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Tier certification becoming more popular

By Donna Donnowitz
May 6, 2011
Data centers administrators are increasing their dependence on the Uptime Institute's tier system to rate a data center's reliability, security and stability.

Julian Kudritzki, vice president for the Uptime Institute, recently told the IDG News Service that more data center managers are relying on the tier system, which is gaining a prominent role in the data center design and construction industry. Furthermore, many businesses are clinging to the simple four-tier designation program and asking their colocation facilities to become tier certified.

The tier system simplifies data center evaluation. Tier 1 represents the least secure, most-likely-to-fail data center that cannot offer reliable uptime. Tier 4, on the other hand, is a veritable fortress of data center design and security.

In an interview with IDG, Kudritzki explained that the tier system is important because each data center is unique and customized to meet specific purposes.

"The tier system serves to take data centers, which are by definition highly customized, unique facilities, and compare them using a common set of concepts," Kudritzki told the news source. "We look purely at the design and its implementation, we don't look at what kind of building you have or how you staff it. Not that those aren't important but we start by asking, what are the maintenance opportunities and what is its fault response."

Kudritzki told IDG that how often a data center must take systems offline for maintenance and other planned tasks is a major part of what separates Tier 2 and Tier 3 facilities. He explained that a Tier 3 data center will have enough built-in redundancy that it will be able to perform most maintenance tasks while maintaining uptime, while a Tier 2 facility will have to temporarily shut services down.

In many ways, the Uptime Institute's tier system has become important because data centers are now much more reliable than they were in the past, making uptime a key competitive advantage. Recent data breaches and service outages represent this trend, eWeek reports.

Paul Roberts, a security evangelist at Kaspersky Lab, recently told eWeek that major outages at prominent data centers in recent months should not be considered a black-eye on current data center environments. Instead, it is important to remember that such outages used to be quite common and are now major news because data center technologies have become so reliable.


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