To try and persuade reluctant organizations to embrace the cloud, Iron Mountain and LiveOffice are offering hybrid cloud data archiving services that let customers keep data onsite while sending copies offsite for the vendors to store.
Iron Mountain and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. launched the medical images service in early 2008, installing a gateway server at the customer site to move data from PACs (picture archiving and communication system) to Iron Mountain's data center in Pennsylvania and then replicating the data to a second Iron Mountain data center in Missouri.
Now, Iron Mountain is offering the choice of two additional hybrid cloud data archiving options that include disk capacity added to the gateway appliance at the customer site. One new hybrid version of the service lets customers store one copy on-site and one off-site. The other is set up for one copy on-site and two copies off-site.
There are two reasons customers and prospects of the Digital Records Center for Medical Images have asked for hybrid cloud services, according to Ken Rubin, senior vice president of digital healthcare solutions at Iron Mountain Digital. One is that medical images such as those used in cardiology, are large files that are difficult to pull back and forth across a wide-area network (WAN). "Some hospitals have a 100 megabit pipe and they're fine — it depends on their SLAs internally," he said.
The other, Rubin claims, is "cultural bias. They've always kept their primary copy on-site and DR copy off-site, so even if they could save 25% to 60%, there's a human psychology element in there."
This has also been the finding of recent analyst surveys by Forrester Research and TheInfoPro (TIP), which garnered a tepid response from enterprise data storage users about their plans to look into cloud data storage. TIP's Wave 12 storage study found cloud data storage ranked below virtual tape libraries (VTL) on enterprise customers' wish lists.
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Dennis Boucher, IT team leader for Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, Vt., said his company plans to keep one copy of images on-site and one copy off-site when it starts serving approximately 5 TB of image data out of the Iron Mountain gateway appliance. "Even if we expanded the bandwidth of our [WAN], we're in a rural area," he said. "If we lose our connection, with cloud storage being so new, we might lose access to images." Boucher said ice storms that take out power and cable lines are a frequent worry in rural Vermont.
"Organizations are not just going to jump into the cloud and hand over all their data, especially ultra-conservative ones like healthcare," said Brian Babineau, a senior consulting analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "There will be a few that go all out, but most will want to have some data on premises and other data off-site."
Iron Mountain's Rubin said he expects a wholesale migration to the cloud eventually. "This is an incremental step," he said of the hybrid service offerings.
LiveOffice supports on-premise SharePoint, social media archiving in cloud
Cloud-based email archiver LiveOffice is expanding its hybrid offerings by supporting a connection between its cloud and customers' on-premise SharePoint data repositories. LiveOffice claims to be first in the market to support cloud archiving for the increasingly popular Microsoft collaboration application. LiveOffice will store and index SharePoint content in the same cloud archive it uses for email.
LiveOffice also has a partnership with Mimosa Systems, recently acquired by Iron Mountain Digital. Mimosa archives SharePoint along with email. But outside of that partnership, LiveOffice has always offered its own data capture mechanism on-premise as well.
Also with this release, LiveOffice is looking to respond to recent guidance from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) that financial services firms should archive images of public websites where their companies do business. These companies can now use LiveOffice to make snapshots of public websites like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and store them in the cloud in case of a dispute.
Both new archiving services are available immediately. Pricing is based on the number of customer sites and servers, as well as the amount of data stored in the cloud.