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How Does the Data Center Tier System Work?

Data center marketing language can be filled with buzz words like “top tier” and “tier iv data center.” But what does data center tier classification and tier certification actually mean and how does it impact your business and associated infrastructure investments? In this article, we’ll outline what each data center tier level means so you can make an informed decision on how to approach the tier classification system. 

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See Also: An Overview of ServerMania Data Centers

What Are Data Center Tiers?

The Uptime Institute developed a standard by which each data center is graded. Data center tier ratings are based on the redundant systems and all the components that are in place within the data center infrastructure. Each data center can then be placed in one of four data center tier levels:

  1. Tier i data center
  2. Tier ii data center
  3. Tier iii data center
  4. Tier iv data center

A Tier i data center features the least amount of redundancy and operates with basic capacity, whereas a Tier iv data center has comprehensive redundancy and twice the operational capacity of a Tier i data center.

A Tier iv data center offers redundant components like uninterrupted power supply, cooling systems, and UPS systems built for fault tolerance and operational sustainability. Redundant and backup components prevent system failure to ensure critical components are always running and will meet all of your business demands.

 

Key Terms

The following key terms are helpful in understanding the breakdown of the data center tiering system:

Capacity Component: Includes items such as uninterruptible power supply, cooling systems and auxiliary generators. 

Distribution Path: The connection path that a capacity component follows in order to service a server. For example, a power line which feeds from the utility service to a server rack. 

Data Center Tier Summary

Here is a summary of each of the data center tiers. Below we will explore each tier in more detail and what the components mean:

Tier i

Data centers in the Tier i category feature the lowest amount of redundancy and are susceptible to downtime during planned 

Uptime: 99.671%

Power: A single, non-redundant power connection to service the facility.

Cooling: Dedicated Cooling Equipment

Fuel Storage: 12 Hours

A Tier i data center must also have a UPS to filter power spikes, sags, and momentary outages. There must be sufficient power capacity to meet the needs of the data center, 

A Tier i data center is likely to offer the lowest cost server hosting due to the lack of redundant hardware to setup and maintain. As such, it is a good option for data that doesn’t need to be 100% accessible such as cold storage for backups.

Tier ii

The Tier ii data center category features redundant capacity components with a single distribution path servicing the data center.

Uptime: 99.741%

Power:  Redundant power such as an engine generator or fuel cells

Cooling: Redundant Chillers / heat Distribution Equipment and Dedicated Cooling

Fuel: 12 Hours of On-Site Storage for N Capacity

UPS: Redundant UPS Modules

Individual components can be taken offline for maintenance in a Tier ii data center without any downtime, but servers may go offline if the distribution path needs to be taken offline for any reason. 

A scheduled yearly downtime would be common in a Tier ii data center as every component should be shutdown for routine maintenance. Without redundant components, this will often result in server downtime being required.

Tier iii

Data centers in the Tier iii category feature both redundant capacity components (power and cooling, etc.) as well as independent and redundant distribution paths.

Uptime: 99.982%

Power:  Redundant power such as an engine generator or fuel cells. Multiple distribution paths to servers that are independent. 

Cooling: Redundant Chillers / heat Distribution Equipment and Dedicated Cooling

UPS: Redundant UPS Modules

Fuel: 12 Hours of On-Site Storage for N Capacity

All servers in a Tier iii data centers are redundantly powered to the two distribution paths in order to ensure that servers remain online in the event of one distribution path going offline.

Tier iv

Data centers in the Tier iv category feature the highest level of redundancy across all levels. These data centers are considered fault tolerant and feature multiple independent, compartmentalized and physically isolated systems to provide redundant capacity components and multiple paths which feed the servers. 

Uptime: 99.995%

Power:  Redundant power such as an engine generator or fuel cells. Multiple distribution paths to servers that are independent.

Cooling: Redundant Chillers / heat Distribution Equipment and Dedicated Cooling

UPS: Redundant UPS Modules

Fuel: 12 Hours of On-Site Storage for N Capacity

Choosing A Data Center

The data center tier classification system begs the question, “why aren’t all data centers in the highest tier, and why wouldn’t I choose the most redundant option?” This is a fair question, but the reality is that higher tier data centers are not always available in each region and they do come with an increased cost for data center operations, thus resulting in a higher cost for small businesses.

Maintaining and deploying all of the redundant components in a top tier data center is very costly, and as such, hosting servers in a higher tiered data center can be more expensive. You also need to choose a data center in the right geographic region for your project. 

ServerMania partners with the two highest tiered data centers in order to ensure maximum uptime and customer satisfaction. We also offer a 100% network uptime SLA in each data center so that you can host mission critical business applications without worry.

ServerMania has 8 data centers to choose from across the globe:

Book a free consultation today and find out how a ServerMania data center can empower your business.

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