The Next Generation Data Center – Super|NAP
Last week, while taking a break from the general debauchery that is Interop, I had a chance to sit down with some old friends at Switch Communications.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting NAP4, let me try to explain what a visit looks like…
First you pull up to a solid wall, surrounding what looks like a bomb shelter. You approach a speaker and announce yourself (and anyone else in your vehicle). Upon Switch Security verifying you belong there, they will open the gate and instruct you to drive around the building, inside the perimeter wall.
Once you find a parking spot, a door will open, and out will come a security guard that looks like a US Marine (because 2 weeks ago, he was probably still on active duty. Switch recruits military trained personnel for its security team). The security guard will very politely ask you for your government issued ID (drivers license). He will then verify it is you in the picture (and everyone else against their pictures) and will turn around and press a button on the wall.
Wall – “Switch Security”
Security Guard – “Mike Wiley with (names of everyone in group)”
Wall – “Have you confirmed the identities of everyone in your group?”
Security Guard – “Affirmative”
Wall – “Do you accept responsibility for everyone in your group?”
Security Guard – “Affirmative”
Wall – “Proceed”
Then the door will click and the security guard will open the door and invite you in to the first mantrap. He will then hand your ID’s to through the bullet proof glass to the guard (also an obvious Marine) while you look around a solid steel room with a revolving door. It takes your eyes a second to adjust to the dim room (not dark, just not Vegas sunlight). While you are busy feeling quite intimidated by the security protocols, the guard behind the glass is busy issuing visitor badges for you and your party. As each badge comes out, it is handed directly to the security guard in the room with you. He will then call the name of the intended recipient and will say “please wear this the entire time you are in the facility”. You comply.
Once everyone has a badge, the guard will use the military grade biometric scanner to allow himself through the revolving door. You wait until someone comes out to meet you, in our case Mr. Brian Boles.
Brian greeted us warmly and invited us into his facility. He scans himself to let each person in your party through the revolving door one at a time. The original security guard is waiting in the second mantrap for you to arrive. Once everyone has proceeded through the revolving door, Brian opened another door and we filed through, including the security guard.
Brian gave us a tour of the facility, including some environments Silverback has installed in that facility.
One thing to point out…everything in NAP4 is color coded…not just with sharpies and electrical tape. Powder Coat and High Gloss paint! Even the electrical boxes above the racks are painted red and blue is super shiny high gloss paint (more on that later).
During our tour, Brian took special care to emphasize the TSCIF above all of the racks and isle ways and mentioned the benefits of that patented design.
After our tour, Brian took us into an AWSOME conference room. I am a big fan of datacenter design, and anyone that builds their conference table out of ladder rack and brushed aluminum is pretty cool in my book. The overuse of ladder rack is phenomenal!
Brian then invited Melisa Young to the conference room to catch up with us and have a quick discussion about Switch’s plan for growth…SuperNAP.
SuperNAP is an UNBELIEVABLE concept. It is truly a Next Generation – State of the Art facility.
Let’s get the first, and most unbelievable part out of the way…1500 watts per square foot. That’s right, you read right. Not a typo…ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED WATTS PER SQUARE FOOT!
After we picked ourselves up off the ground, Melisa explained how they can manage that over 407,000 square feet. The concept is actually quite simple. Get the utility to provide more power to you than they provide to the Belagio, the Venitian, and Cesars Las Vegas combined, add a completely redesigned, patented cooling system (thanks Rob Roy), and System + System power and cooling equipment… … …shake and serve.
That brings up my next point. Switch has a 100% uptime guarantee on power. Not 99.999%…a ONE and TWO ZERO’S! ONE HUNDRED PERCENT UPTIME GUARANTEE ON POWER – FULL SLA…100% UPTIME! How on earth can they do that??!?! Easy…System + System power.
We are all familiar with redundant power supplies, circuits, and pdu’s…but Switch went further. They went to the UPS, then to the ATS, then to the building feed, then to the sub-station…then to the grid!! Switch’s power redundancy goes all the way out to separate power grids!
That means the utility company could lose a grid, and Switch customers still have power. Hell, BOTH grids could go down and Switch customers could lose power…Both grids, and an entire UPS could go bad…and Switch customers still have power…I could go on…and on…
Power distribution at Switch is broken into multiple Systems: Red, Blue, and Grey. Each device must be plugged into at least 2 distinct systems to qualify for the SLA. Single corded devices must use a dedicated ATS to qualify. Each part to the electrical system is color coded to the system it belongs to, right down to the conduit it runs through.
I know what you are asking…how do you cool 1500 watts per sqft in a datacenter when Leibert can only commit to 250 watts per sqft? Apparently, after Rob Roy heard he needed 200,000 sqft of Leibert devices to cool 407,000 sqft, Rob visited the Leibert factory and talked to them about getting more cooling out of less equipment. While I am not sure how that conversation went, I do know Rob set out to design a completely revolutionary design that has no cooling equipment on the raised floor. All of the cooling equipment is outside and above a false ceiling.
Enter TSCIF. Thermal SCIF (TSCIF) is another Rob Roy brain child. Every hot isle is contained and forces all heat up into the false ceiling, where is it sucked into the CRAC units. Pushing only hot air into the CRAC units makes them run much more efficiently, and reduces the overall temperature in the datacenter. Cold air is then pumped in through overhead ducts and is blown into cold isles.
When you factor in the security, redundancy, innovation, and dedication as 4 of the core factors in picking your next co-location or datacenter facility, Switch Communications wins every time.
Oh! I failed to mention the “other” neat thing about Switch…27 major ISPs on net…
Here are some specs on SuperNAP:
– 407,000 square feet of space
– 7,000+ cabinets
– 250 MVA Switch owned substation
– 146 MVA of generator capacity
– 84 MVA of UPS supply
– 30,000 tons of system + system cooling
– 4,500,000 CFM
– 30 cooling towers
– 100% heat containment using thermal-scif
– Designed for 1500 watts per sq. ft. density
– Armed 24×7×365 military trained, Switch employed security staff
They have a pretty awesome video on their website outlining some of the features of SuperNAP, including a demonstration of TSCIF and how it works. Check it out here. (Make sure your sound is on…)
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