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Different data center tiers and how to choose the right one for your business

Different businesses come with different data sensitivity and allow varying levels of flexibility that they can allow when it comes to data. To make the task of choosing the right data centre that caters to your specific needs, universal data centre standards have been set in place that let businesses evaluate and decide. 

Classifications by the Uptime Institute 

These classifications are done worldwide by the Uptime Institute and have been in place since the mid-1990s. According to these standards, the data centres are divided into separate tiers. The tier a particular data centre falls into is decided by a plethora of different factors, from the technology being used, the data capacity, the number of people involved and the list goes on! 

The twin factors

The two main factors which decide the tier of a data centre are the ability of the data centre to keep running even during maintenance. The other one is its ability to function in times of failure (or redundancy); this failure can be a cooling or power system failure. 

Following are the different data centre tiers and what they mean.

Tier 1 data centers 

These are the most basic types of data center. A tier 1 data center must have an uninterrupted power supply (UPS), dedicated equipment for cooling, and a backup generator. Tier 1 data centers must have at least 99.7% uptime in a year to qualify for tier 1. These types of data centers need to be shut down periodically, during maintenance and upkeep. 

Tier 2 data centers

These are the most common type of data centers in the world. These differ from tier 1 data centers because they offer greater redundancy. Apart from the equipment found in tier 1 data centers, tier 2 data centers also have additional cooling systems like cooling towers and condensers, components that can be removed without having to shut down the entire system and much lower downtime.

This can be attributed to the fact that the modular components of tier 2 data centers allow only a small portion of the data center to be shut down instead of having to close the whole facility during maintenance.

Tier 3 data centers

These are the highest level of data centers that most businesses will ever require. Tier 3 data centers have even higher cooling capacity and backup power than tier 2. Some tier 3 data centers have an uptime of 100% which means that they do not require to be shut down for maintenance at all and can keep functioning even through long power outages. 

Tier 4 data centers

A tier 4 data center exceeds tier 3 in functionality and uptime. This is the highest level of certification offered by the Uptime Institute. India is home to some of the world’s largest tier 4 data centers, which offer an uptime of 2N+1 along with all the functionalities of the previous tiers.

Multi-tier data centers

Multi-tier data centers use a smart approach to data storage and management. Since the critical data for most businesses makes up only around 10-15% of the total data requirements, these data centers employ tier 3 or tier 4 capabilities to that part of the data while the rest of it can be managed by lesser tier capabilities. 

Choosing the right type of data center

When you see that a data center has a tier classification, you can rest assured that they have undergone rigorous testing to meet the stringent standards of the Uptime Institute. Depending on the bulk of data and how much downtime your business can endure, you can choose different tiered data centers. If only a small portion of your data is critical, it is advisable to go for a multi-tiered data center as it can bring down costs significantly. 

Now that you know a little more about data centres, we hope that you make a more informed choice about what kind of data center you want to invest in! Hardy Racks supports data centers of different tiers from planning to implementation with our world-class server racks and data center accessories.


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