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Professional Services

Availability Class and Tier Level

The Tier level / Availability Class of a data centre determines the overall predicted service availability for the site and the opportunity for site maintenance required to keep the installed infrastructure in a reliable operating condition. The relationship between Resiliency, Redundancy and Availability of a facility is possibly one of the most misunderstood areas of the data centre industry. Future-tech’s data centre consultants have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the Uptime Institute Tiers, EN50600 Availability Classes and TIA 942 Availability along with other classification systems and regularly help clients to navigate the complexities involved in determining both current and planned Tier Level or Availability Class. Help is available during the design of a new building to ensure that a specified Tier Level / Availability Class is achieved and that this is appropriate for the organisation’s business needs. This also includes refitting / upgrading a facility to a higher level.

Why do I need Tier / Availability Classification Systems?

Each individual organisation has its own specific needs and requirements with regard to expected levels of service availability from their data centre(s). Use of a classification system is a convenient way to ensure that the M&E infrastructure within the facility meets those needs and adheres to a widely accepted benchmark. For organisations with mission critical service availability expectations and third party service providers a high Availability Class or Tier Level can give assurance to either internal or external customers that the data centre is protected against unplanned downtime.

Although most facilities are designed in a bespoke manner using elements of possible classifications systems these systems are a convenient way to determine and ultimately express the level of resiliency, redundancy and opportunity for non-service affecting maintenance offered by the M&E infrastructure within a data centre.

Our Approach

Navigating the data centre classification systems can be a complex undertaking. As experts in data centre design and build, Future-tech’s data centre design consultants have a thorough understanding of all these systems and most importantly their relevance to individual organisations and business requirements.

As there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, we always take a holistic approach to determining the relevant elements of the chosen classification system appropriate to each client. Every project starts with an understanding of an organisation’s business availability requirements. Once these are determined, our design consultants can advise on the appropriate design and whether a bespoke hybrid solution is required.

Adept in the assessment of third party design briefs and existing facility due diligence, we regularly work with clients to ensure that third party designs meet the specified requirements or that a facility being considered for outsourcing is suitable from an availability or tier level perspective.

Methodology

A Data Centre Design Consultant is assigned to each individual project. The first stage involves a requirement gathering process focussed on business requirements followed by the selection of an appropriate infrastructure level represented by the classification system of the client’s choice. Advice is available of the merits of the various classification systems available and may involve the use of a hybrid solution if appropriate. Our highly qualified consultants will then review the data centre design to ensure all elements of the requirements are fully covered.

If the project involves an existing facility, our experts will evaluate it against the original requirement and specification as well as current needs. If there are discrepancies, we will work to create an improvement strategy outlining the necessary steps to increase your data centre infrastructure resilience and ultimately service availability.

Output

On completion of a review or survey, clients will be issued with an Evaluation Report. This document outlines the chosen classification scheme, the achieved level or bespoke specification, details the review process and its findings before making recommendations.

When auditing a third party facility, the report will include a summary of risk factors and any discrepancies from a client’s desired level for a chosen classifications scheme. This might include Uptime Institute Tier Level, EN50600 Availability Class or TIA 942 Availability Level as well as other schemes. This allows informed decisions to be made as to whether a facility is suitable for the client’s critical IT systems and business availability requirements.

Steve Watt, Chief Information Officer, St Andrew’s University

“One of the key aspects to the Future-tech relationship is that we have access to the whole company, from the Engineers to the Managing Director”

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If you require any further information or have a specific enquiry call one of our in-house consultants:

T: 0845 9000 127

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