Top Secret SuperNAP of Switch Communications

It’s located in Nevada, it houses the government’s — and your — secrets, and not many people have been inside it. No. This is not the infamous Area 51, but rather a description of SuperNAP, a giant data center outside of Las Vegas operated by private company Switch Communications.

The SuperNAP Western United States Data Center Campus is 400 acres made up of your emails, photos and videos, data from various government agencies, and inside information from Fortune 500 companies that will never make its way into a press release. But you wouldn’t know that if you ask Switch.

The alien spacecraft of this operation, located in Nevada for the very same security and secrecy goals as Area 51, is a patented cooling technology for the heat generated by the servers, making this the most efficient data center site on the planet, according to the company and analysts.

One of those analysts, Gleacher’s Brian Marshall, recently got a rare glimpse inside SuperNAP. He can attest to the facility’s security as military-trained security guards bearing machine guns were at his side the whole time.

“Not many outsiders have been inside this facility,” said Marshall, who wrote a note to clients today about his visit to the incredible SuperNAP. “There’s really no other place like it. It’s had zero seconds of downtime for its customers over the last five years.”

Marshall points out that because of the way SuperNAP was built and the way its cooling technology was designed, the data center provides up to 1,500 watts per cabinet to its customers compared to an industry average of just 150 watts. Heat is the enemy of server efficiency, analysts say, so the whole goal is to cool them. Switch says on its web site that it gets “100 percent” heat containment using its patented ‘Thermal-Scif’ technology.

Even though many companies have their internal data centers, they may rent or store their own equipment at SuperNAP because of its efficiency and security.

The goal of Marshall’s visit was to get a look inside those cabinets and see which equipment is used by the best data center on the planet. His theory being that if this is the future of cloud computing, then the companies used here will make great future investments.

What he found was VMWare’s (VMW) virtualization software powering Cisco (CSCO) servers and switches accessing data storage arrays from EMC (EMC).

“We believe EMC (in conjunction with its roughly 80 percent ownership in VMWare) is the single best positioned enterprise infrastructure company for servicing data centers of the future.”

Switch is expanding SuperNAP to 2 million square feet of space, up from 400,000 square feet today. And even though the facility is just 40 milliseconds from the East Coast, a SuperNAP East is in the works.

Just don’t try to find any information about the new location. When you click on the link for SuperNAP East on the company’s web site, there’s just a message that states, “Wait for it…this one goes to 11.”

For the best market insight, catch ‘Fast Money’ each night at 5pm ET and the ‘Halftime Report’ each afternoon at 12:30 ET on CNBC. 


John Melloy is the Executive Producer of Fast Money. Before joining CNBC, he was an editor for Bloomberg News, overseeing the U.S. Stock Market coverage team.

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