Tier Level Determination – Your First Step


A new market trend has recently emerged with regards to “grading and certifying” data centre quality with the use of the “Tier Level” standard developed by “The Uptime Institute”. With over 20 years in the data centre design and construction business, we are strong advocates of matching data centre infrastructure quality to corporate business requirements and “Best Practice” standards. Basing a data centre’s design on a set standard, clearly defines the required infrastructure topology, provides a structured design framework, and ultimately leads to the efficient design and construction of an industry “Best Practices” data centre. Agreeing to base a data centre’s design on a set standard (Tier Level) also provides a clear project scope and definition, for both managerial and financial approvals and commitments.

With an Accredited Tier Designer on staff, we can assist you in determining your needs based on the standard and then assist you in ensuring your data centre design meets the requirement of the standard.  We can then also assist you in the official certification process for both the design and operational categories.

Historically, the performance of a data center depended largely on the people involved in the design process. To design a solution, individuals and organizations generally relied upon unique personal experiences, suppliers, engineers, and hearsay. The results of this type of “opinion based” unstructured design process usually led to costly inefficient and ineffective designs that ultimately failed to meet best practice standards. This has prompted the development of various “criticality” or “Tier” standards to state and specify exact design requirements that would meet the required availability and reliability criteria of a data center (new or existing).

There have been various methods introduced throughout the mission critical data centre facility industry. The three most commonly known methods are The Uptime Institute’s Tier Performance Standards, TIA 942, and Syska Hennessy Group’s Criticality Levels.

The most accepted Tier Performance Standard comes from The Uptime Institute and is based on a 4 Tier rating system, where Tier 4 represents the highest quality infrastructure (5 – 9’s) and Tier 1 the lowest quality (2 – 9’s).  Modern data centers and server rooms can be rated in terms of Tier Level and can be certified to such, at both the design stage and operational stage, in order to provide a clear metric to rate the availability and reliability (i.e., quality) of a data centre’s infrastructure.

The Uptime Institute Tier level standard also clearly defines the required design topology for each Tier.  End users should always engage the services of an ATD (Accredited Tier Designer) to determine their Tier level requirement before the design process begins.   They can then base their design on the set requirements of the required Tier, thus greatly simplifying and focusing the design phase.