C Spire has signed an agreement to provide Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company with data center services to support its enhanced business continuity program.
"Since 1946, our mission has not changed. Our employees and 3,800 agents are committed to meeting the financial service needs of families across the Southeast with superior products and services," said Charles Allen, Vice President and CTO of Jackson-based Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company. "This means investing to ensure that in times of greatest need, our customers can rely on us to continue to provide the highest quality services and support without interruption by the most advanced technology and information services infrastructure."
Allen said key factors in Southern Farm Bureau’s choice of C Spire were the new center’s geographical proximity to its primary data operations, the high-end certified rating of the center, being a single provider including fiber connectivity and being a Mississippi company with locally-based teams and a true commitment to a high level of customer service.
The 23,800 square foot center is located on a 6.5 acre site at the sprawling Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park in Starkville, Mississippi. C Spire began site excavation, grading and foundation work in November and plans to complete construction on the initial phase in November 2014, when Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company and other firms are expected to begin using the center.
When it opens, the center will be one of only 52 in the U.S. with a Tier 3 or 4 rating, the highest in the industry based on data center certifications by the Uptime Institute. Most of the centers in the two top-tier categories nationwide are owned and operated solely by large private businesses or government agencies and used only for internal operations. C Spire’s Tier 3-plus facility will be the premiere data center in the Southeast with ample commercial space available for businesses and government agencies and the only one in its class and capability within 250 miles of its location.
"The data center industry and computing solutions have grown and advanced at a staggering pace. Unfortunately, the industry has also grown further and further away from its customers," said Kevin Hankins, COO for C Spire. "We are changing that. Our center and the solutions it houses will be world class. What’s more important is that we will know our customers intimately, we will be highly flexible in tailoring services to meet their needs and the level of attention and support they will receive will be unmatched. This combination of value and service doesn’t exist elsewhere."
Local officials in Starkville and Oktibbeha County, who provided tax incentives to support the project, said construction and operation of the facility is the largest private sector investment in the region’s history. "This significant private sector technology infrastructure investment by a great Mississippi company will help us build a strong economic future for this region," said Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman.
Along with its location in a low-risk geographic zone, the center boasts direct access to C Spire’s ring-protected fiber optic network and will be managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year by the company’s locally-based, award-winning IT staff. C Spire has been named to InformationWeek 500’s top technology innovators list for two years in row.
Other services C Spire plans to offer at the center include colocation, managed hosting, computing, storage, disaster recovery, enterprise cloud services, network and connectivity. In addition, the center will feature the latest security infrastructure, complete disaster contingency plans, a C Spire solutions center and management office and conference room space for traveling client IT staff.
Hankins said C Spire will sell a comprehensive suite of data center services through its C Spire Business Solutions unit, which is fully staffed with account management and technical support teams who provide "world-class" customer service. "At C Spire, we always put the customer first. Our name – C Spire – literally means ‘customer inspired,’" he said, adding that many enterprise data customers prefer locally-based service options. "Our clients will enjoy a level of service and partnering that is unmatched in the industry."
General contractor for the data center project is Brasfield and Gorrie, LLC of Birmingham. Architects are Syska Hennessy Group, Inc. of Atlanta, Piper O’Brien Herr of Alpharetta, Georgia and Dale Partners in Jackson, Mississippi. Civil engineering services for the center will be provided by Pritchard Engineering in Starkville, Mississippi.
C Spire currently operates two other data centers in Mississippi – one in Ridgeland and the other in downtown Jackson.