Data Center Tier Standards: Which is Right for Your Business?

Choosing the right data center for your business can be difficult, especially when there are so many options available. The Uptime Institute, an independent provider of thought leadership, certification, education and professional services for the global data center and emerging Digital Infrastructure industry, has established a system that is designed to rank data centers according to their reliability.

The ranking order is defined by tiers, with Tier 4 being the highest achievable level. The criteria which is utilized to establish the ranks for the data center facilities is several and include elements such as; annual availability of systems, the amount of downtime the facility experiences in a year, power and cooling paths, levels of systems redundancy, and the time the data center can continue to operate in terms of hours if it were to loose utility power.

It’s important to note that not all industry experts agree with this grading formula, but as of right now – this ranking methodology is considered the norm in the data center marketplace.

Below is a break down for each tier:

 Tier 4

  • 99.995% availability
  • Annual downtime of point zero four hours
  • Two independent utility paths from the street
  • Fully redundant (2N+1) infrastructure
  • Able to sustain 96 hours of utility power outage

Tier 3

  • 99.98% availability
  • Annual downtime of one point six hours
  • Multiple power and cooling paths
  • Fault tolerant (N+1)
  • Able to sustain 72 hours of utility power outage

Tier 2

  • 99.749% availability
  • Annual downtime of twenty two hours
  • Single path of power and cooling

Tier 1

  • 99.671% availability
  • Annual downtime of twenty eight point eight hours
  • Single path of power and cooling
  • No redundant components

Which Tier Level is best for My Business?

Most of the mid-size data center facilities in North America are classified as a Tier 3 based on this ranking system. For a majority of enterprises seeking data center space, a Tier 3 environment provides a good balance between infrastructure reliability and the costs associated in utilizing these types of facilities.

Tier 1 and Tier 2 facilities really do not meet the needs of most businesses today. These environments are economical solutions, but typically utilize very little redundancy and support systems to ensure that the environment operates problem free.

On the high side, Tier 4 data centers are the elite facilities and deliver the highest levels of systems and infrastructure to minimize downtime for their clients. These facilities are typically homes for very large organizations, including large financial institutions, as these environments tend to come with a very high price point.

Need help understanding which tier is right for your business? Click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

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