A typical data center is an industrial building that provides floor space for housing IT equipment, along with all of the necessary power distribution, cooling, cabling, fire suppression and physical security systems.
Data centers are normally located in places where the cost of electricity and land is low, but where there's also a sufficient pool of labour to staff the facility (unless it's a so-called 'lights-out' data center that's administered remotely and has next to no on-site staff).
TIA-942-A distributed data center topologies
Data centers are classified on a four-level Tier system based on work by the Uptime Institute, a data center industry consortium, and ratified by the Telecommunications Industry Association as the TIA-942 standard. For each tier the standard specifies the architectural, security, mechanical and telecoms requirements needed to achieve a given level of availability: 99.671% (28.8 hours downtime per year) for Tier 1; 99.741% (22h downtime/year) for Tier 2; 99.982% (1.6h downtime/year); and 99.995% (0.4h downtime/year) for Tier 4.
- N: meets base requirements
- N + 1: provides one additional unit, module, path, or system
- N + 2: provides two additional units, modules, paths, or systems
- 2N: provides two complete units, modules, paths, or systems
- 2 (N + 1): provides two complete (N + 1) units, modules, paths, or systems
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