BY: JESSICA GUTMAN

SH Data Technologies held an official groundbreaking ceremony for Knoxville’s first Tier III data center on Jan. 29. The facility will be constructed at the site of the former Fort Hill building at 901 East Summit Hill Ave.

Butch Smith, founder of Smith & Hammaker and now chief executive officer of SH Data Technologies, aims to create a regional anchor for businesses with big data needs, from data storage and security to virtualization.

“This facility will be the cornerstone of a broader strategy to provide technology solutions with unlimited scale,” said Smith. “This data center will be Knoxville’s first Tier III data center and will attract businesses from other regional cities outside of Knoxville to use our technology to manage, scale and protect their highest priority data.

“The data center is the first step, but we will also offer disaster recovery, technology integration, and managed-cloud services under the SH Data Technologies brand.”

Data centers are categorized on a tier scale, from I to IV, based on power, reliability and availability. The Fort will be Knoxville’s first Tier III data center and will compete with similar facilities in Atlanta and Chicago, among others.

In addition to the data security, the company will also offer network and hosting services through connectivity providers such as AT&T. The first phase of the data center will include a restoration of the Fort Hill building.

The Fort will consist of 33,000 sq. ft. of commercial office space and 8,000 sq. ft. for the data center. Subsequent phases of the project include four separate data facilities, which will each add an additional 10,000 sq. ft.

SH Data Technologies purchased the property in 2014 and has been working with the Knoxville Chamber, Knoxville Utilities Board and Tennessee Valley Authority to finalize the project in order to attract businesses from outside the community.

“Besides being a huge economic development win, in and of itself, The Fort will be an asset to add to the list of our region’s technology infrastructure,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development for the Knoxville Chamber. “I’m confident the data center will help get us on the radar of new business location opportunities from companies considering relocations or expansions.”

Photo: (from left) County Commissioner Brad Anders, SH Data Technologies President Frank Hutchinson, County Commissioner Evelyn Gill, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, SH Data Technologies CEO Butch Smith, City Council Member George Wallace, City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, City Council Member Gwen McKenzie, Knoxville Utilities Board CEO Mintha Roach, City Council Member Andrew Roberto and County Commissioner Carson Dailey break ground on The Fort, Knoxville’s first Tier III data center.