Data Center Tier Certification – What You Need to Know

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When researching cloud service providers (CSPs), it’s essential to know not only where your business-critical data and applications will be stored, but also the general makeup of the CSPs’ data centers. Which is why we compiled a detailed list of data center resources in our blog, Data Center 101 – What to Look for in a Colocation Provider. Since we are frequently asked about Data Center Tier Certification and what level(s) HOSTING data centers comply, we thought the following information would be useful. Read on to learn about data center tier certification and how HOSTING data centers rank according to the Uptime Institute Tier Rating Scale.

Uptime Institute Tier Rating Scale for Data Centers

The Uptime Institute, a think tank and professional-services organization based in Santa Fe, NM, has its own tiered ranking system for data centers. The levels describe the availability of data from the hardware at a location. The higher the tier, the greater the availability.

Tier 1 Requirements

  • Single non-redundant distribution path serving the IT equipment
  • Non-redundant capacity components
  • Basic site infrastructure with expected availability of 99.671%

Tier 2 Requirements

  • Meets or exceeds all Tier 1 requirements
  • Redundant site infrastructure capacity components with expected availability of 99.741%

Tier 3 Requirements

  • Meets or exceeds all Tier 2 requirements
  • Multiple independent distribution paths serving the IT equipment
  • All IT equipment must be dual-powered and fully compatible with the topology of a site’s architecture
  • Concurrently maintainable site infrastructure with expected availability of 99.982%

Tier 4 Requirements

  • Meets or exceeds all Tier 3 requirements
  • All cooling equipment is independently dual-powered, including chillers and heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Fault-tolerant site infrastructure with electrical power storage and distribution facilities with expected availability of 99.995%

The Downtime Difference

Uptime is a critical factor when considering data centers. Uptime differences between 99.671%, 99.741%, 99.982%, and 99.995%, while seemingly nominal, could be significant depending on the application. And while no down-time is ideal, the tier system allows for unavailability of services as listed below over a period of one year (525,600 minutes):

  • Tier 1 (99.671%) status would allow 1729.224 minutes or 28.817 hours
  • Tier 2 (99.741%) status would allow 1361.304 minutes or 22.688 hours
  • Tier 3 (99.982%) status would allow 94.608 minutes
  • Tier 4 (99.995%) status would allow 26.28 minutes

HOSTING facilities have between 99.999 and 100% facility uptime, backed by industry-leading Service Level Agreements (SLAs). For those organizations whose applications require stringent accessibility and uptime, HOSTING offers Critical Availability Service™ (CAS). CAS provides certified reference architectures and advanced testing protocols to guarantee a highly available application. HOSTING backs this offer with a critical SLA that guarantees unprecedented uptimes and reimbursements.

HOSTING Data Centers

HOSTING owns and operates six world-class data centers strategically located across the United States. All HOSTING facilities operates critical infrastructure with Tier 3 elements where it matters most to the customer, specifically:

  • HOSTING UPS architecture is Tier 3 compliant
  • HOSTING UPS power distribution architecture is Tier 3 compliant
  • HOSTING cooling architecture is Tier 3 compliant

However HOSTING data centers are technically classified as Tier 2 data center by the Uptime Institute. Why? Glad you asked!

The Uptime Institute will only grant a tier ranking as high as your lowest attribute allows for. In the case of HOSTING data centers:

  • The HOSTING data centers located in Denver CO, Newark DE, and Irvine CA, are in multi-tenant buildings. Since the Uptime Institute requires a single tenant building for Tier 3 certification, our data centers in those locations default to a Tier 2 certification.
  • HOSTING data centers located in Louisville KY, San Francisco CA and Dallas TX, have single-threaded generator plants. According to Rada Flom, HOSTING Senior Director of Data Center Operations, a single-threaded generator plant is often more reliable than a multi-threaded one. However, the Uptime Institute only classifies multi-threaded generator plants as Tier 3.
  • All HOSTING data centers are fed by single source utility feeds, defaulting us to Tier 2 by the Uptime Institute’s standards.

“There are very few constructed facilities that are actually Tier 3 certified and the industry is moving away from the concept entirely,” Flom notes. The current direction favors Tier 2 facilities with a focus on software resilience rather than (the very expensive) hardened Tier 3 style infrastructure.”

Interested in learning more about HOSTING data centers and how they match up to industry standards? HOSTING data center experts stand ready to answer your questions. You can also tour one of our data centers in Denver, Newark, Louisville, Dallas, Irvine or San Francisco.

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