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Q&A: Iron Mountain Digital president talks off-site storage

Once you go 10 or 15 feet below the surface of the Earth, you're at 58 degrees

By Jon Brodkin
July 25, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Network World - John Clancy is the president of Iron Mountain Digital, the arm of Iron Mountain that oversees storage services, including remote archiving accessed by customers over the Web. Clancy came on board from Connected Corp. after it was acquired by Iron Mountain in 2004, and became president of the Digital business unit in January 2007. Clancy has overseen several acquisitions, including a $158 million purchase last October of Stratify Inc., which sells e-discovery services in the legal market. Clancy spoke with Network World this week at Iron Mountain Digital's office in Southboro, Mass.

Describe your off-site archiving strategy.

We call it storage as a service. We're interested in technologies that do three things: capturing data, technologies that help store and protect data, and thirdly, where Stratify helps quite a bit, is making that data useful. We protect more data on a hosted basis than any company in the world. But the game will really be won over the next decade by making that technology useful, and Stratify does just that.

What does a typical customer use your service for?

Imagine a large account, all their PCs are now backed up each and every day and sent to our data center. They just have to have an agent on their PC, and just set and forget. There's zero burden on IT. (Compare storage products.)

Where do you store customer data?

We've got two data centers here in the U.S. One is in Boyers, Pa. [Literally 220 feet below the Earth's surface, the data center became Iron Mountain property with the 1998 acquisition of National Underground Storage]. The other is in Kansas City. We have data centers in Toronto, Montreal, London and Belgium.

Most data centers are about the same. They're loud, lots of fans going, a little cold. We love to take customers out to our data center in Pennsylvania. There are over 2,000 employees that go into our National Underground every day, many of which are government employees [storing information there].

Any innovative technologies in the National Underground?

Maybe the most interesting isn't perhaps that innovative, but it makes quite a bit of difference. Once you go 10 or 15 feet below the surface, you're at 58 degrees. We actually have natural cooling inside these data centers.

We also have engineers that literally work on how best to work in a cave. These are all limestone mines. They've found ways to dig inside the limestone to capitalize on the natural flow of air. It's a nice advantage for us in terms of power and cooling and ultimately one we can scale with. We don't have the same power consumption needs as a typical data center.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.
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