A long time ago in the mid-1990s, Ken Brill, Jedi Knight, brilliantly created the concept of a “tier system of availability” based primarily on the redundancy level of the facility power and cooling infrastructure, and subsequently founded the Uptime Institute (UI). While he has since passed on to a galaxy far, far away in 2013, many data center designers, builders, and operators have adopted his well respected concepts either directly or indirectly. Nonetheless, many debate if the UI “Tier” rating system is a “standard” or just a proprietary method for rating a facility. Over the past few years this has spawned other organizations to create their own version of a “tier” system, which has now turned into “Tier Wars.” To put this into perspective, here is a brief summary on the history and new players in the Tier Wars.
As noted above, the Uptime Institute (UI) formally originated and defined “Tier system of Availability” (Tier I, II, III, or IV, with the specific use of Roman numerals considered as their copyrighted and trademarked intellectual property). UI was acquired in 2009 by the 451 Group, which is a for-profit corporation. UI charges fees for their design review, as well as facility construction inspection services, which they require in order to bestow the coveted UI “Tier” rating.