Clearing the Fog Around the Uptime Tier Rating System

We’ve all heard our friends and counterparts in the industry say “if they’re going to move their company’s infrastructure into a third-party data center, then they will only consider a Tier IV data center.” Heaven forbid, someone would recommend a Tier II, or dare we say, a Tier I facility.  “Tier I” is almost a four-letter word.  But, why?

If you were to ask four different people to explain the Uptime Institute’s Tier Certification System, you’re more than likely to get four different answers (none of which are guaranteed to be correct).  And yet, many CIOs and IT Directors decide where to place their infrastructure – or where not to place their infrastructure – based, in large part, on this certification. 

So what does it mean to be “certified” versus just ‘built to Tier specifications’?  What about “fault tolerant” and “concurrently maintainable”?  Moreover, does your organization have those requirements?  Do you really need to pay a premium for them?

An article written by the Director of Content and Publications at Uptime Institute, Matt Stansberry, explains what the Tier Certification system is and, maybe just as importantly, what it isn’t. In the simplest of terms, Stansberry clarifies that the Tier Classification System was created in order to maintain consistency in evaluation data centers. “The Tiers (I-IV) are progressive,” he says. “Each Tier incorporates the requirements of all the lower Tiers.”

Typically costs increase with Tier Level. Stansberry elaborates, “A Tier IV solution is not “better” than a Tier II solution. The data center infrastructure needs to match the business application, otherwise companies can overinvest or take on too much risk.” This decision weighs heavily and often people go with a higher Tier out of fear rather than understanding.

But what’s the point? Stansberry clarifies that there are more ongoing Tier Certifications in 2015 than there ever was in a 20 year history of the Classification system. “As the IT industry moves further into the cloud and IaaS mode of IT service delivery, the end user has less control over the data center infrastructure than ever before,” he emphasizes. “Tiers and Operational Sustainability provide third-party assurance that the underlying data center infrastructure is designed and operated to the customer’s performance requirements.”

While navigating data center infrastructures and finding the best fit for your organization may seem a daunting task, ARG has the key to making it easy. Resident data center specialist, Justin Praske, helps businesses through the data center selection process daily. With his familiarity of the various data centers and their infrastructure nuances, Justin is invaluable to a company with limited knowledge of Tier Classification and data center selection.

For more information, you can reach out to ARG at To contact Justin Praske directly, please email him at

To read Matt Stansberry's full explanation of the Tier Classification System, you can go here