There’s a lot to consider when you think about your company’s future, but there’s no underestimating the role technology will play. Specifically, you’ll need to be connected to the World Wide Web at all times. While your server or servers should take care of that for you, it’s important you understand how this all works. More specifically, you’ll want to know about uptime, the Uptime Institute and their tiered system for assessing data centers.
What Is Uptime?
Uptime is a measurement represented by the percentage of time that hardware, a device or an IT system is considered in operation. The opposite of this, downtime, is a metric for when a system is not working or non-operational.
For the sake of this piece, though, we’re only talking about servers. Uptime refers to how often – by percentage – a server is up and running, keeping its websites live on the Internet.
Why Is Uptime Important?
The answer to this question is no doubt fairly obvious. If your website is down, visitors can’t become customers. You also don’t want to be paying to rent server space if you’ll be wasting that money on prolonged downtimes. However, if you decide to manage your own servers, this is a metric you absolutely must keep an eye on regularly for the reasons we just mentioned.
The Uptime Institute
There are a number of ways to measure uptime, but you first need to begin by agreeing on an objective metric. Since 1993, the Uptime Institute has been invaluable for this. This unbiased organization works in an advisory capacity and mainly concerns itself with finding out how to improve the efficiency, performance and reliability of the infrastructures most important to business in the digital age.
The institute has offices in the United States (they’re headquartered in the United States near Boston), the United Kingdom, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rico, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia.
Though we’ll cover its famous tiered system for uptime in a moment, the Uptime Institute also has a reputation for the thought leadership they bring to such a dynamic industry. The organization, along with 451 Research, is part of The 451 Group. Aside from their opinions on important matters affecting the industry, they also provide professional serves and syndicated research. Through 451 Events, the group runs technology summits and conferences all over the globe.
Of all the things it does, though, it should come as no surprise that the Uptime Institute is known for certifying data centers – based on their uptime – through a tiered system.
Understanding the Tier Certifications
The tier certifications have been around – in one form or another – since the early 90s. These standards are used to determine the availability of a given data center or other facility. There are two versions of this certification methodology:
- Tier Certification of Design Documents
- Tier Certification of Constructed Facility
The tier certification only refers to the data centers’ physical topology and only the part that directly influences the computer room operation. Certifications are awarded to facilities in these four levels:
- Tier 4 – Fault tolerant site infrastructure
- Tier 3 – Concurrently maintainable site infrastructure
- Tier 2 – Redundant capacity components site infrastructure (redundant)
- Tier 1 – Basic site infrastructure (non-redundant)
These tiers are important to look for when considering a potential data center as they’ll help explain what you can expect for your money.
Now that you know more about uptime and the organization everyone trusts to verify it, you should feel better capable of selecting a host for your company or understanding an important factor of maintaining your own server.