Data Encryption Makes A Big Splash In Market

That variety of technology is playing into the hands of storage-savvy solution providers who can help their clients implement the right encryption solutions for their own data infrastructures.

End user organizations are starting to ask about encryption, which opens the door for solution providers to revisit existing storage customers, said Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi, a Cleveland-based VAR.

"We have built a big database of tape and disk customers over the years [to whom] we can market encryption," Knieriemen said.

Interest in encryption from verticals that are highly regulated, such as the medical and financial markets, is strong, said Dan Carson, vice president of marketing and business development at Open Systems Solutions, a Willow Grove, Pa.-based storage solution provider.

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However, the space is still relatively new to customers on the commercial side, Carson said. "Most commercial customers are in a wait-and-see mode," he said. "What will the standards be? What best suits their environments? What is the cost?"

Customer confusion can be expected, as mainstream data encryption is a relatively new technology and is being implemented in a multitude of ways.

There are currently at least three ways encryption is coming to market.

The first is stand-alone appliances, which includes products from companies such as Decru, acquired in mid-2005 by Network Appliance; Siafu, a Poway, Calif.-based storage startup; and Milpitas, Calif.-based NeoScale Solutions.

The second is to add encryption to data protection software either as a free upgrade or as an optional upgrade, as vendors such as Symantec and Oceanport, N.J.-based CommVault Systems are doing.

The third is to embed encryption into other devices, such as hard drives, tape drives, servers and storage arrays.

Which solution is best depends on customer requirements, said Pat Edwards, vice president of sales at Alliance Technology Group, a Hanover, Md.-based solution provider working with encryption products from Sun Microsystems and Decru.

"Is the customer looking to encrypt data across its entire organization or just a subset of the data?" Edwards said. "Is it looking to send data off-site or not? How long will it save the data? You need to talk to customers about these issues."

Just as critical, Edwards said, is the need to talk to customers about management of the keys used to encrypt and decrypt, including how those keys are protected and what happens if a key is lost. "Key management has to be a mandatory part of the discussion," he said.

On the appliance side, Decru this week is planning to offer professional services, including assessment, design and deployment, for its DataFort encryption appliances through the channel partners of EMC, NetApp and Quantum, said Michele Borovac, director of marketing.

Also this week, Siafu is introducing an encryption appliance for small and midsize business iSCSI SANs. The Sypher appliance offers AES 256-bit encryption, and at the entry level can handle encryption of data for one or two tape drives, said CEO John Matze.

These new appliances follow the introduction last week of new appliances featuring FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified encryption and 4-Gbps Fibre Channel interface from NeoScale.

Seagate Technology this week is introducing native encryption of data built into a new series of desktop PC hard drives. They feature AES 128-bit encryption. Symantec is also expected to add encryption to its Backup Exec data protection software, sources close to the company said.

Microsoft last month said it is planning to add encryption to the upcoming version of its Data Protection Manager software.