By Mark Awdas, Engineering Director, Cannon Technologies 

Tier III datacentre design is described as a ‘concurrently maintainable’ environment and ensures that any component can be taken out of service without affecting production.

The Uptime Institute created the Tier Standard more than 20 years ago and it has been employed in data centre design, construction, and operations across the world.  It is now the globally recognized standard for data centre reliability and overall performance.


Detailed Process

For any datacentre to gain any Tier Classification it requires significant time and effort.   The data centre topology and operational sustainability are assessed as performance criteria.  The process is necessarily detailed and can typically take up to three years to achieve.

A datacentre will normally apply for certification once the relevant infrastructure is in place.  However, if the criteria are not properly met, approval will not be granted.  Any remedial works required to resolve the issues identified, can be both time-consuming and costly to rectify.

However, final certification from the Uptime Institute confirms that the infrastructure has no weak areas, and the data centre has worldwide accountability for excellence.

To help organisations achieve Tier III status, our team at Cannon Technologies working in conjunction with several OEM manufacturers, including CENTIEL UK have now developed a range of pre-certified designs ranging from 100kW to 1MW fully approved by the Uptime Institute.

These designs will accelerate data centre clients’ own Tier III certification, reduce the cost, and fast-track their time to market.  Datacentre clients are provided with fact-based evidence that their final build will more easily obtain a Tier Certification by utilising the Cannon Modular Data Centre (MDC) range of products.


Joined Up Approach

Louis McGarry, sales and marketing director, CENTIEL UK confirms: “It has taken a significant amount of work and around 12 months in total to complete and gain approval for the 100kW – 250kW from the Uptime Institute, and a further 12 months to secure the 500kW and 1MW designs.  The process was intense and involved a joined-up approach with Cannon Technologies and the Uptime Institute to ensure all the rules were adhered to and a consensus of understanding was reached.   We are proud that our collaboration and combined efforts have now been approved and also nominated for four major awards.”


Technical Specification

Cannon Technologies’ Tier III ready design includes CENTIEL’s scalable true modular UPS CumulusPower designed with Distributed Active Redundant Architecture (DARA) offering the highest levels of availability, resilience, and flexibility for data centre installations.

Often within installations, space is at a premium, so consideration was given to reducing the footprint meaning it can be containerised if required.  CumulusPower with its front-access was important for the overall design, opening up opportunities for a variety of users from datacentres to medical facilities to organisations requiring smaller edge solutions.

We have completed several projects with CENTIEL including a recent installation of a Tier II containerised solution.  It’s always been a great experience working with the team.  CENTIEL’s UPS CumulusPower and the technical support provided is outstanding.   Therefore, we were confident we could offer the high-quality solution necessary for the Tier III data centre by working with CENTIEL.

The first tier III design was based on 100kW of IT load, it was determined that the UPS configuration had to meet a minimum resilience level of 2N. This means that there must be 100kW of UPS protection available to the load at all times.  The flexibility of the CumulusPower product range meant that the minimum requirement could be achieved in a small footprint by scaling 25kW modules with spare capacity to add redundancy. The addition of just one more module in each frame enabled us to take the resilience level from 100kW 2N to 100kW 2N+1 ((N+1) + (N+1)).

The first 100kW design, most suitable for edge deployments, was certified by the Uptime Institute in July 2020.  This was the foundation for the 250kW, 500kW and 1MW designs which now address the demand for larger data centres.

The UPS is only a small element of the whole approved Tier III data centre which has been created. Cannon Technologies has also worked with other partners to provide a complete data centre solution, which includes generators, switch gear, cooling and cabling so the entire design can be offered as an approved solution.  CENTIEL was involved in various points in the process to identify how the UPS could impact on the rest of the solution, even as far as environmental controls.

Cannon Technologies has developed a repeatable modular data centre product design composed of an initial 64.46m2 build supporting 16 IT racks with a capacity of up to 6kW per rack.  IT Load cooled using energy efficient free cooling water chillers with direct expansion (DX) Backup built in  and with-in-row (WIRC) air handling units.  The 100-kW Granular Modular Data Centre supports an IT load of 93.25 kilowatts (kw) for a data centre design that could fulfil the requirements needed to meet the Tier III standard.

Critical IT spaces within the design include a main data aisle inclusive of network racks and supporting mechanical and electrical (M&E) capacity components.  The design is based on a three phase, 380-volt (V), 50-hetz (Hz) power input.

The data centre module will be supported by two engine generators, each generator having a belly storage tank which provides on-site fuel storage.  Power to the IT load in the module will be supported by 2N uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units located in the data centre module.  Electrical distribution from the UPS to IT load is configured using A and B distribution through redundant cable and wiring located above the IT racks.


Meeting Demand

The team from Cannon Technologies has spent many years designing and building data centres.  The rapid accumulation of data and processing of critical information continues to drive the expansion of our industry.  Our goal is to offer the most convenient solutions tailored to the needs of our valued client base.

There has been an increase in the demand for certified Tier III datacentres.  Therefore, it made sense for us to work with our portfolio of trusted partners to develop a pre-certified set of solutions, ready to take to market. An agile approach and willingness to adapt from all our partners has been the hallmark of success in gaining this important Tier III certification.  It has been a privilege to be able to work with such experienced people who were hands on throughout and the result is impressive.

Now, any organisation looking to implement a Tier III data centre can purchase a pre-approved design and all the equipment for what is essentially, a fixed price.  We just need to re-assess the figures for the environmental element depending on the location of the installation.  Purchasing a pre-approved Tier III data centre in this way, can save time and reduce the overall build cost, while maximising convenience.  Customers can push forwards with confidence, safe in the knowledge the configuration is already certified.

Originally featured in Data Centre Management Magazine July 2022.

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