Sun Gets Secretive on Storage

Prepares to tighten the screws on storage security with encryption, ID management products

October 29, 2005

3 Min Read
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Sun Microsystems will unveil new security products next week in an effort to soothe user concerns about lost data.

At this weeks Storage Networking World conference in Orlando, Fla., Randy Kerns, vice president of strategy and planning for Sun’s data management group, told NDCF that the vendor is planning to launch storage encryption technology next week.

Although he would not go into details, the exec confirmed that the announcement, timed to coincide with StorageTek’s annual user Forum in Washington, D.C., will focus on removable media, such as tape. Sun acquired the storage vendor last summer. (See Sun Closes on StorageTek .)

Sun will face some competition. Storage encryption is already offered by Decru (now part of Network Appliance), Neoscale Systems, and Kasten Chase. Next month Spectra Logic will ship tape libraries with built-in encryption; virtual tape library vendor Sepaton Inc. will soon offer encryption through a partnership with Decru.

Encryption has become compulsory for companies looking to avoid the consequences of lost data. Earlier this year, for example, Time Warner made headlines when a truckload of backup tapes containing information on hundreds of thousands of employees went missing. (See A Tale of Lost Tapes.)The idea is that even if tapes or disks fall into the wrong hands, the encrypted data remains inaccessible. Last month, for example, Iron Mountain announced it is encrypting its own tapes with an appliance from Decru. (See Iron Mountain Calls for Encryption.)

As the October

Byte and Switch Insider, "Storage Security: Pay Attention or Pay the Price," points out, more than 50 million Americans have had personal information compromised since February. Some of the largest breaches involved lost tape, according to the non-profit consumer information and advocacy organization Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC).

But at this stage, it is unclear whether Sun will be taking a hardware- or software-based approach to encrypting data. Tape encryption can be handled in both backup software applications or in hardware appliances that plug into the storage area network (SAN). Some experts warn that software is less well-suited to large-scale tape deployments. (See Encrypt the Hard(ware) Way.)

Kerns said new identity management products are also on the horizon. “We’re going to look at things like digital rights management,” he said. “People have to do the protection of the data but also control who has access to it.”

Clearly, storage security is uppermost in users’ minds at the moment. In a poll of attendees taken during SNW, only 8 percent described their storage networking infrastructure as “bullet-proof.” Nearly a third admitted that their systems were weak and vulnerable to both physical and hacking threats.Today, Sun’s archrival IBM also donned its security hat, unveiling new encryption software for transporting tapes more securely between sites. The snappily titled Encryption Facility for z/OS version 1.1, encrypts and decrypts certain file formats on z/OS, the operating system for IBM’s family of z/Series mainframes. (See IBM Delivers Encryption.)

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum, and Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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