Ed note: Wikibon co-founder and CEO David Vellante interviewed Jason Mendenhall, Executive VP of Switch a co-location and cloud infrastructure provider, which has built the Super|Nap, the world’s highest density data center in Las Vegas. In this third and last in a series of pieces taken from the interview, they discuss the Switch Strategy of providing what large organizations need, including providing burst capabilities to back up large private clouds.
David Vellante: We’re here at VMworld, so let’s talk a little about virtualization and the cloud. What are you doing there? How much of your infrastructure is virtualized? Take us on your journey.
Jason Mendenhall: We saw the needs of our customers. Our customers came to us and said, “I’m coming to your data center. I’m putting this private cloud environment there. I’ve virtualized. One day my virtualized infrastructure is going to run out of capability. I need a burst-ready platform that I can get to when that happens.”
When we looked at that we decided that we have to create something for everyone. So we brought all the top cloud providers into the Super|Nap and created the first of its kind United States Intercloud Exchange. So no matter what type of platform you have, whether it’s VMware, some other type of hyperviser, the LAMP stack, Linux environments, Node.js, EMC storage, we’ve brought all of those providers into one facility. You can easily access all of those virtualized environments simply with a cross connect.
With VMware we have brought in Cisco and EMC and VMware and brought in a Vblock 2 Max, the first of its kind for service providers. And with that Vblock 2 Max we’ve got the Cisco/VMware/EMC UCS Compute Framework Reference Architecture. So our customers who buy into that architecture can easily get into our burst-ready platform at very low cost because they aren’t connecting out to the Internet. They’re connecting directly in the data center.
David Vellante: We talked to several members of the Wikibon community who have had to architect their own Vblock. Have you done something like that?
Jason Mendenhall: We really tried to stay with the standard. One of the benefits of the Vblock 2 Max architecture is it’s predictable, it’s referenced, it’s standarized. Since we’re trying to create an environment for customers that lets them predict what it will be, we decided to follow that reference architecture and be certified, have all the approvals from VMware, EMC and Cisco. They’ve touched it, they’ve blessed it, they’ve said this is a Vblock 2 Max. So what’s happening now is that our customers know they can get there easily. They don’t have to spend a lot of time testing against it. There are a lot of publications about this architecture. They know how to get there. And we make it easy for them.
David Vellante: So obviously VMware is in your environment. Do you have other hypervisors?
Jason Mendenhall: We also have Joint, which is a public cloud provider local here in San Francisco. We’re in conversations with other hypervisor providers. I can’t talk about some of them right now, but it’s the usual suspects, all the folks that you would expect. We are creating a universal environment, so that no matter what your compute infrastructure is, we have a solution for you.
David Vellante: So I want to talk about the difference between a cloud service provider like yourself and big IT. There seem to be some stark differences today. How are you different from big IT and do you see that converging?
Jason Mendenhall: I think one of the unique things we do is we bring all of the important solutions together in one place. We work with some of the largest IT organizations on the planet. And when we talk to them a data center guy comes to talk to us, and then a telecommunications guy comes to talk to us, and then we have a compute guy who comes and talks to us. The funny thing is that in almost none of these companies are these guys talking to each other. So we found ourselves in a unique position where we are helping these guys communicate with each other in ways they never have before.
So we view ourselves as facilitators for big IT to help them save money no matter what they are doing. I don’t think any large IT organization is going to be 100% on public cloud. They’re going to have a private cloud environment; they’re going to need a burst-ready platform; they’re going to need connectivity to that infrastructure, and then they’re going to need a place to put it. And with our data centers, they have the best place to put it on earth.