As I knew the OSI team would be out in Las Vegas at the end of Feb for the Teleco Channel Partner Conference & Expo, I called a few clients that had expressed an interest in this market to see if they cared to join our team on a few datacenter tours. Like many of you, I had heard stories about SwitchNAP and wanted to see for myself the security theater of armed guards and turret gunners. I was also excited to see ViaWest’s brand new “Tier4 classification” datacenter and the beginning of what apparently would be a large campus the former CFO of SwitchNAP was building called Cobalt.

Having assisted with the deployment of a few deals already in Las Vegas over the prior year, I am very glad we took the time to step away from the non-stop meetings and shmoozing at the conference to check out what was available in this market. Seeing first hand any facility we might recommend to a client and meeting the team on site definitely helps us gauge what is actually going on behind all the marketing and salesmanship.

We were very thankful to have been escorted to and from each facility. Below is where/who we toured and vetted, in order of when we actually toured them:

SwitchNAP 7135 S. Decatur Boulevard, Las Vegas

Cobalt – 7710 W. Cheyenne Avenue, Las Vegas

ViaWest – 3330 W Lone Mountain Rd., North Las Vegas

Having now been through each facility in person, we’ve added a bit more color to the complex matrix of how each provider stacks up against one another. As expected, each provider most definitely is an ideal fit for a specific type of customer with a specific need. Below are a few quick comments on what stood out for both our team and our client that joined us on the tour.

SwitchNAP was most definitely impressive and lived up to the hypethough I was disappointed not seeing the remote activated turret guns I know someone mentioned to me over the past few years 🙂 To sum up the security they have in place, I’ll just say the liability insurance these guys must pay to have so many armed guards must be ridiculous. Richard Weltmer toured us through the facility like a pro, clearly having performed this tour over 100 times. Redundancy was solid across the board, high density was no issue, lots of room for growth, smart hands available if/as needed… long story short, if I needed to be in Las Vegas, had the money to pay the premium for space and power, or simply had massive network needs to offset this premium (as network in/out of their facility can get extremely inexpensive as one scales), I wouldn’t hesitate deploying my production environment in SwitchNAP. 

Cobalt was a solid N+1 facility for a client not needing the sexy factor of SwitchNAP. The facility was nearly 20 minutes off the strip, almost brand new and not all that large, but they had all the core components a solid Tier 3 facility should provide and I have no doubt they’ll fill this place quickly with both hosting providers, MSP’s and DR sites as for the most part these companies don’t really need much more than affordable power/pipe/ping… which is exactly what Cobalt delivers. I especially thought it was kind of cool (though extremely expensive no doubt) for them to pre-install across the whole facility the StarLine Track Busway electrical power distribution system. If you haven’t heard of this yet, check it out.

ViaWest’s Lone Mountain facility was also impressive and lived up to the hype. Especially would like to give big props out to Alex Gerrard and Pete Elton for not being afraid to bust out the electrical one line drawings on the spot and walking us through exactly how power is getting from the utility down to each cabinet. This kind of transparency is unfortunately rare with providers, even when clients request to view these documents, and thus it was much appreciated. Though the facility lacked the security theatrics and sex appeal SwitchNAP provided, it came a close second with all the other bells and whistles one would expect from a brand new 40,000 sqft Tier 4 datacenter. For anyone needing a production grade facility in Las Vegas, this facility is a MUST TOUR. I expect this facility will be taking down the majority of competitive deals that do not need the massive transit/transport pipes I mentioned above that help make the TCO at SwitchNAP far more reasonable to stomach.

Note that Corelink’s facility recently purchased by ViaWest and ViaWest’s original datacenter in Las Vegas are not on this list as they are both at over 90% capacity. FiberHub, located just off the strip, was also not toured due to it’s relatively small size (7,000 sqft) and the limited time we had.

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