Iron Mountain buys Accutrac for records management

Continuing its effort to reinvent itself as an online backup and records management company, Iron Mountain announces its second acquisition in this market in as many months.

Iron Mountain Inc., once known primarily for its tape shipping business, has been busy in recent months reinventing itself as an online backup and records management company. The latest in its string of acquisitions and partnerships is a records management services provider based in Irvine, Calif., called Accutrac Software Inc., for an undisclosed sum.

Accutrac's client-based software, Accutrac XE, performs lifecycle management of records and will manage records at Iron Mountain, as well as customer sites, according to a company press release. Automation tools within the software include indexing and classification; location tracking; discovery, search, query and filtering tools; and retention management, legal holds, archiving and disposition/destruction reporting.

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Iron Mountain is far from alone among storage companies responding to the need for better records management in light of e-discovery and data compliance issues. EMC Corp. acquired Documentum in 2003. CA Inc. acquired records management player MDY Group International Inc. last June. Xiotech Corp. reinvented itself with a compliance focus, re-emerging in August following its acquisition of Daticon Inc. for $30 million in January. For its part, Xiotech has announced that it is winning deals against Iron Mountain, in particular in the e-discovery space.

Iron Mountain began stepping up its focus on records management in March when it partnered with managed messaging service provider MessageOne Inc. for email archiving and has continued with the acquisition of Middlebury, Conn.-based archiving and records management outsourcer ArchivesOne Inc. in May.

ArchivesOne deals primarily with inactive physical records, according to Matt Kivlin, director of product marketing, records management solutions for Iron Mountain. Accutrac deals with both active and inactive physical records, which Kivlin said was the primary driver of the acquisition, but its software also manages electronic records including email, office documents and images, which Kivlin said Iron Mountain also has plans to integrate.

While Iron Mountain plans to continue "business as usual" for the physical records side of the business, it's less clear on how the integration into its digital services businesses will work. "It's very early into the acquisition -- the next quarter or so we'll have a better picture as to how it will help us unify storage management for electronic records." Ultimately, Kivlin said, Iron Mountain is envisioning a unified service for not only multiple kinds of electronic records, but for managing both physical and electronic records together.

According to Stephanie Balaouras, senior analyst with Forrester Research Inc., the trend is springing from a changing role for records management and storage in enterprise environments. "Records management and enterprise content management are morphing into a concept that Forrester calls retention management -- managing all records, as well as content (email, files etc.), from a single pane of glass where retention policies are set."

With the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, according to Vivian Tero, senior research analyst for compliance infrastructure at IDC, users need an integrated view of records, both active and inactive, and both on site and off site. This is the capability Accutrac's software will add to Iron Mountain's offering, she said. "Iron Mountain needs to figure out how to integrate their storage and records management services and how to fold them in to their digital services business -- it's critical they keep key people in management and research and development."

If that integration is successful, Tero predicted that it will find a market at the very high end, where very large companies facing many lawsuits and compliance with multiple industry regulations are beginning to demand that records management, email archiving, file archiving and storage systems or services become one and the same. "Most archiving and compliance systems aren't integrated that way yet," Tero said. "But the new e-discovery rules require an integrated view so users know how to access all their information for legal and compliance requests."

Balaouras said managed services offerings could also be appealing at the other end of the market for small businesses looking for someone to take the burden of compliance archiving off the hands of a small IT staff. "If you're a significantly large enterprise, you'll attempt to do this yourself, but for small enterprises, and small and medium businesses, I think online services are not only less complex from a deployment point of view, but you also have the peace of mind of transferring at least some of the risk of adequately storing this critical information to the service provider."

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