The Keep is Coming: Switch Plans Huge Atlanta Cloud Campus

May 25, 2017
Switch continues to build out its national footprint of massive cloud campuses, announcing plans to build more than 1 million square feet of data center space on a new campus near Atlanta.

Switch continues to build out its national footprint of massive cloud campuses. The colocation provider today announced plans to invest $2.5 billion to build more than 1 million square feet of data center space on a new campus near Atlanta.

The new campus continues Switch’s expansion beyond its home base in Las Vegas to build a national, distributed network of data centers. The Atlanta site will be the company’s fourth U.S. campus, creating a network of regional data centers. Switch’s other sites include the SUPERNAP campus in Las Vegas, Citadel campus in Reno Nevada, and Pyramid campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Switch calls these its PRIME campuses.

Switch is also expanding internationally with projects in Thailand and Milan, Italy.

The Keep is Coming

The new Atlanta campus will be named The Keep, continuing Switch’s penchant for naming campuses after highly-secure fortresses. If it sounds like something from “Game of Thrones,” it’s not an accident. The keep is an architectural feature of many ancient castles, usually the strongest and most secure area of the castle. The keep was a stronghold where the kings or nobles would retreat for protection during battle.

This reflects the Switch design aesthetic. Its data centers are built to meet Tier IV standards, the highest resilience rating available through the Tier System developed by The Uptime Institute. The company’s expansion is enabled by a global design template, which uses pre-fabricated modular components to create a data center that can operate effectively in any climate. Switch founder and CEO Rob Roy describes this design, introduced at SUPERNAP 8 in 2014, as the “end game” for his vision for a versatile, scalable design.

The Switch project in Atlanta is projected to be several million square feet with two campus locations as the ecosystem grows. The company is not providing details on the locations of the two campuses, other than that the first part of the project will be located in Douglas County, an area west of Atlanta that is home to a large Google data center campus.

“By selecting Douglas County, Switch will enjoy our business-friendly climate and further secure Georgia’s status as the Silicon Valley of the South,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.

“The data center industry is a target sector for the Douglas County Economic Development Authority, as we have proven to have superior infrastructure and talent base to support them,” added Dr. Romona Jackson-Jones, chair of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. “We look forward to continuing to grow our relationship with Switch and ensuring this investment is a success.”

Switch is working with local energy providers to ensure the campus will be powered using 100-percent green energy from new, local, renewable energy resources. Switch has been an industry leader in sustainability, winning praise from the environmental group Greenpeace for its focus on renewables and energy efficiency.

Regional Hubs Offer Economies of Scale

The Switch Atlanta project reinforces several trends we’ve been highlighting here at Data Center Frontier, especially the emergence of massive cloud campuses that concentrate massive amounts of computing power in multiple data center facilities. Data center hubs enable companies to rapidly add server capacity and electric power, creating economies of scale as more workloads migrate into these massive server farms. DCF has recognized the Switch SUPERNAP campus in Las Vegas as the largest cloud campus.

A map of the Switch U.S. data center footprint. (Source: Switch)

It also speaks to the rising profile of the Southeast for large-footprint data centers. The region has been the focus of recent expansions by Google and CyrusOne. With new data center projects in Tennessee and Alabama, Google is focusing a large chunk of its computing power in the Southeast, a site selection strategy that has been unique among cloud-scale operators.  CyrusOne recently moved into the Southeast with the purchase of a large Sentinel data center in Raleigh, N.C.

Switch’s entry into Atlanta brings additional competition in the city’s multi-tenant data center market.  QTS Realty has long been the dominant player in the Atlanta market, offering its “three Cs” of custom data centers (wholesale), colocation and cloud. The company operates two huge data centers in Atlanta, including the Metro Technology Center in the city and a facility in suburban Suwanee.

Atlanta a Hot Expansion Market

Earlier this year Digital Realty announced an expansion of its colocation space in downtown Atlanta, while Green House Data entered the Atlanta market with the acquisition of Cirracore, which operates from 180 Peachtree, one of the city’s downtown data hubs (along with 56 Marietta and 55 Marietta). There have also been recent reports that CyrusOne is consider a huge new campus in the Atlanta metro area.

The original SUPERNAP expressed Roy’s vision of a new approach to high-density data center design. Built in 2007, the 400,000 square foot data center was most notable for its enormous size, but also showcased new ideas in cooling and aisle containment that Roy developed as he filled six smaller data centers in Las Vegas between 2000 and 2006.

Here is how each Switch is positioning its four U.S. data center campuses:

  • Las Vegas serves as a PRIME hub for Los Angeles, Phoenix and the rest of the Southwestern United States
  • Tahoe Reno serves as a PRIME hub for San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the rest of the Northwestern United States
  • Grand Rapids serves as a PRIME hub for Chicago, New York and the rest of the Northeastern United States
  • Atlanta will serve as a PRIME hub for Ashburn, Miami and the rest of the Southeastern United States

Clients at The Keep Campus will also have access to Switch CORE, a telecommunications cooperative that sells services from more than 50 carriers to Switch’s more than 700 global clients. Switch says that additional details about the Atlanta campus will be coming soon, along with anchor tenant announcements.

About the Author

Rich Miller

I write about the places where the Internet lives, telling the story of data centers and the people who build them. I founded Data Center Knowledge, the data center industry's leading news site. Now I'm exploring the future of cloud computing at Data Center Frontier.

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