My thanks go to to Robert Jenkins, CTO ofCloudSigma, for allowing me to accompany him on a tour of the SuperNap, while I was at the Hosting and Cloud Transformation Summit in Las Vegas this week.

Simply put, at 400,000 square feet, the SuperNap is the largest data center I have ever visited. It's only getting bigger too, as the campus is designed to house 2.2 million square feet, with 600,000 of this total additional square feet having been announced earlier this year. It's a pretty intimidating space too.

My tour got off to a rough start, as my host had to leave me by the front door of the facility for a few minutes while he attended to some logistics regarding the tour. I thought I'd check email and return calls, but facility security must have found my presence and behavior suspicious.

Instead of checking email, I found myself explaining my presence and answering questions."I'm supposed to be on a tour. Robert's up the road getting his phone. CloudSigma. No, I didn't know the exact size of the party. I don't think they all work for CloudSigma." Most worrisome, "I can't see them either."

Soon enough Robert re-appeared, and we ushered past a security NOC where we turned over our licenses and then through a mantrap, and our tour began.

Our host, Jason Mendenhall of Switch, which owns the facility, proved both gracious and informative. The size and scale of the facility speak for itself. Of course, security followed us through the whole tour. And the presskit materials speak to the purpose of the facility, "Switch builds and operates the world’s most powerful data center and technology ecosystems. The Switch Las Vegas campus environments were constructed by the company including the world’s highest density, ultra-scale and energy efficient data center - the 407,000 square foot Switch SuperNAP. The proprietary design of Switch’s advanced facilities provide customers with powerful, efficient, and affordable technology solutions. The recently announced expansion of the Switch SuperNAP LV Campus will increase the total data center space to 2.2 million square feet making it the largest commercially available and independent technology ecosystem in the world. Switch provides superior colocation, connectivity, and cloud services for national and multi-national companies, government agencies and other organizations conducting mission-critical business."

The SuperNap provides colo services, cloud computer services, and telecommunications services include world-class, multiple carrier Internet access, transport and voice services which provide scalable and reliable connectivity.

Like any cool facility, leasing space in the SuperNap essentially frees tenants from the burden of meeting power, cooling, telecom, and, of course, security requirements. Switch proudly boasts of its physical assets, which include 500 MVA of power, 567 MVA of generator capacity, 294 MVA of UPS, and 202,000 tons of cooling provided at 22,000,000 CFM, often delivered using innovative techniques or patented technology. However, according to Mendenhall Switch owner Rob Roy rescued the facility from the Enron bankruptcy filing, so the SuperNap includes all the telecom facilities and suppliers that were part of Enron's efforts to create a broadband trading hub. This feature helps the SuperNap support the United States Inter-Cloud Exchange, which aggregates the world’s most advanced cloud computing providers in to a single data center ecosystem.

All these things impress, but the attention to small details caught my eye. For instance, fluorescent lights are left off through most of the built-out areas of the facility, unless turns them on to perform work. The rest of the time, the SuperNap relies on blue and red LEDs for general illumination purposes: blue in cold aisles and red highlighting the contained hot aisles. These LEDs help SuperNap achieve PUE of 1.24 and provide a visual clue to help clients distinguish hot aisle from cold aisle.

I could write more about what I saw, but the accompanying pictures tell more of the story.

These features are why Jenkins, my host, brought me to the SuperNap, so that I could see why CloudSigma chose the facility to house its pure-cloud IaaS offering, after numerous customer requests for a U.S.-based cloud. CloudSigma offers a flexible, open platform for customers to more easily build out their computing infrastructure while still supporting the high-performance requirements of even the most extreme scenarios. Jenkins  said that CloudSigma provided better performance than competitors like Amazon at a similar price, all made possible by efficiencies unavailable to larger competitors.  

I'm not sure how much value the security force adds to the facility, as the can do little to prevent hacking, natural disaster, or even physical threats such as EMP or widespread power outages, but they sure got my attention.

There is a happy end, however, as I did eventually get my license back and went back to the Summit, which is a story I'll tell next week.