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 first of a series of pieces taken from the interview, they discuss the impressive “feeds and speeds” of Super|Nap and why it was built in Las Vegas.
David Vellante: So tell us a little about Switch and then we’ll find out why you built it in Las Vegas.
Jason Mendenhall: Switch is the creator of the Super|NAP, the world's most powerful data center. When we built the facilities our CEO, Rob Roy, set out to create a unique environment all about high efficiency, ultra-scale, high density data centers that are connected like no other on the planet.
David Vellante: So tell us how you ended up in Las Vegas. That’s not the place you would typically think of for a data center and a technology center.
Jason Mendenhall: There’s a lot of reasons that we ended up in Las Vegas. But one of the main ones is it is a disaster avoidance area. When you look at the United States and kind of cut it up, and you take the pieces and say, “I’ve got these critical issues going on here and those critical issues going on there,” earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, there’s a lot going on. It turns out that Las Vegas is one of few Metropolitan Area markets that has zero issues related to natural disasters. So Las Vegas became a natural place for us to build a Super|NAP.
David Vellante: So tell us more about SuperNap.
Jason Mendenhall: Super|Nap is a 740,000 sq. ft. data center. We have over 100 MWatts of power committed to the facility. We talk about 100 MWatts very loosely, but that’s a lot of power. If you take a very dense metropolitan area like L.A. or San Francisco, and you cut about a 2 sq. mile section out of it, that’s about 10 MWatts. So like Las Vegas itself, we don’t do anything small. We built the Super|Nap to be the world’s most efficient high-density data center. With all that power we’ve created a unique power delivery and power cooling system where we can offer data center colocation services that get up to 17.2 Kwatts per cabinet, which is really unparalleled in the industry.
It is one thing to have the power, another thing to be able to cool it. And with our patented designs we are able to manage the heat and the cold and the power and deliver 100% uptime to our customers.
David Vellante: Really. We hear Lake Mead is drying up, so is that an issue for you guys?
Jason Mendenhall: No, it’s not. When Rob Roy, our CEO, designed this high density environment, the issue he came up with was, “How am I going to cool this?” There really are only four methods you can use when you cool something: You can use direct exchange, indirect evaporative, direct evaporative or chilled water. What he patented was a unique air handling device that uses all four types of cooling. These devices are embedded with a computer system and also a mechanism by which it can detect the weather and choose the most appropriate method of cooling at that time. Direct exchange works like the air conditioning system in your car, it is a refrigerant-based cooling method -- totally water independent. So the Super|Nap can operate without any need for water thanks to this cooling method.