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Data center tiers: Behind the numbers

Published on 02 January 19
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When you hear about TIERS in data center industry what comes to your mind? Type, level, uptime, downtime or infrastructure? Yes, Tiers in data center industry refers to the operations of data center developed by the uptime institute. This tier of classification is necessary while choosing data centers as it provides methods to compare and find the uniqueness and customized facilities based on uptime or site infrastructure.

There are four accepted data center tiers rankings from the uptime institute.

Tiers are TIER 1, TIER 2, TIER 3 and TIER 4 each tier shows uptime and availability.

Tier one has basic capacity in which there is a 99.67% of uptime and downtime of 28.8 hours downtime annually. In Tier one data center dedicated site infrastructure is provided to support IT beyond an office setting. It also includes dedicated space for IT systems in which there are engine generators are available to protect IT functions, a UPS to filter power spikes, sags, and momentary outages and dedicated cooling equipment. Tier 2 data centers have redundant capacity components with an uptime of 99.75%, and downtime of 22 hours annually.

Tier 2 includes all tier 1 capabilities but also add redundant critical power and cooling component. Tier 2 redundant components include UPS modules, chillers or pumps and engine generators.

Tier 3 data centers are concurrently maintainable with an uptime of 99.98% and annual downtime of 1.6 hours. Tier 3 data center includes capabilities of tier 1 and 2 data centers. There are no shutdowns while replacement and maintenance of equipment. Tier 3 data centers are not faulted tolerant as they share different components as external cooling and utility company feeds. It contains redundant cooling systems where if one cooling unit shutdowns the other one kicks and continue the cooling systems. The tier 4 Datacenter have all the capabilities of one, two and three tier data centers. The Tier four data centers are fault tolerant. Power and cooling components are 2N fully redundant which refers to IT components are doubled where there are two different cooling systems, two generators, two UPS systems. Tier 4 Datacenter has 99.995% of uptime and downtime of only 0.4 hours.

However, it is important to know the business needs for these tiers before choosing a data center. Tier 1 and 2 can work well for small-scale companies which don’t need 24x7 availability as they can survive for days for maintenance. In this type cases, you don’t need to opt for 3 and 4 tiers data centers. In multinational companies where business is round the clock and several critical application running can which can’t afford downtime should opt for data center which is 3 or 4 tier compliant.

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