Inside the Switch data center in Las Vegas, plans for West MI site

WZZM 13's Alex Shabad toured the facility out west.

LAS VEGAS, NV. (WZZM) --  Switch is the company bringing a data center to Gaines Township after buying the old Steelcase Pyramid building last year.

Work is already underway, converting the site into a high-tech data storage facility. It is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

Switch's headquarters is based in Las Vegas. They also have a storage facility in Reno.

WZZM 13's Alex Shabad traveled to Las Vegas for a rare tour inside the facility, to learn more about the company and what we can expect once the Pyramid is converted.

Las Vegas is known as the Sin City. The differences between Las Vegas and West Michigan are no secret.
However, now WZZM 13 is shedding light on what the two have in common.

"We could have gone somewhere else, but we love West Michigan," said Adam Kramer, executive vice president of strategy for Switch. Switch executives told WZZM 13 that construction is already underway at the Pyramid building to transform it into a data center. "The great thing is we've already got over 70 West Michiganders on that jobsite working to get that data center up and running."

While touring the Switch facility, WZZM 13 was asked to leave cameras behind for security reasons. Inside the data center, there was special material to remove dirt or dust from our shoes, uniquely designed cooling systems to keep the right temperature, and an armed guard closely following the tour.

"We have the data and information for a thousand different global companies, and part of what they expect is a high level of security," said Kramer. 

Those clients range from small companies to eBay and Dreamworks, and even the State of Nevada. The University of Nevada Las Vegas is also plugged into Switch and seeing great benefits. 

"That made us one of the most connected universities in the world," said Len Jessup, president of the University of Nevada Las Vegas. "It makes grants and other kinds of opportunities available that we didn't have before; we just couldn't compete for them, we didn't have the computing firepower."

"One of the things we're very excited about in West Michigan is the ability to partner with institutions like Grand Valley State, Grand Rapids Community College," said Kramer.

Switch executives say the data center in West Michigan is meant to serve clients on the eastern portion of the U.S.

"Grand Rapids and the region is such a great place," said Kramer. "We know our clients are excited about coming there; we know we can get our clients excited about moving there."

The first step is completing the data center on the lower level of the Pyramid.  In addition to construction jobs, Switch will also be looking for IT and engineering professionals in the future.

"Everything from the air-conditioning and heating systems, to the IT infrastructure to security," said Kramer.

WZZM 13 asked Kramer what he sees for the West Michigan data center in the future.

"Longterm I see an expansion of the overall IT sector," he said. "I see the buildout overtime of a campus like the one you're at right now."

The Switch development in Gaines Township came together very quickly.  On November 2, the WZZM 13 Watchdog team first broke the story that a multi-billion-dollar project was likely coming to West Michigan.

Ten days later, WZZM 13 confirmed that a large project would be coming to Gaines Township with sources telling us it was a data center.

On November 16, Switch made an official announcement on plans to move into the Pyramid. However, that was dependent on a change in Michigan's tax laws, which lawmakers approved nearly 30 days later. The bill was signed by Governor Snyder on December 23.

Earlier: Touring Switch in Las Vegas offers a sneak peek of planned West Mich. facility

WZZM


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