NetOctave Sounds Security Note

IP SANs are no-go without security, says startup

October 13, 2001

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

IP chip startup NetOctave Inc. says security's where the action is when it comes to storage networks, particularly those based on Internet protocols.

On Monday it plans to launch its NSP4200, which it claims is the first security processor built specifically for the storage market.

So, who needs a special security chip just for storage networks?

According to NetOctave: any company that is serious about IP SANs. "Hackers typically aren't familiar with the inner workings of Fibre Channel, meaning that these networks are less vulnerable to attack," says Joe Ardini, VP of strategy and business development at NetOctave. They are very familiar with IP, however, so the idea of sharing storage across an IP network, whereby any host has access to data, presents a nightmare to security administrators.

The NSP4200 should prevent this, the company claims. It takes IP storage packets, which are typically much larger and more infrequent than packets of regular data traffic, and wraps them in encryption and authentication software, which can then be decoded by a trusted third party.NetOctave is hoping to sell these chips across the storage market -- to companies such as EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) in the storage array business; to Fibre Channel-over-IP (FCIP) bridge manufacturers; to storage router companies like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO); and to the host bus adapter companies moving towards iSCSI.

NetOctave's approach sets it apart from other startups that have taken a broad approach to building SAN chips, including Aarohi Inc., Chelsio Communications, Silicon Storage Technology Inc., Silverback Systems Inc., and Trebia Networks Inc..

These companies are chiefly concerned with improving the performance of storage devices and servers by offloading the intensive processing required to move data through storage networks based on emerging protocols. They're not focused on the specific functions required to keep the SAN secure.

NetOctave has persuaded some notable venture capital firms, including Intel Capital, Intersouth Partners, and a few smaller investors, to part with $16 million in funding to build this specialized chip, which it says will be essential” to the future of IP storage. It raised this round in October 2000 and is in the process of closing a second "any day now."

The fundraising has been helped significantly by the combined experience of the management team, company spokespeople say. President and CEO Rick Hegberg has more than twenty years in general management and sales in the semiconductor industry. Most recently he was head of OEM sales at Agere Systems (NYSE: AGR) (formerly Lucent Microelectronics). Hegberg brought several people with him from Agere. The remainder of the executive team are from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Celotek Corp. (which was acquired by Cylink Corp. in August 2000).It’s going to be some time before NetOctave's chips actually hit the streets, however. General availability is planned for the third quarter of 2002. According to NetOctave spokespeople, the introduction will coincide with the 10-Gbit/s TOE (TCP/IP offload engine) chips being designed by companies such as Adaptec (Nasdaq: ADPT), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HWP), and the startups mentioned above.

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights