Switching it up with epic SuperNAPs


Hi, my name is Jay, and I’m an IBM TRIRIGA information developer at IBM. Yeah, I admit it, I’m a bit slow with the local technology news in Las Vegas. I guess after so many years of writing about TRIRIGA real estate and facilities software, I’ve never had a reason to look into the details of the accelerating cloud buzz before. Maybe it’s the dry heat. :)

Switch SuperNAP 7 (SwitchLV.com)

Switch SuperNAP 7 (SwitchLV.com)

But in the last month, after hearing about IBM’s BlueMix PaaS, Amazon’s AWS IaaS, and IBM partners delivering TRIRIGA SaaS, I finally felt compelled to learn about the cloud. Recently, when a friend reminded me about her tour of Switch’s data center campus right here in town, I hurried to Switch’s website and was quickly hooked by their mind-boggling “cloud city” facilities, namely the Switch SuperNAPs.

What is a SuperNAP? What does NAP mean?

The acronym “NAP” stands for “network access point”. Based on my Google searches, here are the top 2 most relevant definitions:

  • NAP (Wikipedia): A public network exchange facility where Internet service providers (ISPs) connected with one another in peering arrangements. The NAPs were a key component in the transition from the 1990s NSFNET era (when many networks were government sponsored and commercial traffic was prohibited) to the commercial Internet providers of today. They were often points of considerable Internet congestion.
  • NAP (TechTarget): In the United States, a network access point (NAP) is one of several major Internet interconnection points that serve to tie all the Internet access providers together so that, for example, an AT&T user in Portland, Oregon can reach the Web site of a Bell South customer in Miami, Florida. Originally, four NAPs – in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and San Francisco – were created and supported by the National Science Foundation as part of the transition from the original U.S. government-financed Internet to a commercially operated Internet. Since that time, several new NAPs have arrived, including WorldCom’s “MAE West” site in San Jose, California and ICS Network Systems’ “Big East.”

In a nutshell, a SuperNAP is a data center. But that’s as over-simplified as saying that a Ferrari or Lamborghini is a car. If you can imagine a super-charged, super-cooled, and super-secured supercar with super-bright racing stripes, then the Switch SuperNAP is the Enzo Ferrari of data centers. In 2008, the enormous 407,000 square-foot SuperNAP 7 was opened. In 2013, the innovative 350,000 square-foot SuperNAP 8 was opened. If you’ve never visited the Switch website or campus before, here are 2 videos that give a quick taste of the ingenious SuperNAP 7 technologies:

Switch T-SCIF: Thermal Separate Compartment in Facility (heat containment) (SwitchLV.com)

Switch T-SCIF: Thermal Separate Compartment in Facility (heat containment) (SwitchLV.com)

Switch WDMD: Wattage Density Modular Design (cooling) (SwitchLV.com)

Switch WDMD: Wattage Density Modular Design (cooling) (SwitchLV.com)

Switch SuperNAP 8 (SwitchLV.com)

Switch SuperNAP 8 (SwitchLV.com)

What’s the big deal? Why should I care?

If you’re a data center geek or infrastructure guru, you probably wouldn’t ask these questions because you already sense that the SuperNAPs represent a vision of the future. But even if you aren’t a technical wizard, try to imagine a world where an entrepreneurial engineering genius such as Elon Musk designs the most advanced armor suits in history, where the “Iron Man” comic-book fantasy becomes a high-tech reality. What would happen to your vision of the future? Would it be transformed on an epic scale?

Switch C.O.R.E: Combined Ordering Retail Ecosystem (connectivity ecosystem) (SwitchLV.com)

Switch C.O.R.E: Combined Ordering Retail Ecosystem (connectivity ecosystem) (SwitchLV.com)

With the same feeling, try to imagine a world where another entrepreneurial engineering genius such as Rob Roy designs the most advanced data centers in history, not only the SuperNAP 7 but also the newest SuperNAP 8 and the upcoming SuperNAP 9. In this case, the SuperNAPs are already a high-tech reality. I wouldn’t be surprised if the data that you’re viewing from your laptop, smartpad, or smartphone is being transmitted through the SuperNAP ecosystem at this very moment. What will happen to your vision of the future? Will it be transformed on an epic scale?

Switch C.U.B.E: Cloud Ubiquitous Business Exchange (cloud ecosystem) (SwitchLV.com)

Switch C.U.B.E: Cloud Ubiquitous Business Exchange (cloud ecosystem) (SwitchLV.com)

For hundreds of clients who treat their data as seriously as gold, the SuperNAP data centers are certainly their Fort Knox vaults of the “cloud city” future. But for some of us who’ve heard about them only recently, our imaginations have only begun to transform.

Switch "Cloud City" (SwitchLV.com)

Switch “Cloud City” (SwitchLV.com)

Personally, I’d love to bring a few local IBM TRIRIGA colleagues with me and take a tour of SuperNAP 7 or 8 or both. Last Friday, I submitted my online request for a Switch tour reservation. Will we get one? Who knows? So stay tuned!

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