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Iron Mountain digitizes documents to bolster security

A new service from Iron Mountain lets customers use secure Web sites to access digital images of physical documents, eliminating the need to transport the information by truck.

As part of a push to expand its digital storage business, Iron Mountain Inc. is unveiling a Digital Record Center for Images (DRCI) service that allows paper records storage customers to retrieve archived documents digitally.

The Software as a Service (SaaS) uses IBM's Content Manager on Demand to digitize and deliver paper records via the Web. Iron Mountain only scans and produces records requested for retrieval. This cuts down costs, according to Chris Churchill, Iron Mountain vice president of document management solutions. Pricing begins at $800 a month and varies according to the amount of documents stored and retrieved.

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This service is aimed at companies storing sensitive documents, such as medical charts, mortgage agreements, human resources records and sales contracts. Iron Mountain's reputation has taken a hit in recent years because of the loss of similarly sensitive information on backup tapes transported on trucks.

Iron Mountain solutions architect Tim West said DRCI will also bolster the company's security by using its hosted shared archive to deliver document images on request via secure FTP or secure HTTP. This process eliminates the transfer of paper records by truck when they're requested.

"Assuming the data is fully secured during transmission to avoid eavesdropping, this is a great step forward in reducing the amount of physical media and material floating, flying or being driven around with the potential for loss or theft," StorageIO founder Greg Schulz wrote in an email to "The key is making sure that the data being transmitted is secure, otherwise, you would just be moving the problem and security risk."

According to an Iron Mountain spokesperson, a user's content is validated against a predetermined configuration during the ingestion process to ensure that the right data is archived. Incorrect data will fail the validation process and be moved to a Review queue. Each user also has a unique database that ensures isolation of metadata in the DRCI.

Iron Mountain said that 18 customers have signed on for DRCI, including a uniform company using it for proof-of-delivery images and human resources companies storing I-9 forms. According to Churchill, Iron Mountain plans to keep DRCI as a hybrid paper/digital service for the foreseeable future because the conversion of documents in most industries is slow. "In the mortgage industry they predict it will go entirely electronic, but it will be 10 to 15 years," he said.

But other segments of the market are going digital faster than that, according to IDC analyst Laura DuBois. "Iron Mountain has a great physical footprint, and this is a complement to that, but they're still focused more on the physical side than on digital records management," she said.

DuBois said that having Iron Mountain assume labor and costs for converting paper to digital records might be the most cost-effective approach for customers, especially since the company can digitize records on demand instead of migrating an entire archive at once.

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