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Switch compound in Las Vegas wrapped tight in security

If you visit the Switch compound south of where Decatur Boulevard meets the 215 Beltway, armed guards serve as your escort.

Your photo is taken when you enter the building and when you leave. A front desk holds onto your driver’s license. A slogan on a company logo in the lobby reads: “Resistance is futile.”

During your tour — Switch conducted 1,200 tours for more than 6,000 people in 2017 — you learn that the pride of Switch is a ventilation system that keeps its data center around 70 degrees using outside air and conditioned air when most efficient.

Vents are colored blue and red around the campus to help Switch and visiting engineers know which ones handle cool air and which ones take in air emitted from servers, whose temperatures can reach as high as 110 degrees.

Roy’s is the sole name on all but one of the 13 patents assigned to Switch between December 2011 and November 2017, according to federal records.

He shares inventor credit on a patent for a multiroof data center with two men, one from Shawnee, Kansas, and another from Kansas City, Missouri.

His clients demand their servers stay on 24 hours a day. To accommodate this, buildings are concrete. Servers are kept away from any water hookups. The buildings have two roofs so the goods inside are never exposed should one fail or need repairs.

According to the company, the cooling system means it can fit more servers per square foot in its data centers because it doesn’t have to leave cooling space between them.

The protections are for real-world threats to data centers. In August 2016, a small fire at a Delta Air Lines data center downed its system for about five hours and cost the company about $150 million, according to CNN.

Armed robberies at data centers include one in December 2007 at a Verizon facility in London that cost the company more than $1 million in equipment, according to the Daily Mail.

Switch has 10 data centers in the Las Vegas Valley, with No. 11 under construction. The first nine are at capacity. The company plans to skip No. 13 for luck.

Within the past year, the company debuted a modular design of its data centers that it hopes to sell to clients who want their data close by. The miniature data centers can be assembled in six months.

Switch had more than 700 employees as of December, and over 10,000 people have a badge to enter the data centers on behalf of Switch clients. Employees monitor weather patterns to know when to close vents to dusty wind, and they stay aware of world events to anticipate lockdown in case of terrorism.

The Oct. 1 shooting sent the campus into lockdown until authorities could clarify who was behind the attack.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at 702-383-4602 or wmillward @reviewjournal.com. Follow @wademillward on Twitter.

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