Why MSPs Must Know the Type of Data Center Vendors UseJD Helms

JD Helms

As an MSP there are many considerations to account for when selecting cloud vendors to work with. One of the top considerations should be the type of data center your cloud partner uses.

data center for cloud based software companies

Data centers are graded on a tiered system by Uptime Institute, an unbiased advisory organization responsible for creating industry leading standards and certifications for data center design, construction and operational efficiency.

All reliable data centers receive a third party review from Uptime Institute that results in a certification which guarantees that a particular center meets all of the specifications for a singular tier.

Understanding Data Center Tiers

Data centers fall into four different tiers.  Each level is progressive meaning that as you move up, the next tier incorporates all of the features of the tier(s) below it while expanding its own capabilities.

computer server

Some cloud providers who have failed to invest in a Tier IV data center may tell you that there is very little difference between the tiers. However, it’s important for you to know what those differences are ensuring you make an informed decision on vendor reliability.

Below are simple descriptions of each data center tier.

Tier I: Basic Capacity

  • Dedicated space for IT systems
  • Uninterruptable power supply to filter power spikes, sags and short outages
  • Dedicated cooling equipment that won’t shut off outside of normal business hours
  • Engine generator to protect IT functions from extended power outages

Tier II: Redundant Capacity Components

  • Everything from Tier I
  • Redundant critical power and cooling components
  • Power and cooling equipment such as UPS modules, chillers or pumps and engine generators

Tier III: Concurrently Maintainable

  • Everything from Tier I and II
  • Requires no shutdown for equipment replacement and maintenance

Tier IV: Fault Tolerance

  • Everything from Tiers I, II and III
  • Fault tolerance is added to site infrastructure meaning that when individual failures occur there is no effect on the other systems because there are isolated distribution paths; the unaffected path will continue to function as normal

In addition to the four tiers, Uptime Institute also designates a bronze, silver and gold certification for each tier based on a data center’s operational sustainability. This encompasses the facility’s management and operational methodologies, building characteristics and the site location.

The further you move up in tiers and certification levels the less likely downtime or interruptions are to occur for your clients.

Uptime Institute no longer lists “expected downtime per year” in descriptions for tiers because downtime can occur for a number of reasons having nothing to do with the physical infrastructure of the data center. However, it’s still true that a Tier IV data center is expected to have the least amount of downtime due to infrastructure alone simply because of the fault tolerance mechanisms in place.

Here are annual expected downtimes based on data center tiers:

  • Tier I: No more than 28.8 hours of downtime
  • Tier II: No more than 22 hours of downtime
  • Tier III: No more than 1.6 hours of downtime
  • Tier IV: No more than 26.3 minutes of downtime

Most data centers you will encounter are Tier III, but a Tier IV data center is what’s best for your clients since it is the only tier with fault tolerance.

Why Fault Tolerance is Vital for Your Clients

How much money do your clients lose every minute that their systems are down? Beyond employees whose work comes to a halt, how are their customers impacted? And sales? How much of a headache does downtime create for you as their managed service provider?

A Tier IV data center guarantees the most efficient infrastructure with the best possible outcomes including minimal downtime based on the data center’s processes.

fault tolerant data center

A Tier IV data center is able to guarantee these results because distribution paths are isolated to prevent a single failure from impacting both systems. No other data center tier has this level of fault tolerance built in.

When your cloud partners use certified Tier IV data centers you can rest assured that every possible infrastructure protection is in place to avoid disruptions in service. When downtime can create havoc for your customers, resulting in money lost, that’s huge. Choosing partners who safeguard against this is highly important for your clients and your own reputation as an MSP.

CloudJumper is proud to use a gold certified Tier IV data center to ensure efficient operations with minimal downtime. Additionally, our Tier IV data center meets the following specifications:

  • SSAE-16 Type II
  • TIA 942 Class 4
  • PCI DSS
  • HIPPA and Sarbanes-Oxley certified

You can rest assured that our team is investing in the most advanced technology to provide you and your clients reliable software both today and in the future. We know how important a trustworthy data center is to our product and we’re always evaluating ways in which to upgrade our product and processes for you.

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