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The case for storage encryption began building as storage became increasingly networked. Multiple hosts could access a shared pool of disk capacity, which increased data vulnerability. SANs, which rely on complicated zoning and LUN masking for security, aren't considered secure. Encryption ensures that even if both host and SAN security is breached, the data will remain unreadable to unauthorized parties.
Storage encryption typically is delivered as an appliance that encrypts and decrypts data as it moves in and out of storage. All the encryption capabilities are handled by the appliance, which requires little in the way of management. The challenge is to do it quickly enough so as not to impede storage performance and to be transparent to the application and the storage.
Although the products are pretty good, says Hurley, "storage encryption is a tough sell." The problem is that enterprises are already spending a ton of money on security and don't want to buy yet another security product. But regulatory compliance is driving interest in encryption, as was the case at the University of Texas, which is pushing encryption products into the data center. Leading vendors included Decru Inc., Neoscale Systems Inc. and Vormetric Inc.
How hot: slow simmer.
Risk factor: hard to build yet another security business case.
Buy or pass: Unless auditors or regulators are putting pressure
on you, wait.
This was first published in October 2004