Which tier is right for you?

27th November 2017

You may have heard of tier ratings for data centres – but how do you know what you need or whether your current provider meets those standards?

When choosing a data centre, one of the key questions to ask is what tier rating the facility has. Tiers determine how robust the data centre infrastructure is, and how much redundancy is built into the solution. This is important because the right tier can ensure business continuity if there are issues such as a power failures, storms and flooding. In addition, a robust, always-on solution will ensure you can implement a disaster recovery plan efficiently – whether you’ve been hacked or your central office has been hit by a storm you need to get back online as fast as possible. How your data centre responds may be vital in ensuring that you don’t lose business, so you should investigate which tier they are operating within.

Tier I is the lowest possible rating, and unlikely to be used for a data centre. It is more likely the in-office service or additional storage in the cupboard under the stairs. This approach has the highest risk as there’s no backup in case of hardware failure. This means that if the power goes out, it will take some time to get your business up and running; you may never recover all the data – or customers – you’ve lost in the meantime. If you’re currently at Tier One then you need to look for a data centre partner – and the tier ratings can help to guide you when you’re deciding what works for your business.

Tier II data centres will have an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS), which is likely to be a generator. This means that if there’s a power cut, perhaps due to a storm or a fault in the electrical grid, then your system will keep running using power from the generator. This is a good failsafe measure which gives some peace of mind that you won’t walk into work on Monday to find that your systems have been shut down all weekend, or that you’re losing hours in the working week while you wait for the power to be restored.

Tier III offers dual UPS from two generators. This means even if the power from the grid fails and one of the generators fail, there is a second one to pick up the load. Today’s business environment, with clients all over the world and online sales changing the way many do business, even thirty minutes downtime could cause a significant dent in the bottom line. This is why many opt for a Tier III to ensure that they can provide an exemplary service to both domestic and international customers. This is important if a business relies heavily on its systems and servers and is also vital for online businesses. If you attract business from all over the world and the power goes out while you’re sleeping, it may be hours before you realise, and you could lose a lot of revenue.

There is a further level; Tier IV offers dual UPS, two generators and a complete fire-proofed separation between each, as well as UPS provision for cooling systems as well as servers. This can be an expensive option, but if you’re losing hundreds or thousands for every minute your systems are down, it may be worth the investment. Very few SMEs are likely to require such a comprehensive solution; most should be looking at a Tier III option which balances reliability with an eco-friendly approach which helps an organisation fulfil its carbon neutrality targets. If you’re already working with a data centre and you’re not sure what tier they are rated at, it is important to find out. If you’re looking to upgrade, or starting out with a new business continuity solution, Green Co’s new Segensworth site can offer reliable, low carbon solutions with a Tier III rating. You’re more than welcome to book a visit and see for yourself the range of solutions we have to make sure your business keeps running.

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