I had a few clients exploring datacenter options in the Phoenix area wanting my assistance with migration, DR and new deployment projects… and as it is my nature to want to actually see first hand any facility I might recommend to a client and meet the team there to gauge what’s actually going on behind all the marketing and salesmanship, I took a trip down earlier in the month to take a peek. I managed to burn through an entire tank of gas in 2 days driving around and I was honestly surprised and impressed with everything we saw and the sophistication of the sales and sales engineering talent that accommodated myself and my client(s) at each location.

Below is the list of facilities we toured and vetted, in order of when we actually toured them:

Phoenix NAP – 3402 East University Drive, Phoenix

TELX – 120 East Van Buren, Phoenix

Digital Realty Trust – 2121 South Price Road, Chandler

Cyrus One – 2335 South Ellis Rd, Chandler

IO – 615 North 48th Street, Phoenix

Sungard – 7499 East Paradise Lane, Scottsdale

We’ve compiled a rather complex matrix of how each provider stacks up against one another, and I must say each provider most definitely is an ideal fit for a specific type of customer with a specific need. Below are a few pieces of the puzzle that stood out for myself and are deserving of recognition.

Most Resilient Power Design – CyrusOne (2N+1) & PhoenixNAP (2N)

Assumes a client is picking up both Primary and Redundant circuits, with no single point of failure, it would take a serious catastrophe for clients in these facilities to be hit by an outage.

Most Well Designed & Managed MMR/MMA – PhoenixNAP

You have to see it to understand why, but two key components to this were that carriers had their own separate room to deploy and the interconnect room was completely off limits to anyone other than PNAP personnel. 

Most Secure Facility – IO & PhoenixNAP & CyrusOne

Perimeter fences and gates, bad ass mofo’s patrolling around w/ tazers, intelligent personnel, multiple layers of authentication… each of the facilities knew the game and played it extremely well… Though admittedly the worst security threat to a company would come from someone entering over the network and not coming in the front door.

Most Visually Striking Datacenter – IO

It’s massive, with massive ceilings, massive infrastructure, futuristic design (courtesy of the former owner), conference rooms everywhere, seemingly acres of datacenter space, dozens of offices for clients, massive NOC, a theater, a kitchen… every bell and whistle you can think of.

Most Visually Impressive Campus – CyrusOne

Though we saw only the almost completed project, it was easy to see that the entire campus both inside and out will be beautiful, striking and functional in all respects.  Hats off to the architects on this project.

Though a special Thank You and shout out goes to all the people who helped tour through each facility listed above, after meeting so many people, I’d also like to highlight a few folks who impressed me most:

Sales Engineer Award – Kirk Lane w/ PhoenixNAP

Kirk was a walking encyclopedia about all things PhoenixNAP. Like everyone else, we drilled him with questions about process, procedures, architecture, design, risk mitigation, security… and he nailed every question without flinching, changing the subject or avoiding the question all together. He seemingly knew more about each component of the infrastructure being leveraged up and down the power and network chain from the utility/carrier to the customers cabinet than the manufacturer reps likely know about their own products. Kicker for me was that he didn’t just answer questions, he did so in such a way that you know he loved talking about it and was passionate about what he did for a living.

Sales Award – Stuart Levinsky w/ CyrusOne

Though technically the GM of the West Coast for CyrusOne, Stuart was able to pull things together and accommodate a truly last minute request to lead a tour of their new facility at 6pm at night. We stayed until 7:30, with hard hats on, to ensure we had the time to walk through every piece of critical infrastructure we were hoping to see. Like Kirk, Stuart exuded passion for the company he works for and the facility he is tasked with overseeing. He made it extremely easy for us to set things up, get comfortable and get informed. 

All Star Award – Michael Maliniak w/ Sungard

Michael is hands down the most intelligent, well articulated and experienced disaster recovery (DR) specialist and engineer I have ever met. I had the pleasure of sitting down with him for nearly 2 hours and, as the Director of Technical Service Delivery at Sungard responsible for the entire DR practice at Sungard, I tasked him with getting me as smart as possible in as short a period as possible on all things DR. I seriously went from what I thought was an intermediate understanding of DR to a place where I now feel comfortable teaching on the subject all in a matter of 60 minutes. After the Vulcan mind meld with the man, I tried to convince him of how much more money he could make on the sales side of the house with both his knowledge and delivery of the subject… but he seems content right where he is doing what he’s doing.

If you don’t know these guys, look them up on Linkedin, connect with them, and learn from them as they are most definitely pro’s at what they do!

My only regret from this trip was that we didn’t have time to see NextFort or Corelink. Corelink we passed on due to it being mostly at capacity, but I definitely hope to see them both on the next trip out in the near future.

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