Understanding The Four Data Center Tiers

If your work involves data center management or design, you need to understand the four different data center tiers. Understanding these tiers and which data center characteristics and tasks they entail is a key to understanding recent literature on the theory behind how a modern data center works.

The importance of data center tiers

The most widely accepted classification of the four data center tiers was drawn out by a think tank headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The system attempts to offer a consistent system by which companies can compare unique facilities in terms of the infrastructure performance that they expect of their own data centers. 

The following is an explanation of each of the four tiers:

Tier Level 1

This is the most basic type of data center. Described as "non-redundant", this data center's functionality is limited to meeting the IT needs of solely the owner or operator. 

In order to qualify as a tier level 1 data center, a data center needs a dedicated space for IT functions, a power supply that is uninterrupted, its own cooling hardware, and an engine generator. A tier level 1 data center is typically adequate for facilities like real estate agencies or lawyer offices that have fairly basic IT needs around the office and only need to be in operation during business hours. 

Tier Level 2

This type of data center is described as "basic redundant" because it will include both a redundant critical power supply and redundant cooling equipment. These redundancies help protect against potential infrastructure equipment malfunctions and help to ensure that the data center will be constantly up and running except during pre-scheduled maintenance periods.

Tier level 2 data centers are often the best option for educational institutions, for example, because this type of organization needs to offer greater accessibility than an organization opting for a tier level 1 data center. However, organizations opting for tier level 2 data centers must enjoy freedom from severe institutional disruptions in the event of data center failure. 

Tier Level 3

A tier level 3 data center is described as "concurrently maintainable". This means that the data center won't need to be completely shut down if equipment must be replaced or maintained. In addition to featuring the redundant power supply and cooling equipment of a tier level 2 data center, a tier level 3 data center will also offer internal and external clients that are available around the clock.

Tier Level 4

This is the most advanced form of data center, and it is considered "fault tolerant". This type of data center is for an organization that cannot allow its data center to shut down, even in the case of a catastrophic event. 

This type of data center is necessary for organizations engaged in ongoing, around-the-clock business. It is also preferred for organizations operating internationally. 

To learn more, contact a data center like Cologix