The APIs, which contain proprietary instructions as well as instructions based on the Representational State Transfer (REST) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) standards, are similar to the APIs made available by other cloud storage service providers such as Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) and EMC Corp.'s Atmos OnLine. Storage accessed through such APIs is often referred to as object-based storage, since it organizes data objects rather than using a hierarchical file system structure to store blocks of data on disk. Proponents of object-based storage argue that it's more scalable and can allow for richer metadata than traditional file systems.
In Iron Mountain's case, it's also making CIFS and NFS interfaces available into the back-end cloud storage. Daniel Stevenson, director of partner marketing at Iron Mountain Digital, said while the object-based interface is common to services like Amazon's S3, Iron Mountain is after a slightly higher-end customer than S3 and other public cloud storage service providers. "Our target audience is corporate users," he said.
While the APIs have been open to early adopters for several months, today marks the first public announcement of the developer program.
One of the first early adopters is Rescentris Inc., a Columbus, Ohio-based biopharmaceutical workflow software vendor. According to Jeff Spitzner, president and chief science officer, most labs and research centers developing pharmaceutical compounds keep notes on paper, often bundling paper notebooks and sending them to records management service providers like Iron Mountain's physical records business for safekeeping.
Rescentris' application, CERF, "is like SharePoint for scientists," Spitzner said. CERF end users will have the choice of using the Iron Mountain integration to archive lab records on a daily business or all at once when a project is finished. Because scientists are required by the Food and Drug Administration to keep meticulous records, even those using paper notebooks must have their notes validated by a witness on a daily basis. Having electronic records stored by a service provider can also provide that validation, according to Spitzner. "Storing records digitally also makes them more searchable, and more adaptable for future use," he said.
Iron Mountain has not publicly disclosed pricing for this or for its other cloud storage data archiving services, Virtual File Store (VFS) and the Digital Records Center for Medical Images. However, based on the private-cloud level of redundancy and security it maintains, the offering is almost certain to be more expensive than the $0.25-per-GB-or-less offerings from Amazon's S3 and Nirvanix's CloudNAS, for example.
"It's more expensive than S3, but we get a bulk rate which we offer to our users and feel they'll accept because of the level of service and security they get, as well as the ease of use," Spitzner said. Rescentris will serve as the conduit between its end users and Iron Mountain so customers don't have to contract separately with the two vendors, said he added.
Jeff Boles, a senior analyst and director, validation services at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group, said he's looking forward to seeing further integration between this developer program and Iron Mountain's more advanced data classification IP. "Right now they have pretty cool searchable metadata stuff, which when combined with more of their services, may make their cloud storage a killer competitor for all of the traditional enterprise archiving solutions," he said.