Inside Switch: ‘Remarkable, reliable environment’

A Switch SUPERNAP Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Feb. 9, 2016)

LAS VEGAS (WOOD) — Despite an occasional news release or quote from their P.R. firm,  much about Switch, the Nevada-based data storage provider coming to Kent County, has remained a mystery.

But the leader of one West Michigan IT service has had an inside look at Switch’s Las Vegas-area operations and he’s impressed.

“The floors are immaculate. The racks are clean. Everything is color-coded and standardized. And that attention to detail, you notice it as soon as you walk in,” said James VanderMey, the chief innovations officer for Grand Rapids-based Open Systems Technologies.

There are also protective and redundancy features throughout the building.

“From the air handling units that are on the outside to the double roof that’s above the top of the building to their power distribution capabilities to their network infrastructure, they have created a remarkable, reliable environment where they’ll guarantee power and network availability at a 100 percent,” VanderMey said.

Security at their facilities is also tight. One reason is that patent technologies developed by Switch founder Rob Roy need to be protected.

But the biggest reason is securing all of the information stored by the company. It’s not only corporate secrets — Switch’s various clients may be storing your information.

“It could be as trivial as your family photographs that are on … Shutterfly or Flickr or some site. But it might be as significant as your personal health records,” VanderMey said.

All of that adds to Switch’s reputation in the industry for reliability. That reliability translates into more business. More business could be a major boost to the West Michigan economy when Switch moves into the old Steelcase pyramid in southern Kent County. That property will become its East Coast Hub.

“From an employment standpoint and from an investment standpoint and from the companies that are going to be coming here to support the data center,” VanderMey said.

Of course, we’ve heard it all before — promises made by the ‘next big thing’ coming to West Michigan, the new economy’s answer to jobs here at home.

Still, VanderMay is convinced the Switch project is the real deal.

“It’s not playing into alternative energy or battery production, which are industries that are not here yet. This is an industry that’s already here,” he said.

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