Data center tiers ranking and uptime: How should you choose the best option

A well-maintained data center has become the primary need of every organization. Whether it’s mission-critical data of your company or customer’s data, handling and storing this enormous amount of data in an accessible and encrypted form is a top priority of every organisation.

Perhaps your organisation is using in-house IT services, how could you tackle frequent power failures and downtime? You will need to invest huge money in infrastructure and redundant power supply along with hiring a highly qualified team of technical staff to ensure maximum uptime. Practically it’s costly, time-consuming and nerve-wracking if you are a small startup or an established setup. This where outsourcing data storage to third-party service providers help entrepreneurs to accomplish their business goals. Choosing a reliable datacenter at the perfect location is an important and crucial decision for company success.

What is tier ranking system?

Tier ranking system is a standard methodology to define the capability of the data center facility to provide maximum uptime. Uptime Institute has created this Tier Classification System to evaluate IT facilities regarding infrastructure, cost and operational complexities. This ranking system consists of four Tier Levels, Tier1, Tier2, Tier3 and Tier 4. Cost and infrastructure complexities will increase with the rise in the tier level.

However, selection should be made according to the needs of an organisation. Company owners should avoid overinvesting on tier 4 facilities when they need a tier 3 data center. This ranking system is based on uptime and infrastructure performance of facility; it doesn’t describe the design and technology elements of service providers.

Who uses this tier ranking system to certify facility providers?

Uptime Institutes have created this standard tier classification system and used this criterion to classify and certify data center facilities against this rating system. Before you hire a third party for company data storage, you should ensure it has been verified to fulfil criteria of respective rank.

How to tier ranking system ranks data centers by uptime?

Uptime of data storage facility is expressed in percentage. It is the total percentage of the time, every year during which a data storage facility is available for customers. Vendors with higher ranking are capable to offer higher uptime for their customers. Below I am sharing standard durations for the uptime along with the maximum downtime; users can expect to experience for each tier.

Tier 1 DCs offer an annual uptime percentage of 99.671% with a maximum downtime of 28.817 hours each year.

Tier 2 DCs have a maximum uptime of 99.741% uptime per year with a total downtime of 22.688 hours.

Tier 3 DCs often assume the best choice with total uptime percentage of 99.982% with a yearly downtime of 1.5768 hours.

Tier 4 DCs delivers highest uptime percentage per year with a maximum downtime of 0.4 hours every year.

Though these percentage values of uptime are calculated carefully, percentages for T3 and T4 DCs are accurate as compare to first two tiers T1 and T2. The primary reason for this accuracy is a high level of consistency of infrastructure and redundancy of cooling and power supplies. In contrast to that expected downtime for T1 and T2 can be increased and the facility could experience more extended processing outages due to lack of redundancy.  

How should businesses select the data center with most suitable tier ranking?

I have already mentioned that business owners first analyse their requirements to avoid overspending money to pick an expensive option when they don’t need. Data centers with Tier 1 and Tier2 ranking can efficiently fulfill the requirements of small company owners who don’t need 24/7 access to their data and can sustain several hours downtime on the weekend for maintenance purposes. If this is not affecting their clients and business reputation, paying an expensive cost for Tier 3 or Tier 4 facility is not worthy choice.

In contrast to that, if you are running a large multi-national organisation, your company will need round the clock connectivity to stay in touch with a vast customer base and maintain the functioning of critical software applications. In this scenario, T3 and T4 will be the ultimate choice for your business.

Endnote: Regardless of the tier ranking of data center facilities, you should not forget to check the reputation of vendors claiming for Tier 3 data center or Tier 1 & 2 to pick a reliable data hosting vendor.  

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