CipherMax Intros New Encryption Devices, Gets $10M In VC Funding


As the typical company's data continues to grow 50 percent annually and the average cost of a breach of that data reaches $4.8 million, the market is ready for centralized encryption of the data, said Greg Farris, director of marketing for CipherMax, San Jose, Calif.

CipherMax was formerly known as Maxxan Systems, which competed in the Fibre Channel space with the likes of Brocade and Cisco Systems. However, the company switched its focus to data encryption devices that take advantage of the company's intelligent SAN switch technology, said Mike Witkowski, CTO.

As part of the shift in focus, CipherMax reorganized, and on Monday the company said it received a B round of venture funding of $10 million, the bulk of which came from its current investors. It earlier received $6 million as CipherMax. The funds will be used for sales, marketing and R&D, Farris said.

CipherMax unveiled four new data encryption devices on Monday. Three of the devices encrypt data being stored to tape with 256-bit AES encryption. They are 1U devices that support up to 16 Fibre Channel ports, or up to 32 ports in a clustered configuration. The CM110T is designed to process compressed, encrypted data for two to four tape drives. The CM140T provides up to four times the encryption and compression output of the CM110T, and the CM180T has eight times the output.

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The fourth device, the CM180D, encrypts data being stored to disk. It can be connected to a current SAN switch, or it can be used as a stand-alone SAN switch because of the Maxxon technology, Farris said.

Witkowski said that if the CM180D is used as a Fibre Channel switch, it can replace a Brocade or Cisco switch and a couple of competing encryption appliances with a single device.

"But we know that most people don't want to use us as a switch," he said. "So we already work with the big switch vendors."

Unlike data encryption devices such as the CryptoStor appliance from NeoScale, Milpitas, Calif., and the Decru DataFort appliance from Network Appliance, the CipherMax devices are designed for centralized management of the encryption environment, Farris said. They bring all encryption services, including encryption key management, under a single management console, all with a single log-in, he added.

The centralized management is provided by two CipherMax software applications, Witkowski said. The first, SANCruiser, offers central global SAN and security management with a single interface. "We come from the SAN side, so we can go deeper into Fibre Channel than other vendors," he said.

The second, KEYCruiser, offers long-term management of encryption keys plus technology to protect and make those keys available for disaster recovery, Witkowski said. "Data can be replicated to a remote data center, either the customer's own site or a third-party site," he said. "The data lands at the remote site encrypted. This helps provide a secure encrypted site for remote disaster recovery."

CipherMax, which introduced larger disk encryption appliances last May, has been focusing mainly on direct sales, but the company expects to adopt a channel-centric model going forward, according to Farris. "We've been holding back, waiting for these new products," he said. "The older models needed a lot of help to deploy. With the CM-100 series, we are looking to recruit storage-savvy and security-savvy organizations."

One recent recruit is Integrated Network Security Alliance (INSA), an Ottawa, Ontario-based security and storage specialist that works mainly with banks and the Canadian government. INSA also works with the NeoScale and NetApp encryption appliances, which are good point solutions, said Jerry Glowka, vice president of the solution provider.

"But when it comes to managing 40 devices, CipherMax is easier to do centralized management and offers a single-key management scenario," he said.

Glowka said he especially likes how CipherMax lets individual departments with a client replicate data to a remote site while keeping control of its own encryption keys. That's important to government agencies, which are looking at replicating data to each other's environments for disaster recovery but worry about losing control of the encryption keys.

"In our case, we don't want to hold the keys at the central site so that the agencies don't have to worry about someone else having access to their data," Glowka said.

The CM110T and CM180D are available now, and both start at a street price of less than $30,000, including the SANCruiser and KEYCruiser software. The CM140T and CM180D are expected to ship in the second quarter.