When you invest in colocation, VPS, dedicated servers or hosting solutions of any kind, you’re investing money in the hosting firm and the data center which they operate out of. But here is the thing each data center is not created equally and each hosting firm doesn’t operate out of the same level data center. Data Centers have tiers. In this short article, we will do our very best to explain the tiered structure of data centers and how they effect your colocation/hosting needs.
Data Center Tiers Explained
Right off the bat, data centers are separated into four tiers. The higher the tier, the better the data center. The reason data centers have tiers is pretty simple. Just like buying low-end tequila versus top-notch tequila, data center tiers exist to cater to the entire hosting market.
Typically, what separates data center tier levels from one another is cooling, uptime, security, onsite IT staff, disaster recovery solutions and power supply needs. So, let’s break the tiers down:
Tier 1 Data Center
Tier 1 Data Center facilitates maintain 99.671% uptime over the course of the year. This means on a yearly basis, a Tier 1 Data Center facility will guarantee at least 28.8 hours of downtime of solutions per year.
Tier 1 Data Center facilities offer no redundancy. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Tier 1 Data Centers offer no redundancy to clients. To go along with no redundancy, Tier 1 facilities typically offer low level cooling and power with no, repeat, no, power outage protection.
Tier 2 Data Center
Tier 2 Data Center facilitates uphold 99.741% uptime over the year. This means on a yearly basis, a Tier 1 Data Center facility will guarantee at least 22 hours of downtime of solutions per year. 22 hours is better than 28.8 hours, yet it still isn’t excellent.
Tier 2 Data Center facilities offer partial (limited) power and cooling redundancy. To go along with partial cooling and power redundancy, Tier 2 facilities offer a limited power outage protection plan.
Tier 3 Data Center
Tier 3 Data Center solutions maintain 99.982% uptime over the course of the year. 99.982% uptime converts to 1.6 hours of downtime per year. As you can easily see, the jump from Tier 1 and 2 data centers to Tier 3 is a large jump in terms of solution downtime.
Tier 3 Data Center facilities are N+ 1 fault tolerant, maintain great cooling and power redundancy solutions and provide clients with at least 72 hours of power outage protection. Combine that with multi powered equipment and multiple network uplinks and you can see why the jump from Tier 1 & 2 to Tier 3 is such a large jump.
Tier 4 Data Center
Tier 4 Data Center facilitates uphold 99.995% uptime over the year. 99.995% yearly uptime means yearly basis, a Tier 4 Data Center facility will guarantee at least 2.4 minutes of solutions downtime per year. We don’t need to spell it out for you. 2.4 minutes wins as compared to the other data center tiers.
Tier 4 Data Center facilities offer clients 96 hours of power outage protection, are 2N + 1 fully redundant (cooling, power, data, uplinks, storage, chillers, server, all HVAC components) along with being universally dual-powered. We don’t have to say it, but Tier 1 Data Center facilities are top of the line for a reason.
Which Data Center Tier Should I Invest In?
This is a pretty simple answer which can be based on both economics and need. For the majority of small businesses (mom and pop shops, sub 2 million per year) a Tier 1 Data Center design will suffice.
If you’re a medium sized company (25 – 50 employees, sub $10 million per year), a Tier 2 Data Center design will work just fine.
If you’re a large business (50 – 200 employees, sub $50 million per year in revenues) a Tier 3 Data Center solution will work
If you’re a multinational corporation who needs top of the line data center solutions, Tier 4 is for you.
Now, while the aforementioned data center levels typically hold true, don’t let our guide limit you. Do your homework and do your research before investing in hosting solutions of any kind. Understand your host is only as good as the data center they operate out of.