Startups Focus on Secret SANs

Startups expand their offerings with latest high-end SAN security appliances

December 11, 2003

2 Min Read
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As companies move to networked storage, their traveling data becomes exposed in more places than ever before. That makes SAN security one of the biggest goals for companies with expanding storage requirements. This week, Decru Inc. and Vormetric Inc. -- two of a handful of SAN security appliance startups with shipping products -- expanded their offerings in hopes of finding their place in that growing market.

Decru launched its DataFort T520 tape appliance, which can work standalone or with its Fibre Channel appliance, the FC520. Vormetric unveiled CoreGuard 2.0, an upgrade that adds Windows 2000 and Linux support to its storage security appliance, which previously ran only under Solaris.

Both products work with SANs, NAS, and direct attached storage (DAS). They offer authentication and access control, and they encrypt data using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), a 128-bit or 256-bit encryption standard approved by the U.S. government.

Decru and Vormetric are among a growing handful of security startups emphasizing SAN storage (see SAN Security). Others include NeoScale Systems Inc. and Kasten Chase Applied Research Ltd., which also make encryption appliances. Decru and Vormetric hope their new launches help them move to the front of a race in which a leader has yet to emerge.

Still, comparisons can be made among the different devices. Analyst Arun Taneja of The Taneja Group says Vormetric offers the most exhausive encryption because it protects data "end to end" across networked storage. The others leave data in the clear at some point in the process. On the other hand, Vormetric only protects data traveling disk to disk; it lacks protection for data on tape.Decru joins NeoScale as the only two in the group to protect data on tape. Decru now has two security products, one that supports Fibre Channel and one for tape. Each can be upgraded to support the other, so that backup on disk and tape can be done on one appliance. Decrus products require no software on the client or storage devices. They use smart-card keys for encrypting data, and they offer secure clusters with failover capability. Pricing for the FC520 with tape support starts at $35,000 per appliance.

Vormetric's CoreGuard 2.0 requires an appliance and thin agent deployed on each server. It secures data at the file level, without affecting applications. CoreGuard grants access to sensitive data after validating five criteria: who is accessing data, what they want to do with it, where the target data is stored, when access is attempted, and how the data is delivered (either clear or encrypted). Pricing is around $40,000 for each appliance.

Are any of these companies making traction? Decru and Vormetrix both say they have customers, but only Decru names one -- the Italian government (see Italy Makes SANs Sicuro). Vormetrix says it's got customers, but mum's the word on their identities.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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