A stable power supply and a temperature-controlled environment are essential to maintaining a data center. In a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, “2013 Study on Data Center Outages,” 85 percent of 584 survey participants reported that their organization’s data centers experienced a loss of primary utility power in the past 24 months. Of that 85 percent, more than 90 percent reported their organizations had an unplanned outage.

In healthcare, this downtime can mean not only lost revenue but the inability to access life-saving information. Outages can occur for a number of reasons, from weather to equipment failure or even an accidental cutting of a power line. The key is to build in redundant measures that can keep a data center running in the event of a failure.

The Uptime Institute, a third-party organization focused on data center performance and efficiency, has developed a tier classification system that sets criteria to withstand a fault and provide a consistent method to compare facilities based on expected site infrastructure performance.

The tier breakdown includes:

Tier I: Non-redundant—This provides an improved data center infrastructure beyond the office setting and includes dedicated spaces for IT systems, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), dedicated cooling equipment, and an engine generator to protect IT functions from extended power outages.

Tier II: Basic Redundant —Building on the previous tier, this facility infrastructure includes redundant critical power and cooling components, such as UPS modules, chillers or pumps, or engine generators, to increase the margin of safety against IT process disruptions.

Tier III: Concurrently Maintainable—This tier adds the capability of no shutdowns during equipment replacement and maintenance with a redundant power and cooling path.

Tier IV: Fault Tolerant—This level adds the concept of fault tolerance to the site infrastructure, meaning that if/when equipment failures or distribution path interruptions occur, the effects are stopped before they impact the IT operations.

For more, visit uptimeinstitute.org.

For more on data center trends and design considerations, check out "Healthcare Data Centers: Carrying The Load."