Greening the data center: Dry your tiers …

Today’s commentary comes from reading Digital Realty, Uptime Debate Tier System. I believe that the tier designation system is not only irrelevant now but also holds us back.

I don’t believe there’s ever been as misused a thing as the Uptime Institute’s tier designation system for data centers. What started as an easy shorthand to compare data center reliability has been routinely stretched totally out of shape as a tool of the sales and marketing wars. The sole aim was to be able to claim a higher tier than the competition.

One of the major problems in this is, how do you classify a data center that implements most of the characteristics of one tier but may also implement features of the next tier above? This is where you find data centers classifying themselves as things like “Tier 2.5”. This looks better marketing wise than “Tier 3” but what does it really mean? Who the heck knows!

By far the worst problem is that the tier definitions no longer fit many of the technologies and design philosophies of today. Design to the tier definitions and you”ll get an obsolete data center right from the start. It’s pretty much a sure bet that data center built with current, state of the art technologies and techniques would far out perform such a dinosaur, despite looking bad by tier definition. Things aren’t just apples to apples anymore.

So, what is the answer to this? There is no shortcut to evaluating and comparing data center reliability. With the explosion of green techniques and technologies, there are far to many variables to prune things down to a tiny set of outdated and overly broad characteristics. There simply is no substitute for research and consideration whether the data center meets the customer’s actual need and how it will meet those needs in real life compared to others.

It’s time to relegate the tiers system to history and move ahead.

Vern, SwiftWater Telecom
data center, web hosting, Internet engineering


2 responses to “Greening the data center: Dry your tiers …

  1. I guess you do want the Tier system to just go away since your data center cannot be certified.

    • Floyd, you seem to be insinuating the only reason I’m against the tier system is that I can’t meet it. I’d be careful making generalizations, you have no idea what I can do.

      I’ve taken a thoughtful and reasonable position on this, how about doing the same?


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