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Data Center Tier Classifications

The data center you select to house your organization’s colocation needs is as important as the tech solutions that power your operations—data centers are the gears that keep your operation in motion. While some may think that all data centers are the same, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Data Center Tiers

Data center solutions are broken up into “Tiers,” which evaluate the quality, reliability, and availability of your data server’s hosting capabilities. There can be a vast difference in the kind of service you receive from one tier to the next.

Data center tiers help differentiate the power and requirements of each data center, narrowing in on things like:

  • Redundant Components
  • Critical load distribution paths
  • Cooling
  • Power Outage Protections

There are four data center tiers, each with a precise specific set of requirements: 

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Tier I Data Centers

Tier I Data Centers are the least sophisticated. Some like to think of them as little more than a server warehouse with power, though some may also have features like backup cooling and a generator. To meet the criteria of a Tier I Data Center, a data center must:

Have no more than 28.8 hours of downtime per year.
Have an uptime rate of 99.671% per annum.

Tier 1 Data Centers are not required to have any kind of redundancy. They are often chosen by small businesses looking for cost-effective solutions.

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Tier II Data Centers

Tier II Data Centers are often marketed to small to medium business (SMB) organizations and offer slightly more features than a Tier I Data Center. To meet the criteria to be called a Tier II Data Center, a data center must meet the following criteria:

No more than 22 hours of downtime per year.
99.741% uptime per annum.
Tier II Data Centers must also offer at least partial cooling and multiple power redundancies.

Notably, there is a significant increase in features and functionalities, jumping from a Tier II Data Center to a Tier III Data Center—but also a very significant increase in expense. A Tier II Data Center is appropriate for many organizations unless they are performing incredibly critical operations. 

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Tier III Data Centers

Tier III Data Centers offer more resiliency and more redundancy protection compared to Tier I or Tier II Data Centers, but also significantly higher costs. To qualify as a Tier III Data Center, a data center must meet the following qualifications:

No more than 1.6 hours of downtime per year, for maintenance and significant emergency issues. 
72 hours of protection from power outages; protection that does not connect to any kind of outside source.
99.982% uptime per annum.
N+1 fault tolerance, that a provider can undergo routine maintenance without any kind of break-in operations. 

With N+1 fault tolerance, unplanned maintenance or other emergencies may affect the system and even some customer-facing operations. Companies that use Tier III Data Centers are usually larger than the average SMB and have exceptionally rare, critical operations.

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Tier IV Data Centers

Tier IV Data Centers have the highest level of redundancy protection and can come with a hefty price tag. To qualify, they must achieve the following criteria:

Zero points of failure across all processes and data protection streams. There can be no outages or errors that shut down the system. 
No more than 26.3 minutes of downtime per annum. Additionally, none of this downtime can impact customer-facing operations.  
96 hours of power outage protection not connected to an outside source.
99.995% uptime per annum. 
A 2N+1 infrastructure that is fully redundant.

Tier IV Data Centers are most ideal for very large, enterprise-level organizations that may also have international reach and consistent, high levels of web traffic. It’s important to note that Tier IV Data Centers offer the highest level of protection and also have nearly twice the site infrastructure of Tier III Data Centers. 

Agility CoLo: Your Reliable Solution

Agility CoLo understands the importance of having a high-performance environment for your critical IT infrastructure. Power outages and other failures can set your organization back and damage your reputation and the trust your clients and customers have in your brand. 

At Agility CoLo, we are proud to offer our clients exceptional reliability and redundancy as a Data Center provider. Agility CoLo is the region’s premier Data Center, with a full suite of solutions and services to fit your performance needs as well as your budget.

Our facility has been carefully engineered to suit our exact purpose, and as such, it meets or exceeds industry standards across the board. Are you unsure about which solution is right for you? Schedule a tour of our facility to discover what’s best for you!

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Which Tier Is Right for You?

Data center standards exist to help users understand the caliber, quality, and reliability of a data center’s server hosting abilities. It lets you know how capable they are. But this doesn’t mean that all organizations require the power and redundancy of a Tier III or Tier IV Data Center. 

Choose a Tier I Data Center If: 

You have a small business or new startup.
You are prioritizing a low-cost, efficient solution.
Your organization’s infrastructure has a single uplink, one path for power, and non-redundant servers.
You do not require redundancy guarantees for your operations.
You can work with 99.671% uptime per annum as graded by the Uptime Institute.
You do not require features like a backup generator or cooling system.
Your website has low traffic.

Choose a Tier II Data Center If: 

You are a small or mid-sized organization business or organization.
You need guaranteed efficiency that a Tier I Data Center can't offer. 
You handle multiple clients.
Your organization prioritizes redundant capacity components.
You want to effectively balance price with performance. 
You are seeking a high-performing data storage solution that doesn't drain your entire budget
Your organization's web traffic coincides with that of other small or mid-sized businesses.

Choose a Tier III Data Center If: 

You are a rapidly-growing organization that requires many of the features of a Tier IV Data Center but can’t afford the higher price.
You require your network streams to have full backups.
You do not operate on an international level. 
You plan to expand to a Tier IV Data Center down the road, but you don’t need to do so at this time. 
You require an efficient, fully-fault tolerant data center for rare, crucial operations.
You have a large budget for your Data Center solutions. 

Choose a Tier I Data Center If: 

You need to host mission-critical, fully-fault tolerant servers.
You need to ensure the safety of your data even if there are mechanical failures.
You require full fault tolerance and operate internationally.
You need backups and dual power to be treated with the same level of care as your primary server so there’s never any downtime.
You have the budget to accommodate the physical infrastructure of a Tier IV Data Center
You have an exceedingly large budget for your Data Center Solutions.

Schedule a Tour of Our Facility

Choosing a data center requires more than just trust. And ultimately, you can look at charts and checklists all day, but choosing a Data Center is a personal decision that’s unique to your processes. You can’t replace the peace of mind you’ll get by evaluating a Data Center in person. See our operations firsthand and discover how we keep your operations up and running with state-of-the-art redundancy planning and solutions to prevent outages and downtime. 

We’ll keep you going. 


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