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Iron Mountain is building its cloud storage business back up, leaning on a partnership with Dell EMC's Virtustream enterprise cloud technology.
The data protection company this week launched its Iron Cloud service hosted in the company's underground data centers. Iron Cloud is Iron Mountain's first step in developing a data management and orchestration platform similar to what competitors Commvault and Veritas Technologies are building.
Iron Mountain was one of the early cloud providers with its Virtual File Store and Archive Service Platform, but the Iron Mountain cloud storage services ended in 2011 because of modest customer adoption.
The data protection vendor re-entered the cloud market in 2016 with its Iron Mountain Cloud Archive service that is based on Dell EMC's Elastic Cloud Storage object storage platform for long-term data retention.
Iron Mountain cloud storage marks strategic direction
Iron Cloud is based on technology from Virtustream, the public cloud built for enterprises that was acquired by EMC in 2015.
The Virtustream framework delivers Iron Mountain cloud storage services, including replication and data tiering, using Dell EMC Data Domain appliances. Iron Cloud will be built out to provide end-to-end disaster recovery, compliance, data analytics and data federation.
"In the next four to five years, we will go deeper into these areas," said Eli Almog, senior vice president at Iron Mountain and CTO for its data management business. "We are moving into a more strategic direction. This is a full-scale implementation where the goal is to leverage our assets and customers that we have today."
Almog said the Iron Mountain Cloud Archive currently has 35 customers.
Iron Mountain's history is rooted in physical storage, mainly the transferring of physical tape and disk storage from customers' sites to its underground data center facilities. The company's underground data center based in Boyers, Pa., features perimeter security, armed-guard checkpoints, metal detectors, mantraps, biometric access controls and cameras for production data, backup and data retention.
Iron Cloud offers the choice to store data on block storage for customers that have high-speed connectivity, and object storage for customers that want a cheaper option. The object storage is based on the Amazon Simple Storage Service API.
"The object storage is for secondary data," Almog said. "Customers are willing to pay only so much for that. Most of them use object storage for the price."
Laura DuBoisIDC vice president, on Iron Mountain cloud storage services
Iron Mountain also said it would open a new data center built on 60 acres of land in Virginia in two months. The company already has data centers in Denver, Kansas City and Northborough, Mass., as well as its Boyers facility.
Iron Mountain cloud storage includes shuttle services, in which customers can back up data on an appliance that is then shipped to the vendor to be stored in the cloud. The initial appliance will be used for full backups, and then the incremental backups can be done via the cloud.
'Excellence' in operations, data management
Laura DuBois, vice president of IDC's enterprise storage, server and system infrastructure software research, said one area that distinguishes Iron Mountain cloud storage from rival providers is its strong relationship with customers that was forged from its physical storage business model.
"What they do is more involved in customer operations," she said. "They are closer to customers' line of business than those that just manage IT. They have a stronger relationship with the customers that they already have. I don't dismiss that level of trust. They are very trusted in the recovery business. That is not to be overlooked.
"Right now, people are in and out of the cloud business because of the security breaches that are occurring," she said.
DuBois said Iron Mountain previously attempted to create the technology and the business for a cloud offering.
"I think they bit off more than they could chew," she said. "Now, they are doing [technology] with partnerships. Their excellence is in operations and in data management."
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