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The Datacenter – Part 2: What’s a Tier?

In last week’s piece, we discussed how datacenters are the backbone of cloud computing. This week, we’ll discuss the different types of datacenters available to help you determine what’s best for you. Your company data is invaluable, and It’s important to know how cost-efficient and safe it is!

Datacenters are ranked in tiers by The Uptime Institute, a group that provides an unbiased ranking of the locations companies use to store data. Since the 1990s, The Uptime Institute has been the ultimate judge of every serious datacenter in the world. Verizon, Chase, Fidelity…the list of companies with datacenters ranked by the institute is seemingly endless. The Institute uses a 1-4 tier system to “consistently evaluate various data center facilities in terms of potential site infrastructure performance, or uptime.” Uptime—the amount of time that your data is available—is everything. Sure, machines go down occasionally, but all datacenters should strive for perfection. Now, let’s break down the tiers.

The Uptime Institute lets you know just how safe your datacenter is. (Source: Uptime Institute)

Tier I: Basic Capacity. Tier 1 datacenters are only a bit better than the average office IT closet or server room. They have a dedicated location for networking equipment and a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) to prevent power spikes and temporary outages. They also have cooling equipment that runs 24/7 and a backup generator that can run during extended power outages.

Tier 2: Redundant Capacity Components. Tier 2 datacenters include all of Tier 1 requirements plus redundant power and cooling components.

Tier 3: Concurrently Maintainable. This is where datacenters start getting serious. Tier 3 datacenters require no shutdown for maintenance or hardware replacement. Every single piece of a Tier 3 network is redundant so maintenance can be done at any time, without downtime. Tier 3 is also where you get a dedicated facility. Your servers aren’t where you are!

Tier 4: Fault Tolerant. Tier 4 datacenters offer everything a Tier 3 does plus fault tolerance and armed guards. Fault tolerance means that if any problems occur in or around the warehouse, the IT operations aren’t affected. If an earthquake happens at the datacenter, you still don’t lose access to your data. Also, a trained team of armed guards works 24/7/365 to protect every Tier 4 datacenter.

What’s Right for Me?

Tier 4 Certification from The Uptime Institute is a long, rigorous, and expensive process. Of course, those costs are passed down to the customer. But, you get what you pay for. If you value your data, store it at a Tier 4 datacenter. Many IT providers will try to get by with a Tier 3, touting the 99.982% uptime requirements, which is equal to 95 minutes of downtime per year. But, if your data is truly invaluable, a Tier 4 datacenter provides maximum dependability and security— 26 minutes maximum downtime per year, 96 hours of power outage protection, and a fully redundant infrastructure. Make sure you know your data facility’s tier rating, and give Network Alliance a call if you want to see first-hand the dependability and security of a Tier 4 datacenter. We’re happy to give you a tour!

Now that you understand the datacenter tiers, and what they have to offer, our next piece will focus on  why a Tier 4 datacenter should be your choice.




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