Tier Certification

Tier Certification Overview

Today, every organization relies on a complex interconnection of digital resources for their business livelihood and fiscal performance. Shareholders and stakeholders demand that their data center infrastructure investments are well defined and fully supported, as millions of dollars are at risk if the wrong choices are made.

Uptime Institute’s Tier Standards are the globally recognized standard for data center availability and overall performance. It allows for various performance levels that consider both the built environment, as well as the approach and performance of the operations team.

While Uptime Tier Standards define the topology and operational sustainability performance requirements for each Tier Classification, Tier Certification verifies the application of the Tier Standard to ensure the facility is designed, constructed and operated to those specifications.

Uptime developed Tier Certification over 30 years ago to measure how well a data center can meet the needs of an organization. Since then, these certifications have gained worldwide recognition and provide a mark of excellence unique to high-performing businesses. With organization-specific, component-level and performance-based evaluations, as well as extremely thorough and unbiased site visits, few programs can match the caliber of Uptime's certification.

With over 3400 awards issued in over 114 countries around the globe, Uptime Tier Certification is the industry standard for design, construction, and ongoing operations.

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Understanding Tier Classifications

Tier Certification certifies your site to one of four Tier Classifications, ranging from Tier I through Tier IV. A data center’s Tier Classification is aligned to the requirements defined in the Uptime Tier Standard specifications. The Tier Standards are an unbiased set of infrastructure and operating criteria, unique and well-known in the industry for their rigor and comprehensiveness. 

Tier I
Basic Capacity

Site-wide shutdowns are required for maintenance or repair work. Capacity or distribution failures will impact the site.

Tier II
Redundant Capacity Components

Site-wide shutdowns for maintenance are still required. Capacity failures may impact the site. Distribution failures will impact the site.

Tier III
Concurrently Maintainable

Each and every capacity component and distribution path in a site can be removed on a planned basis for maintenance or replacement without impacting operations. The site is still exposed to an equipment failure or operator error.

Tier IV
Fault Tolerant

An individual equipment failure or distribution path interruption will not impact operations. A Fault Tolerant site is also Concurrently Maintainable.

The Milestones of Tier Certification

Tier Certification of Design Documents

Designing a data center requires significant planning. Businesses must establish the locations of servers, prime and contingency power sources, network routes, cooling equipment, cable management, and required safety measures. This process is an undertaking that most businesses cannot reliably perform in-house, creating worrisome financial risks for investors should any design mistakes slip past.

Uptime's Tier Certification of Design Documents (TCDD) positions data center projects for success from the earliest stages by applying standardized goals and methodology. Uptime offers professional data center design certification to businesses looking to maximize the effectiveness of their facilities, while also ensuring the proposed design meets their intended Tier objective.

Tier Certification of Constructed Facility

Tier Certification of Constructed Facility (TCCF) ensures that your facility has been constructed as designed and verifies that it is capable of meeting the defined performance requirements. Common construction phase practices and value engineering proposals can inadvertantly compromise the design intent of a data center.

With multiple vendors, subcontractors, and typically more than 50 different disciplines involved in any data center project—structural, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, fuel pumps, networking, and more—it would be remarkable if there were no errors or unintended risks introduced during the construction process. Tier Certification of Constructed Facility lets you ensure your facility is built to its intended performance capacity, effectiveness, and reliability. 

Tier Certification of Operational Sustainability

Uptime Tier Certification of Operational Sustainability (TCOS) provides Tier Certified data center owners, operators, and managers with an assessment of the prioritized behaviors and risks intrinsic to data center operations and serves as an essential guide for effective and efficient operations. This certification ensures your well designed and expertly constructed data center is operated in a manner which will result in the expected production levels.

Owners and operators that earn the Tier Certification of Operational Sustainability have demonstrated their ability to plan for non-stop production to continue throughout all normal operating conditions. 

Tier Certification Scope

The Tier Standard specification documents are the basis for the Tier Certification process. We have included a summary of key evaluation components below, but please download the specifications for additional details on the components assessed during the certification process. 
  • Electrical Systems
  • Structural Factors
  • Building Characteristics
  • Mechanical Systems
  • Management & Operations
  • Site Location
  • On-Site Power Production
  • Occupational Safety
  • Physical Security
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Makeup Water
  • Ambient Design Conditions
  • Distribution Paths
  • Battery Performance & Storage
  • Critical Spaces
  • Outdoor Environment
  • Electrical Power Backbone
  • Commissioning Documentation
  • Fire Protection
  • Capacity Management

The Tier Standard Approach

The Uptime Tier Standard establishes a consistent set of performance criteria that can be satisfied, and adjudicated worldwide.  This performance-based approach is flexible to changes in the industry.  The six characteristics below identify how the Tier Standard differs from other standards in the industry. 

Globally Recognized

Our Tier Standard is the IT industry's most trusted and adopted global standard for data center design, construction, and operations. We've issued over 3400 awards in over 114 countries.

Technology Neutral

In an ever-changing technology landscape, Tier classification does not require or rely on any fixed set of technologies. The Standards are able to accomodate new and innovative solutions for data center systems and engineering, such as modular configurations, OCP, and leading-edge power and cooling approaches.

Performance Based

Tier Standards are performance-based, not prescriptive. Any design solution that meets the availability, redundancy, and fault tolerance requirements is acceptable. This latitude allows you to incorporate a wide variety of infrastructure and system solutions to best meet your organization’s goals for IT operations, costs, sustainability, and uptime.

Vendor Agnostic

Uptime is an independent services organization without any affinity to hardware or brand. This enables the Tier Standard criteria to be vendor-neutral and unbiased.


The performance-based nature of the Tier Standards gives organizations flexibility to comply with local statutes, codes, and regulations without compromising their Tier Classification. 


While Tier Standards define the requirements, Tier Certification verifies the application of the Tier Standard to ensure the facility is designed, constructed and operated to the the requirements outlined in the Tier Standards. 

Find Tier Certified Data Centers Near You

We have issued over 3400 awards in over 114 countries — a testament to the level of global respect that Tier Certification has achieved as an industry standard for design, construction and operations.

From rural to urban locations and everywhere in between, organizations worldwide showcase their commitment to data center excellence with Tier Certification from Uptime Institute. 

Visit our Uptime Institute Awards site to find Tier Certified data centers near you. 
Uptime Institute Tier Certified Data Centers