It would be unfair to say IoSafe CEO Robb Moore is happy about recent flooding in northern California and major cloud outages such as the recent one involving Amazon S3, but these events make his points: Environment and computers don't mix well, and you can't always count on what happens in someone else's network.
That's why IoSafe traffics in hard drive enclosures that are fireproof and waterproof. The company in Auburn, California emerged in its own niche a few years ago, adjacent to other specialists such as Armagard, which focuses on protecting racks, not individual components.
SEE: Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan (Tech Pro Research)
Customers include small businesses, remote departments of corporations, industrial locations, and unspecified military users. As with conventional backup software, the idea of secure drive enclosures is to save your data, not your motherboard or storage chassis.
After a fire or a flood, "The fastest way to have it up-and-running quickly is to have it never leave the premises in the first place... it doesn't mean you can't use other techniques to help mitigate risk," Moore continued. "The enterprise application that we fit into is the remote office, where there's data that's vulnerable that's out on the edge."
IoSafe offers servers and network-attached storage (NAS) units, the latter atop a Linux system from Bellevue, Wash.-based Synology. That company upgraded its software to version 6.1 on February 21, 2017. Meanwhile, the IoSafe server in Linux and Microsoft Windows editions hit version 5 on February 28, 2017. IoSafe servers and NAS products can cost up to three times that of comparable standard-environment systems, although usually the difference isn't that stark, Moore said.
Two extreme tests of IoSafe drive enclosures
Storage analyst George Crump said he personally tested an IoSafe drive enclosure by going to extreme measures in his backyard. "The first unit I got of theirs, I didn't feel like lighting it on fire because I didn't trust myself. So I threw it in the pool." The drive emerged dry and worked fine. "The same thing that would keep it safe from water would also keep it safe from sand," he said, commenting on the enclosure's industrial or military field use. "I think it's one of those things that it's brilliant in its simplicity."
Then there's Todd Stum, IT director for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, which serves as local government for the 4,000 citizens of Warm Springs reservation in Oregon. Stum said his inspiration was a recent fire within 75 feet of his computer room. He tested an IoSafe enclosure with the business end of a 9mm handgun. The bullet penetrated the case, yet left the drive intact, he said.
"HP said they didn't have anything on the market for that and nothing on the radar. Dell was kind of the same scenario," Stum said.
Another IoSafe customer—a technical analyst at a large agriculture corporation, who wasn't authorized to give an interview—said he and colleagues install hundreds of ioSafe boxes in their efforts to eliminate tape backups at remote locations. He told his Dell representative that they should acquire the company.
IoSafe's focus for 2017
Moore said his 2017 emphasis is on getting his products into more IT resellers for small and medium-sized businesses. "It isn't 100% foolproof and nothing is," he explained. "It's another arrow in your quiver to help you with disaster recovery, protection, and cybersecurity."
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Evan Koblentz began covering enterprise IT news during the dot-com boom times of the late 1990s. He recently published a book, "Abacus to smartphone: The evolution of mobile and portable computers". He is director of Vintage Computer Federation, a 501(c)3 non-profit and can often be found running marathons or having deep conversations with Floppy Disk Cat.