NeoScale Claims Speedy Encryption

To roll out tape encryption software with new performance features tomorrow

June 21, 2006

2 Min Read
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Encryption can be a drag.

A combination of regulatory and legal pressures and a healthy fear of data loss or theft is driving many organizations to encrypt their backup tapes these days. But adding encryption can slow performance, even with high-speed LTO-3 tape drives.

Enter NeoScale Systems Inc. , which tomorrow will roll out a new encryption software suite for its CryptoStor Tape storage appliance. The vendor claims the add-on to its system, which encrypts data via a security appliance as it streams onto the tape drive, reduces backup and recovery windows for tape drives substantially.

"We're optimizing our software so the tape drive can deliver the same performance it would get when it didn't have us in the picture," says Dore Rosenblum, vice president of marketing for NeoScale.

While LTO-3 tape technology runs at 80 MByte/s natively, encryption can slow that down significantly. Though hardware-based storage encryption devices like NeoScale's are supposed to perform better than software, there is still a performance tradeoff. (See Encrypt the Hard(ware) Way and Review: Tape Encryption Devices.)Still, Rosenblum says many organizations are compelled to take the tradeoff. Some new state laws, including ones in California, require an organization to report a data breach if the compromised or stolen information was not encrypted.

"If you lose personal information and it wasn't encrypted, you must report that breach," he says. "Companies want to stay out of the headlines as well as to protect their backup tapes."

According to Rosenblum, LTO-3 drives require a certain level of streaming data before performance becomes very poor. This performance hit occurs when the system is running at 30 MByte/s, depending on the type of tape drive being encrypted.

Most software-based encryption solutions cannot sustain anywhere close to this performance level, so throughput drops dramatically when the application cannot drive at least 30 MByte/s of throughput. A slow software-based solution could drop LTO-3 throughput by 70 to 80 percent and have a dramatic impact on the backup window, he says.

"With the CryptoStor Tape appliance, the backup window impact is generally very small," Rosenblum claims.NeoScale's performance claims can't be substantiated by any user testimonial. Current customers include Spectrum Federal Credit Union and Qsent, but they could not be reached at press time. Until the new software is proven in the field, NeoScale won't be able to quantify distinctions between its latest products and offerings from chief competitor Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), which purchased Decru in June 2005. (See NetApp Buys Decru.)

The new version of NeoScale's software will ship on all CryptoStor Tape appliances, which are typically priced from $25,000. The new package is now available as an upgrade to existing CryptoStor users with software maintenance agreements.

Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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