Inside the Vault: Ensuring Security in Transit

Topics: Data Archive | Offsite Tape Vaulting

What seems like an ordinary office building from the outside is far from ordinary on the inside. Continue your tour inside one of Iron Mountain’s many vaults with part three of this podcast series. In this final entry, go behind the scenes to see how tape and other storage media are securely transported to Iron Mountain facilities.

Listen to Inside the Vault: How Iron Mountain Protects Your Data

Listen to Inside the Vault: Making Secure Tape Storage and Retrieval Possible


Website summary blurb: When Iron Mountain customers need their critical data, the timing isn’t always convenient. Iron Mountain drivers deliver at all hours of the day and night, over long distances and sometimes in extreme weather conditions. In this podcast, Iron Mountain supervisors and drivers share some of their most memorable stories.

Sound Effect: [Truck driving away]

Announcer: The storage vault may be the most iconic feature of Iron Mountain the company, but the drivers are the heart and soul of the organization. They’re the first line of contact with customers, and the ones who are most often called upon to go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the customer has its critical data in hand precisely when needed.

David Belair: “Right now we have 15 vans . We dispatch between nine and 11 routes throughout the week. So it’s pretty busy here. Announcer: That’s David Belair

David Belair: “Transportation coordinator…I coordinate the daily routing as far as road net and getting any orders put together for the drivers, handling special deliveries for emergency backup and recovery.”

Paul Gillin: “Is it pretty much a 9-to-5 thing or do you do off-hours as well?”

David: “This is 24/7/365…Servers and various IT departments run their operations all night long. If they need something for a backup or emergency, we’re able to deliver it.”

Announcer: That usually isn’t just a trip around the block. Sometimes it’s a whole lot more.

David Belair: “Me and another driver had to fly out to North Carolina, pick up a vehicle and drive to Irving, Texas and pick up about 180 cases that this customer needed moved back to North Carolina. We drove to Birmingham, Alabama and met another team that drove them on to North Carolina.”

Paul Gillin: “And you can’t really plan for that.”

David Belair: “No, it came up and that’s what we did..”

Announcer: It’d be easier for the company to contract with third-party delivery vendors to take care of overnight and long-distance jobs, but that wouldn’t be consistent with the Iron Mountain promise. The company has rigorous processes in place for tracking the precise location of each asset it handles on behalf of its customers.
For example, when restoring a tape requires special handling, and the data restoration vendor is in New York City…

John Antista: “We’ll drive it down. We don’t want to send it by any other service, so we’ll send a courier from here and follow all the exact same processes for chain of custody, scan point, customer authorizing and delivery.”

Announcer: Customers have the option of authorizing the use of third-party services in very remote areas, but in doing so they give up more than just hands-on control. With Iron Mountain…

John Antista: “You get the climate control in the vehicle, the courier who’s been trained, the Iron Mountain benefits. If you ship something overnight and it’s lost, it’s lost.”

Announcer: There’s no landing strip behind the vault, but air delivery is an option when time is critical.

John Antista: “We have done some plane moves. A couple of years ago we had to meet a chartered jet on the runway at a smaller airport… They gave it to an authorized user on a plane.”

Announcer: Or sometimes the customer just wants an Iron Mountain employee to accompany their media.

Steve Garcia: “We have sent employees to Japan.”

Announcer: From the eastern U.S.

John Antista: “If a customer wants, we’ll send an employee to escort the media. We made a pickup from the customer site, the courier kept it on his person at all times and we’ve done Japan, London and across the country.”

Announcer: The trip is no vacation for the courier.

John Antista: “We were going to Nashville once a week, flying down in the morning, handing it to the customer and flying back here.”

Announcer: This is the standard operating procedure, but it’s also an indication of how much customers value the careful, secure handling their assets get in the hands of Iron Mountain employees. The job may be 40 hours a week, but the responsibilities aren’t.

Steve Garcia: “I’m always on call.”

Sound effect: Thunder

Announcer: And sometimes the call of duty demands extraordinary measures, particularly when the weather isn’t cooperating.

John Antista: “24 hours, 365, we have on-call people. We have one ops employee on call and two trans employees on call.”

Announcer: “A “trans” is a person who transports the customer’s assets.

John Antista: “We have high activity for disaster recovery, so we always keep two trans employees on call, in case one has to drive to New Jersey. Which has happened. In the middle of a snowstorm, the customer calls and says he needs his tapes in New Jersey now. He gets in the van, drives down to deliver it, but now if another critical comes in, he’s just gone out on a six-hour run, so we always keep that second employee.”

Announcer: Sometimes those weather events are memorable; some are even historic.

John Antista: “Once, the transportation-on-call employees were called on the overnight for another trip to New Jersey. It was actually a hurricane. The streets were flooded; he couldn’t even get off the exit ramp to where the delivery needed to be made. So he was able to pull off into a safe parking spot, call the customer and walk off the highway - because the streets were all closed - to the customer site to be able to make the handoff.”

Announcer: That’s what Iron Mountain means what it says it puts the interests of the customer first. It’s not just talk; walk the halls of an Iron Mountain vault and you’ll meet long-term employees – the average length of service at this facility is well over a decade – who, like Steve Garcia, are always on call. That’s part of the job, and it’s part of what makes them proud to work for Iron Mountain.

John Antista: “In my seven years here, I think Iron Mountain has only closed for the day officially once…. When we closed, I called all my drivers and said were technically closed, you don’t need to come to work, but if you want to, we still have customers. More than half my staff showed up to go on the road that day.”

Announcer: That’s more than half of staff of 15 drivers and one dispatcher.

John Antista: “They all came in and toughed it out, every snow storm.”

Announcer: Because that’s what you do when you’re inside the vault. For Iron Mountain, this is Paul Gillin