers with complex, redundant electrical systems, equalizing currents via the grounding system can disturb the highly sensitive IT systems." With the review, this can be virtually ruled out in the future. 

This also applies to the effective review of the energy network. The “DC PQ Check” takes care of that. So-called power quality measurements can be used to detect and avoid faults in the energy network at an early stage. Different, high-quality network analyzers and additional measurement and analysis technology are used for this. At the end, the operator receives a meaningful measurement and test report in accordance with DIN EN-50160 and DIN EN 61000-2-x.

Protection Against Unauthorized Access

There are always failures in data centers. Cyber attacks are often cited as reasons for this. The "DC PEN Check" is worthwhile so that operators know whether their systems have security leaks or targets for attack. Vulnerabilities are identified here. In addition, the security controls implemented and the configuration of the components used in the data center are analyzed and evaluated. A penetration test checks the security of as many system components and applications as possible in a network or software system. For this purpose, exactly the means and methods are simulated that make it possible to penetrate the system without authorization. The checks used include, for example, the firewall check and the VPN check.

Sustainably Tested

Climate neutrality and sustainability - these are also the key issues for the operation of a data center. For some time now, data centers have also been able to have their energy-efficient operation certified and documented with the state environmental label and quality seal “Blue Angel”. The "DC BE Check" analyzes all the criteria that are necessary for the "Blue Angel" award. "The operators receive a realistic assessment of the sustainability and future security of their system," emphasizes Knopf. "You then know exactly which requirements have already been met and where something still needs to be done." High Knowledge is an approved auditor for the "Blue Angel". As part of the review, an initial potency analysis of the system is carried out. Incidentally, this measure is funded under certain conditions by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection. In addition to the check, operators are also accompanied through the entire process - from the application for funding to certification.


The regular checks of technical systems ensure smooth and trouble-free operation. Just as you present your motor vehicle to the TÜV at regular intervals, continuous checks offer noticeable advantages for data center operators. In addition to free incoming checks, High Knowledge also offers checks that can specifically avoid failures in EMC, for example.