Iron Mountain - well-known for storing paper records and tape cartridges in secured holes in the ground - has started up an underground cloud-based Virtual File Service.
The cloud is truly subterranean, being based on an underground data centre in the USA.
Calling it "the industry's first enterprise solution (sic) for cloud-based file archiving," Mountain says that its VFS is for static data files and that it's cheaper to store in its vaults than keep stuff on your own. The benefits are the classic ones of moving CAPEX costs to OPEX, assurance of meeting compliance, and regulatory needs. WORM facilities are available, scalability spike coverage, and lower costs. It has a customer, BRUNS-PAK, talking of an "extremely competitive cost."
Storage consultancy ESG reckons VFS facilitates compliance with SEC 17a-4, which deals with the retention of business records. Read about this here (PDF).
The VFS service provides an on-site appliance that acts like a file server and uses CIFS and NFS protocols, as does Nirvanix' cloud service. Files stored on the appliance are sent via a virtual private network link to an Iron Mountain data center whose contents are continuously replicated to a second data centre.
Iron Mountain says you can "move files from primary storage to the VFS appliance using customer-created scripts or off-the-shelf products. Alternatively, you can use the VFS appliance as the disk target for an off-the-shelf backup program. You can also incorporate the VFS service into existing HSM or File Virtualization deployment, using in-house archiving products."
Iron Mountain has a partnership with F5, involving F5's ARX file virtualization products, which customers can use to automate movement between primary file shares and VFS Appliance file shares under a single ARX namespace.
Iron Mountain also says customers can "archive data at LAN speed (versus WAN) with the VFS Data Shuttle service." What this actually means is that an initial file load can be accomplished by physically transporting encrypted disk media to the Iron Mountain site if the amount of data is huge.
The thing about an enterprise-class cloud file store - apart from good retention period policies and compliance features - is that it should never go down and never, ever lose files. As Iron Mountain has lost quite a few tapes whilst trucking them to/from customer sites in its time: GE Money in January 2008 with 650,00 customer records lost; Long Island Railroad employee data in April 6, 2006; Time Warner in April, 2005 with 40 tapes lost; and Los Angeles-based City National Bank also in 2005. You might want to have cast iron service level agreements in place before taking on this hole-in-the-ground cloud file storage service. ®