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Iron Mountain Opens Underground Data Center to All

The Pennsylvania site will provide data center space and related services, and customers will be able to take advantage of the company's retail colocation offering.

Taking the business in a new direction, Iron Mountain has begun formally making its vast underground data center space in Boyers, Pa., available for wholesale and retail colocation data centers. Iron Mountain has done this for select enterprise and government clients over the years but has never offered a generally available service.

Iron Mountain's Boyers facility is located 220 feet underground in a former limestone mine. The site will pair access to data center space there with a suite of data center-related services, including engineering and design, development and construction, and ongoing operations and management. Customers also have the option of tapping Iron Mountain's retail colocation offering, in which they'll lease space in a shared data center environment.

The wholesale and colocation services put Iron Mountain in direct competition with other wholesale and colocation data center vendors, such as Digital Realty Trust and CoreSite. The company hopes to differentiate itself with related services, including data center migration, installation and technical support and secure data transmission.

Michelle Bailey, VP of data centers for 451 Research, says the company's ongoing transition from moving and securing physical information assets via trucks to moving and securing digital assets makes the move into offering wholesale and colocation data center services a logical one.

"They're getting very specific around what they think is the future of the business," says Bailey. "They already have a lot of the capability, and it's a growth area. They have a great brand around being able to track digital assets, and they have great government clearance because of existing businesses. It makes a lot of sense for them to get into the space."

Bailey also notes that because the company is attempting to become a real estate investment trust due to its vast real estate holdings, filling its Boyers location with data center facilities is a smart move, as REITs must derive at least 75% of their profits from renting out property. It also could bring significant tax advantages, as REITs must distribute 90% of their taxable earnings to shareholders in the form of dividends, effectively shifting the tax burden to the shareholders.

Digital Realty Trust and CoreSite both already have REIT status.

The new services also make sense as a replacement for several unprofitable software businesses Iron Mountain sold to Autonomy Corp. two years ago.

Iron Mountain will target both existing customers of the company's legacy services, such as storage management and tape vaulting, as well as large companies for whom security concerns have prevented them from migrating IT assets to cloud-based services. The company hopes those fears can be alleviated by combining the use of cloud services with storing the data in an Iron Mountain-managed data center.

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