Tier 3 Data Centers

Understanding Tier 3 Data Centers and Efficient Management

Data centers hold an increasingly influential role in our landscape of modernity. From data center infrastructure management (DCIM) to hybrid digital infrastructure management (HDIM) with high-performance computing workloads, IT companies have much to consider and manage.

One way this management has begun to be systematized and made accessible across companies is through tiers.

How can companies begin to understand this tiering system and the different types of data centers? Having done this, how can companies take steps to begin to manage data centers more efficiently?

What is the Tier System?

Simply put, the tier system for data centers is a means of describing the different kinds of data center infrastructures. The tiers can also be described as levels. Each tier, itself, then describes specifics about how the various types of data centers function. This has implications for uptime, downtime, and the effects (or lack thereof) of disruptions, including outages and planned or unplanned maintenance.

What are the Tiers?

Data centers are assigned a tier rating based on a variety of factors. These include, but are not limited to, infrastructure design, operational sustainability, and various capacities. The now-common system was originally developed by The Uptime Institute in the 1990s and describes different IT requirements per tier rating.

Tier 1 and Tier 2

Tier 1 centers have basic features of a data center, including dedicated IT space and means of maintaining operations during disruptions. Tier 2 centers enhance these features by also including redundancy capacity components such as UPS modules.

Tier 3

However, Tier 3 and Tier 4 classifications are becoming increasingly necessary although they technically are efficient beyond many current IT requirements. Compared to Tiers 1 and 2, Tier 3 systems greatly decrease data centers’ downtime. They also involve an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) as a N+1. This means that the centers maintain the typical system while having a back up option when necessary. Such redundant delivery paths allow for maintenance, upgrades, and changes to be affected with minimal interruption to power and cooling.

Even though Tier 3 systems are still somewhat fault-susceptible, they are a substantial improvement from Tier 1 and Tier 2 options. Centers are opting to implement such functionality in light of the high price incurred for disruption if their centers are not optimized.

Efficient Management

Mahalingam Ramasamy, the managing director of 4T technology consulting, accredited tier designer (ATD) from The Uptime Institute, describes key features of Tier 3 classified data center systems that can help increase the efficiency of data center management. Such tips include:

  • Note where the electricity is derived from. The Uptime Institute purports that garnering electricity from only utility services is unstable. Automatic transfer switches (ATS)—at least two of which companies must maintain for Tier 3 classification—can switch to the backup generation with at least 12 hours of reserve fuel supply as a more sustainable option.
  • Make sure each UPS is connected to a single distribution box. This means only one power distribution circuit will go down in instances of disruptions, including failure or maintenance. Servers must each have two power distribution boxes as well as each server in the racks having dual power supply features.

Although data center infrastructure management can pose various challenges, the Tier system can increase efficiency through providing guidelines for improvement and sustainable ways to enhance IT functionality.

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