Thursday, February 6, 2014

You're not asleep at the switch if you claim 100% availability

So I was reading this article, and this sentence caught my eye:

Switch, a privately held company based out of Enterprise, Nevada, is a provider of these services through its SuperNAPs – high-density data centers located in Las Vegas – and it has announced today that Suprema’s BioEntry Plus technology will be further securing the mega-hubs.

I should provide the relevant DISCLOSURE that Suprema is a competitor of my employer. However, that isn't why the sentence caught my eye.

What caught my eye was the use of the term "SuperNAP." Is this a power nap, designed to mitigate the effects of Gray's maxim "sleep is unproductive and a waste of time"? Or is this a Rip Van Winkle type of twenty year nap? And who sleeps in Vegas, anyway?

As those more technical than me realize, "NAP" is an acronym for Network Access Point - something that you'd expect a company like Switch to provide. But why is the SuperNAP so super?

The Switch SuperNAPs are at the heart of our technology ecosystem. They are the highest-density, safest, most interconnected technology facilities in the world, currently powering servers for the globe’s leading companies. Since Switch first started in 2000, all of its facilities have provided 100% uptime for its clients...

Yes, you just read "100% uptime." Again, the technical folks realize that you don't bandy phrase like "100% uptime" around haphazardly. Even five-nines availability is difficult to achieve, and blogger accuracy is much lower than that.

Rob Roy of Switch discussed his 100% uptime claim:

Five nines of availability doesn't impress Roy. "We give 100% service-level agreements, guaranteed," he says. "Obviously, that's a big monetary risk if I didn't feel this design was ready for that. Our NAP 4 facility, which is our next biggest site [and also in Las Vegas], for three years has had 100% uptime."

The SuperNAP (network access point) operates its own 250 megavolts ampere (MVA) substation, 146 MVA of generator capacity and 84 MVA of UPS (uninterruptable power supply), topped off with 30,000 tons of redundant cooling.

"Our network for six years has never had an outage," Roy says. "Every single part of it fails. In any given month, something fails. Blades fail, Cisco routers fail, carriers fail, Sprint fails, Verizon fails, AT&T fails. But we build this stuff in such a redundant manner. The chance of something happening with us where you have an outage is really less than anywhere from a design standpoint."

And if the SuperNAP isn't good enough for you, the MEGANAP (NAP9) is coming.
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