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IronMountain Buys Archive Appliance Maker, But The Future Is Online

IronMountain announced today that it will pay $112 million for Mimosa Systems, which makes archiving appliances for e-mail, SharePoint and files. The purchase gives IM Digital both a premises archiving product as well as a SaaS-based e-mail archiving service. The SaaS archiving offering uses technology from Mimecast, a UK-based company.

IronMountain announced today that it will pay $112 million for Mimosa Systems, which makes archiving appliances for e-mail, SharePoint and files. The purchase gives IM Digital both a premises archiving product as well as a SaaS-based e-mail archiving service. The SaaS archiving offering uses technology from Mimecast, a UK-based company.

In the short term, the move lets Iron Mountain Digital go after customers--particularly in the mid-market where Mimosa was successful--who are uncomfortable with cloud-based archiving services. Iron Mountain will go head to head with vendors such as Barracuda Networks, which offers a range of archiving appliances, and software vendors such as Symantec, CA and EMC. EMC rebooted its own archiving strategy last spring.

In the long term, I wonder if Iron Mountain Digital is paving the way for a hybrid offering that combines a premises system and a cloud archive. In this vision, customers who aren't ready for a full cloud service can keep X Tbytes in their own racks, while the rest of it moves up to the provider's data centers. Note that this is only speculation on my part.

I'm speculating because I think the real growth in e-mail archiving will come from services rather than appliances or software. Organizations are growing more comfortable with moving applications and storage off site, and e-mail archiving is a no-brainer because the benefits are compelling. Users get a virtually unlimited inbox, IT doesn't have to worry about adding more storage and the business gets predictable expenses. Because the mail is off site, organizations enjoy a very basic form of disaster recovery for e-mail.

I'm not predicting the death of archiving appliances or software. There will always be companies that don't want messages going off-site for a variety of reasons, including security and compliance. In fact, Kroll Ontrack announced in January new e-mail archiving software with a strong e-discovery angle. The software is aimed at companies in highly litigious industries. But I think the real market growth exists in archiving services, and over the long term, pure-play software and appliance vendors will be forced to chase smaller and smaller pieces of the pie. That's why I'm speculating about a hybrid approach for Iron Mountain--it would make sense for the company to buy into the appliance market if it helps them transition customers to the cloud service over the long term.

Drew is formerly editor of Network Computing and currently director of content and community for Interop. View Full Bio
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