Seagate Brings Encrypted Drives To The Channel


Seagate Tuesday expanded the market for its encrypted Savvio, Cheetah and Constellation hard drives by making them available to solution providers and system builders.

The move to bring encrypted drives to the channel fulfills a promise Seagate made last April when it started shipping encrypted hard drives to OEMs and promised to eventually bring them to the channel .

The move makes Seagate the first to bring its self-encrypting drive technology to the indirect sales channel, said Teresa Worth, senior product marketing manager for the storage vendor.

Along with the new self-encrypting versions of its Savvio, Cheetah and Constellation hard drives, Seagate Tuesday unveiled controllers from LSI and Intel that use Trusted Computing Group-compliant technology to work with the drives to encrypt and decrypt data on-the-fly.

One of the LSI controllers, the eight-port MegaRAID SAS 9260DE-8i, allows the building of internal storage systems with up to 32 SATA or SAS hard drives or solid state drives. It features data-transfer rates of up to 6 Gbps per port, and provides instant secure erase and local key management.

The other, LSI's MegaRAID SAS 9280DE-8e, is similar, but comes with eight external SATA+SAS ports for configuring external storage enclosures.

Both controllers are currently available. A third model is expected to be released early next year.

Worth also said that Intel is OEMing LSI's entire line of encryption controller chips in order to bring similar adapters to market in the near future.

Tom Kodet, channel product marketing manager at LSI, said that if a controller is replaced, it will not have the proper authentication key to unlock the self-encrypted drives. Instead, the replacement controller will prompt the user for the authentication key, Kodet said.

Seagate's encrypted drives require either a Trusted Computing Group-compliant controller in the host server or a Trusted Computing Group-compliant adapter card in order to handle the security, Worth said.

Each drive has an encryption chip with its own encryption key, while the controllers or adapters maintain the authentication key and provide the graphical user interface for managing the encryption, she said.

With such a system, data is automatically locked once stored on an encrypted drive. Should the drive be pulled from a system, or if a system with an encrypted drive is stolen, the data is locked with technology that makes it unreadable.

Seagate is also offering a secure erase option that causes the data on the drive to be unreadable in a matter of seconds. This makes the drives available for resale or reuse without concerns that important company data can be leaked, Worth said.

By bringing its encrypted hard drives to the channel, Seagate is hoping to offer solution providers a new revenue stream, Worth said.

"The drives are bringing a whole new capability to customers," she said. "Solution providers might even be able to open new markets in security, or a new business in hard drive repurposing and reselling."

Seagate's self-encrypted drives are priced at a premium of about 5 percent to 15 percent over the company's equivalent non-encrypted drives, Worth said.

List pricing for LSI's MegaRAID SAS 9260DE-8i controller is $729. The LSI MegaRAID SAS 9280DE-8e lists for $945. These prices represent a $80 to $120 premium for the encryption, Kodet said.