With virtually every vendor on the planet jumping on the cloud computing bandwagon, sometimes it's difficult to tell whether a service is really cloud or simply a pre-existing offering that has the cloud label slapped on it.
Of course, there's no cloud certification board, no cloud test that a vendor has to pass. So, at this point, it's pretty much anybody's guess as to what constitutes a cloud-based service and what doesn't.
Iron Mountain Digital recently launched a new storage offering called Virtual File Store, which Iron Mountain calls "the industry's first cloud-based archiving solution." Virtual File Store is targeted at inactive data, according to Iron Mountain.
Bruns-Pak, a New Jersey engineering firm that designs and builds data centers, uses the Virtual File Store service. Elliott Townsend, manager of information services for the 60-employee company, says the definition of cloud computing is not something he's all that focused on. All he knows is that Virtual File Store is saving him $5,000 a month.
Bruns-Pak is a longtime Iron Mountain customer. It uses Iron Mountain's Live Vault to provide critical backup services and data protection for active data. In the engineering world, projects can last up to two years, so data on a specific project is constantly being backed up over a long period of time.
But once the project is completed, Bruns-Pak might have gigabytes of data sitting on a server. Virtual File Store allows Bruns-Pak to put backed-up data from completed projects into "cold storage" at a fraction of the cost of Live Vault.
Bruns-Pak has cut daily backups from more than half a terabyte to approximately 200GB, and the cost is about one-tenth of the cost of the Live Vault service. Deployment was a breeze. Iron Mountain installed hardware to connect with its storage grid and that was about it, Townsend says.
As with other cloud customers, Bruns-Pak is no stranger to offsite services. The company uses Rackspace to host its e-mail.
Townsend says the issue for him was weighing the cost savings vs. "the comfort level for management." The Rackspace experience, which has been extremely positive, helped create that level of comfort.
As to whether the Iron Mountain service qualifies as a cloud-based offering, Steve Blumenau, vice president of digital archiving technology for Iron Mountain, says any service that an enterprise plugs into over the Internet is cloud.
Iron Mountain has been offering backup services over the Internet for nearly 14 years. The services weren't called cloud, because the term wasn't being used back then. But he says Virtual File Store certainly qualifies – it's a service, it's over the Internet, it can scale up and down, and customers pay per usage.
He adds that when it comes to security, Iron Mountain has a history of protecting both physical and digital data, from its underground data centers protected by armed guards to its strict encryption policies. "We're the most audited company in the world," Blumenau adds.