Uptime Institute

Uptime Institute is an American organization focused on the “Tier Standard” and certifying compliance of data centers around the world. Originally published in a white paper, the Uptime Institute's animal concepts have since become a globally recognized standard influencing data center design and investment.

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Standardization

The Data Center Tier Standards are a standardized method to determine the availability in a data center. More than 1000 data centers worldwide have already certified their data centers according to the tier standard. 

The certification process consists of two parts:

Tier Certification of Design Documents – typically the first step in the tier process and is used to adapt the design and construction of a new facility to the needs of an organizational unit or company.

Tier Certification of Constructed Facility – the last part of the process that ensures that the actual built data center will deliver the results specified in the tier standard.

Tier certifications are awarded in four levels:

In addition to the tier certification above, the Uptime Institute also issues a Tier Certification of Operational Sustainability (TCOS) certification, which targets the managerial level, operations, and maintenance of data center infrastructure rather than its design topology. The TCOS defines the behaviors and risks outside of the tier classification system (I, II, III, IV) that impact the long-term performance of the data center. It bridges the behavior at the data center site and the tier functionality of the site infrastructure.

Tier topology compliance

1. Tier Certification of Design Documents (TCDD)

Check construction on site

2. Tier Certification of Constructed Facility (TCCF)

In-service inspection

3. Tier Certification of Operational Sustainability (TCOS)

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Tier-Standard

The Uptime Institute Tier standard specifies four distinct definitions of data center infrastructure classifications (Tier I, Tier II, Tier III, Tier IV) and the performance confirmation tests to determine compliance with the definitions.

Tier IV - Fault Tolerant Infrastructure

Availability: 99.995%
Maximum downtime per year: 26.3 minutes
Components: 2 x (N+1)
Supply path: 2 x active

Tier III - Redundancy and continuous maintenance

Availability: 99.982%
Maximum downtime per year: 1.6 hours
Components: N+1
Supply path: 1 x active, 1 x passive

Tier II - Redundant capacity of components

Availability: 99.749%
Maximum downtime per year: 22 hours
Components: N+1
Supply path: simply designed

Tier I - Basic Infrastructure

Availability: 99.671%
Maximum downtime per year: 28.8 hours
Components: 1 (no redundancy)
Supply path: simply designed

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Infrastructure Consistency

The tier classifications describe the topology of the infrastructure required to operate the data center on a site-by-site basis, not the characteristics of individual systems or subsystems. This standard is based on the fact that data centers depend on the successful and integrated operation of several separate on-site infrastructure subsystems, the number of which depends on the individual technologies (e.g. power generation, cooling, uninterruptible power sources) selected to sustain the operation.
Each subsystem and system integrated into the data center infrastructure must be consistently deployed with the same goal of site uptime to meet the different tier requirements.

Compliance with the requirements of each tier is measured through results-based confirmation testing and operational impact. This measurement method differs from a prescriptive design approach or a checklist of required equipment.
Investments in the infrastructure of the data center location should be made for the specific application and the associated availability requirements. Knowledge of the actual effects, such as the costs of an interruption, is essential and is of particular importance. The cost of disruption makes investing in high-availability infrastructure a relatively easy business decision.

Simply put, the tier topology assessment for an entire site is constrained by the assessment of the weakest subsystem affecting the site's operations. For example, a site with a robust Tier IV UPS configuration combined with a Tier II chilled water system will result in a Tier II site rating.

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Rank Rating Meaning

A site's tier rating is not the average of the ratings for the site's critical infrastructure subsystems. The location's tier rating is the lowest of the individual subsystem ratings.

Likewise, the tier rating cannot be leveraged by using the statistical reliability of the MTBF (Calculated Mean Time Between Failures) component alone to determine a predictive availability, and then using that number to compare the empirical availability results with those of Match locations that represent the different animal classifications. Statistically valid component values are not available, in part because product lifecycles are getting shorter and there is no independent, cross-company database to collect failure data.

Finally, this classification focuses on the topology and performance of a single site. High end-user availability can be achieved by integrating complex IT architectures and network configurations that take advantage of synchronous applications running on multiple sites. However, this classification is independent of the IT systems operated within the site.

Tier Certification of Operational Sustainability

Finally, this classification focuses on the topology and performance of a single site. High end-user availability can be achieved by integrating complex IT architectures and network configurations that take advantage of synchronous applications running on multiple sites. However, this classification is independent of the IT systems operated within the site.

Due to the many design and management options that may be dictated by the operator, regulated by local government, recommended by industry groups or generally practiced, it is not possible for the Tier Standard to set criteria for these additional factors and risks on a global basis.

The Uptime Institute Tier Certification of Operational Sustainability (TCOS) certification is awarded in three tiers:

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Your Experts

We plan data centers and IT infrastructure according to the specifications of the Uptime Institute and accompany you as accredited tier designers through the entire certification process. This includes checking and evaluating the status quo, audits and pre-audits up to the actual certification. With our team, we cover all subject areas of animal certification completely.

Contact us!
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