The SUPERNAP Design Goes Global With Milan Data Center

Dec. 27, 2016
SUPERNAP Italia Milan data center is the first deployment outside of Las Vegas for the designs developed by Switch CEO Rob Roy, enabled by a global design template using pre-fabricated modular components.

Milan has long been renowned as a center for innovative design. That trend now applies to the data center as well as the runway.

Last week’s opening of the SUPERNAP Italia is the first deployment outside of Las Vegas for the advanced data center designs developed by Switch CEO Rob Roy. Until now, those designs have been seen only on the SUPERNAP campus in Las Vegas, which is the world’s largest cloud campus with more than 1.4 million square feet of data center space.

That is changing quickly. Switch is in the late stages of development on two huge new campuses in Reno, Nevada and Grad Rapid, Michigan. Meanwhile, SUPERNAP International has opened the project near Milan and is progressing on a second international data center near Bangkok, Thailand.

The rapid addition of multiple SUPERNAP projects 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. Roy describes this design, introduced at SUPERNAP 8 in 2014, as the “end game” for his vision for a versatile, scalable design.

Step One: SUPERNAP Italia

SUPERNAP International says it is investing more than 300 million Euro ($312 million US) to build its data center in Siziano, a town just south of Milan in the province of Pavia. Milan is Italy’s second-largest city and a key economic center in southern Europe, home to the Italian stock exchange and more than 40 international banks. In addition to its status as a finance hub, Milan Fashion Week has made the city a trendsetter for the global fashion trade.

More than 500 colocation cabinets and 3.3 megawatts of power have already been sold at SUPERNAP Italia, a 42,000 square meter (450,000 square feet) data center supported by 40 megawatts of critical power. The Switch design can support up to 40kW of power density per cabinet.

SUPERNAP International is a partnership between Switch and the ACDC Fund, an investment group whose two limited partners are Orascom TMT Investments and Accelero Capital.

“The lightning fast growth of the data that is running our planet has driven the demand from our clients who are global, industry-leading companies,” said SUPERNAP Italia Managing Director Luca Beltramino, an industry veteran who will lead the Italian operation. “They want their worldwide technology operations in the SUPERNAP International data centers.”

SUPERNAP Italia is also a founding member of the Open Hub Med Project, which was developed to create a neutral interconnection center in Palermo, Sicily to connect Italian providers – including the Milan Internet Exchange (MiX), Equinix and Italtel as well as SUPERNAP Italia – to major undersea telecom cables.

More SUPERNAPs to Come

The original SUPERNAP data center in Las Vegas was a pioneer in hyperscale computing, spanning more than 400,000 square feet and featuring the design vision of Switch founder Rob Roy. Innovations in airflow containment and multi-mode cooling helped establish the SUPERNAP as a leading destination for high-density computing.

Switch has added two more huge SUPERNAP buildings, expanding the campus to more than 1.4 million square feet of data center capacity. The Switch SUPERNAP Las Vegas project was recently name the number one cloud campus in our rating of the world’s Top 10 cloud campuses.

The SUPERNAP cloud campus in Las Vegas. (Photo: Switch)

Even bigger cloud campuses lie ahead. Development is underway on three huge data center projects scheduled to launch in 2017. .

  • Switch Tahoe Reno is projected to be the world’s largest cloud campus, with plans for 6.2 million square feet of data center space. The first building will span 1.2 million square feet of space, and is nearing completion. The campus will have access to up to 650 MVA of power, and will support up to 75,000 cabinets of IT gear.
  • Switch plans to build up to 2 million square feet of data center space at SUPERNAP Michigan in the former Steelcase Pyramid complex in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which will serve as its East Coast cloud hub.
  • SUPERNAP Thailand will be a $300 million data center will be located on the Hermeraj Chonburi Industrial Estate about 70 miles south of Bangkok. The site supports up to 60 megawatts of power capacity, and is located near an undersea fiber optic cable landing station in Sri Racha. Upon completion, the campus will house up to 6,000 servers.

Build Once, Run Anywhere

The Switch data center design is focused on creating the very highest levels of resiliency and density. When he designed SUPERNAP 8, Roy sought to adapt the design for any environment, creating a “build once, run anywhere” Tier IV design that could operate in any climate.

The modular SUPERNAP design, using building blocks known as MacroMODs, allows Switch to bring new levels of reliability and efficiency. Each MacroMOD consists of pre-fabricated components that can be assembled into two data halls. The building features a central power spine, with the generators and electrical infrastructure on one side, and the data halls and cooling infrastructure on the other side.

The Steelcase Pyramid building near Grand Rapids, Michigan will soon become the home of a major data center. (Photo: The Right Place)

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.

Inside the data hall, Roy’s design for a hot aisle containment system enabled customers to support up to 1,500 watts per square foot (the chief density metric at the time). The cooling units, who are housed outside the building, are unusually versatile, supporting six different modes of cooling. The software that manages the system selects the most efficient cooling method based on the exterior temperature, humidity and other conditions. The cooling system is supported by a rotary flywheel, which can ensure that the cooling units will continue to move air through the data halls in the event of a utility power outage.

The SwitchSHIELD double roof system provides protection against winds up to 200 miles an hour – more than enough to protect again typhoons, which occur periodically in Thailand and can bring winds up to 120 miles an hour.

It appears that in 2017, these designs will become fashionable in many new places.

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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