Ritter Communications of Jonesboro celebrated the first anniversary of its $8 million multiuser data storage and cloud facility Thursday, offering tours to dignitaries and business leaders and showing off what it calls the “first service-provider-grade data center to serve businesses in the mid-South."
The 8,544-SF tech center is a showpiece for Ritter, the region’s largest privately held fiber broadband company. Before it was built, northeast Arkansas businesses had to turn elsewhere for high-security and high-tech data service and infrastructure support, the company says.
Construction began in the spring of 2019, and the center was completed on time a year ago despite the pandemic. Camfil APC, Central Bank and St. Bernards Healthcare were among the center’s charter customers. The center was designed by Cushing Terrell (formerly known as CTA Architects Engineers) of Billings, Montana, and built by Nabholz Construction of Conway.
For security reasons, Ritter officials are cagey about the center’s location in Jonesboro. There is no signage, and the company doesn’t advertise its address.
Nevertheless, guests found their way to the center Thursday, and Ritter CEO Alan Morse told them the facility would have withstood last year’s destructive local tornado even if it had passed directly over the center.
“The destruction from last year’s EF3 tornado was a powerful reminder that critical technology infrastructure can be wiped out in an instant,” Morse said, according to a company news release. “Our new facility was designed from the ground up to withstand tornados, seismic events and cybersecurity threats and ensure our customers always have access to their critical business data and software. … Had the tornado passed over this facility, it would have been unaffected and continued to operate.”
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Copenhaver, who spoke at the event, called technology the future for Jonesboro. "Ritter Communications thought outside the box and built a technology stronghold right here that has set the foundation for our community’s growth,” he said, according to the release.
Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Young said he’d seen many other tech facilities, and “none hold a candle” to Ritter’s. “When you think of the term ‘state-of-the-art’ after your tour of the Ritter Data Center, you will have a picture in your head of what that looks like," he said.
Clients of the Data Technology Center can make the most of their technology investments and avoid costly upgrades by relying on the Ritter center’s highly secure carrier-class co-location data services. The data center is backed by a network operations center staffed constantly by systems engineers. Redundant generators with dual fuel sources are on site, along with advanced fire-suppression systems, diverse fiber entrance portals to protect against fiber cuts or outages, clean-room air filtration, and biometric building security.
Businesses can place their owned IT equipment within the data center or use virtual infrastructure provided by Ritter, or elect a combination of both. This provides flexibility and scale-up of IT computing and data storage/backup capabilities that could otherwise challenge companies’ internal IT departments. Center customers can choose to have their data transported to and from the facility using either dedicated Ritter fiber, another provider, or both.