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No More Iron in the Cloud

Iron Mountain, the well known information management company, is exiting the cloud storage business

Iron Mountain, the well known information management company, is exiting the cloud storage business. The company announced yesterday that they will be phasing out their basic cloud storage services by 2013. Iron Mountain isn’t the first provider to turn its back on the cloud just as the space is getting off of the ground; but it is probably the most high profile company to exit this business.

I’ve always liked Iron Mountain because the name makes me think of the Hobbit (remember Dain of the Iron Hills?) In fact I think that Iron Mountain is one of the all time great company names, and their marketing group deserves credit for leveraging this to build a very strong brand around what is arguably a pretty dull and conventional service—that of records management. The extension of this brand into the cloud seemed obvious and fitting, so at first blush its disappointing that they’ve made a decision to reverse course.

In reality though, it seems that Iron Mountain is performing more of a realignment of its cloud strategy. Simple cloud-based storage is just not very hard to do, and so the field is rapidly becoming as crowded as the battle of five armies. Differentiation is the key to great brands, and its hard to standout from S3 or Carbonite or Mozy or any of the dozens of providers peddling mass storage services in the cloud. Iron Mountain seemed to recognize that their brand could be better served—that is, both leveraged and protected—by ducking out of the commodity bazaar and moving up the street to provide a more specialized and business-aligned service.

This is all very interesting because over the next few years we will see that brand—that most mysterious response in the consumer’s mind—is going to be the deciding factor that makes or breaks a cloud provider’s success. And as Amazon has demonstrated, cloud branding can come out of the most unlikely places.


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More Stories By Scott Morrison

K. Scott Morrison is the Chief Technology Officer and Chief Architect at Layer 7 Technologies, where he is leading a team developing the next generation of security infrastructure for cloud computing and SOA. An architect and developer of highly scalable, enterprise systems for over 20 years, Scott has extensive experience across industry sectors as diverse as health, travel and transportation, and financial services. He has been a Director of Architecture and Technology at Infowave Software, a leading maker of wireless security and acceleration software for mobile devices, and was a senior architect at IBM. Before shifting to the private sector, Scott was with the world-renowned medical research program of the University of British Columbia, studying neurodegenerative disorders using medical imaging technology.

Scott is a dynamic, entertaining and highly sought-after speaker. His quotes appear regularly in the media, from the New York Times, to the Huffington Post and the Register. Scott has published over 50 book chapters, magazine articles, and papers in medical, physics, and engineering journals. His work has been acknowledged in the New England Journal of Medicine, and he has published in journals as diverse as the IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow, and Neurology. He is the co-author of the graduate text Cloud Computing, Principles, Systems and Applications published by Springer, and is on the editorial board of Springer’s new Journal of Cloud Computing Advances, Systems and Applications (JoCCASA). He co-authored both Java Web Services Unleashed and Professional JMS. Scott is an editor of the WS-I Basic Security Profile (BSP), and is co-author of the original WS-Federation specification. He is a recent co-author of the Cloud Security Alliance’s Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing, and an author of that organization’s Top Threats to Cloud Computing research. Scott was recently a featured speaker for the Privacy Commission of Canada’s public consultation into the privacy implications of cloud computing. He has even lent his expertise to the film and television industry, consulting on a number of features including the X-Files. Scott’s current interests are in cloud computing, Web services security, enterprise architecture and secure mobile computing—and of course, his wife and two great kids.

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