Henderson allocates $2.2 million to move data center to Switch

The city of Henderson is switching things up — by moving its data systems to Switch.

The City Council approved a series of items Tuesday night to make the move possible, but the change has been in the works since May.

The city’s data center is about 13 years old, the age at which some primary systems start to fail, said the city’s chief information officer, Laura Fucci. About half of Henderson’s chillers, which keep machines cool, have failed, she said.

“We’re glad we’re not in summer,” Fucci said. “We’re still operating, but that’s the redundancy side of the chillers.”

Redundancy is important not only to ensure smooth everyday operations but for disaster preparedness.

As it worked on a disaster recovery strategy, the city became “keenly aware” there was no plan for the city’s systems should an earthquake or another disaster strike, Fucci said.

So, as Henderson started thinking about investing more money in its data center, it decided to take a look at outside options.

It didn’t hurt that one of the world’s top data centers is right in Henderson’s backyard. The city crunched the numbers, and it turned out that moving its data center to Switch would cost the same or less money.

“At that point, we thought, ‘Let’s make the move,’” Fucci said. “I would much rather have my equipment in a location where that’s their core competency. Maintaining a data center is not the city of Henderson’s core competency.”

Still, it’s a hefty sum of money to front: The city allocated $2.2 million to get through the move and the first year.

The initial cost to set up systems at Switch is $520,000, and it will cost $420,000 a year after that. But the city is “getting a better environment at Switch than we would our own data center,” Fucci said.

The city of Henderson joins Clark County, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Clark County School District and the state of Nevada in moving its systems to Switch.

It will pay Cox Communications $25,000 to lay fiber connecting the city’s systems with Switch’s SUPERNAP Data Center. The city also has to put forward $1.3 million in other startup costs like cabinets, cables and network equipment, which will reduce the city’s long-term costs, Fucci said.

There are a few more details to work out, but the plan is to switch the systems over the next year, she said.

Eventually, the city could locate a second system in Northern Nevada for extra redundancy, after Switch finishes its SUPERNAP Tahoe Reno Industrial Campus.

“If there was an earthquake that impacted the whole area, we would have the whole system redundant up there, meaning we could maintain police operations, continue to keep our historic record — all that data located somewhere, not impacted by being in the valley,” Fucci said. “That’s our long-term strategy.”