Switch’s 1,200,947 square foot data center in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center
A Switch official gave a presentation last week to the Commercial Real Estate Women of Northern Nevada (CREW) during their January lunch meeting at the Atlantis.
“Nevada has been an amazing home for Switch,” said Terri Cooper, the company’s vice president of sales.
Switch’s northern Nevada data center, located in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, opened quietly on Nov. 1.
Switch is unique in the way they build out their data centers. They really view themselves as a technology company, she explained.
Cooper used the example of one of their clients, eBay, to outline part of the importance of data centers like the one in the TRI Center.
Housing this data allows for eBay to access information regarding sales, trends and other user habits.
“You need big devices to store that data,” Cooper said.
After the devices, then you need the network. “Racks” are the spaces within Switch’s data center that store a company’s data.
“We have delivered 100 percent on time to companies,” Cooper said.
Cooper estimated that 90 percent of data has been generated in just the past two years.
This increase in data can be attributed to the Internet of Things, essentially the interconnection via the Internet of processing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.
All of this data is stored somewhere. It can contain sensitive information such as the history and knowledge connected to the application on your phone that opens and closes your garage door. So what happens if this information is hacked?
“All of this data needs to be saved somewhere,” Cooper said.
Part of what makes Switch different from other data centers is its CEO and Founder Rob Roy.
“Rob holds 260 patent and patent pending claims and environmental design,” Cooper said.
The way Switch cools it’s data centers is just one factor that makes it unique.
Most data centers push cold air up from the bottom of the racks to cool equipment, resulting in racks remaining only partially full due to the difficulty of getting cold air to reach the top.
One of the biggest problems in data centers is not space but rather, “cooling hot air that comes out back of gear,” Cooper said.
Roy’s innovative design is to, basically, cool them from the top down at the Switch data centers.
“Because of that, we have great control of temperature,” Cooper said.
The result for Switch is their customer’s equipment runs longer and better.
Among other unique factors to Switch, it the resilience to Nevada’s climatic barriers.
“We have eliminated our dependence on water,” Cooper explained in regards to the benefit of the company’s DX cooling system.
“We are the most resilient large scale data center ever built,” she added.
Part of what drives Switch to such a high standard is its customers.
Cooper estimated consumer patience to average about 15 seconds.
“That time matters to our customers,” she said.
Another aspect of their clients is their need for reliability.
“We also have government entities in our center,” Cooper said. “They can’t afford to be down.”
Switch’s data center in the TRI Center is 1,200,947 square feet and uses up to 130 megavolt amperes (MVA) of power.
“We just did it way bigger up here in Reno,” Cooper said in comparison to Switch’s Las Vegas data centers.
Switch’s website says it will eventually have up to 6,487,241 square feet of space at the TRI Center, spread across seven buildings.
Northern Nevada weather affects the timing of construction at the TRI Center. In Las Vegas, once the slab for the building down, they can be up and running in 10 months, but that timeline isn’t a sure thing here.
Switch also worked with Nevada to solidify a sales tax of two percent.
“That is a game changer to move companies,” Cooper said.
In addition to their huge growth initiatives as more data needs storage locations, Switch prides themselves on green initiatives too.
They scored at the top of Greenpeace’s scorecard.
“Data runs the planet but should not ruin the planet,” Cooper said.
She acknowledged that in great cooperation they are leaving NV Energy. They plan to run all green and will work the NV Energy on distribution aspects.
They also carry a Tier IV Gold certification
“The gold certification says you’re operating at excellence,” Cooper said. “And it is all here in Nevada.”
Switch has about 675 employees but its Vegas location alone has about 5,000 people from client companies with badges to work in Switch. She estimated that about 2,500 of those badged people have Nevada drivers licenses and the other 2,500 fly in and contribute to Nevada’s economy via hotel rooms, dining, gaming and more.
Another innovation of Switch is its high-speed data transmission, the Superloop that connects Reno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“In November, the governor officially lit the Superloop,” Cooper said.
“We are in the process of getting every school in Nevada connectivity (to the Superloop),” she added.
They are also working with Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) to create programs for degrees focused on engineering in cooling that can serve Switch and other data centers.
Cooper predicted that moving forward, Switch will be in a lot more states and countries. They are building out spaces in the U.S. Midwest, Bangkok, and Milan to name a few.
“We think Nevada is one of the safest places to have data, but we always tell our customers to have a second copy of their data,” Cooper said.
To learn more about Switch or to schedule a tour of one of their data centers, visit http://www.switch.com.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.