Datacenter in the desert

By admin, May 27, 2008 5:24 am

Call me crazy, but that wouldn't be my first choice for a mega-datacenter looking to triple the current industry standard for computing capacity per square foot. Particularly not right next to one of the most power-hungry cities on the planet, neon-bedecked Las Vegas. But apparently a company called Switch Communications is doing so, and according to the Register, they're getting a lot of interest from the Fortune 500.

If the company's claims for their capacity and efficiency are true, then sure, they are on to a good thing and may be able to provide cheaper service at higher efficiency than current datacenter hosts. But the question shouldn't just be what they can do for you today, but next year, and after… the company cites the electricity from Boulder Dam (er, Hoover Dam, I guess… sorry, just watched a History Channel documentary on it not long ago) as a reason for their choice of site, but the combination of extravagant casinos and exploding populations around the Southwest are working both to draw on the electrical grid for their own air conditioning and other needs, and to deplete the water supply which is generating all that juice. People have been predicting the demise of the Colorado River for a long time now, sure, but though the process has been drawn out, it doesn't mean it isn't real.

I guess the question in my mind is, what is the responsibility of the CIO to do due diligence when picking outsourcing providers of any stripe, be it datacenter, cloud, or plain old SaaS? I think most people would agree with me that the selection shouldn't stop with the sales brochure, but all too often it seems as though it's what is advertised that receives the most consideration, rather than what is likely, or possible. I tend to be particularly suspicious of this sort of thing when it comes more or less out of the blue, from some company which doesn't already have a significant track record and which is billed, as by The Register, as "The technology superpower you've never heard of." It's not that such phenomena don't from time to time emerge from obscurity ("Goo-what?") but that even in the tech industry, it's more common they not.

Anyway, I'd be interested from hearing from anyone actually dealing with this outfit and to hear what the rest of the logic on the Las Vegas mega-datacenter is.

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