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Last stand for NetApp’s DataFort?

 In his latest blog, NetApp chief marketing officer Jay Kidd waxes enthusiastic about Brocade’s new encryption devices:

 Brocade has new blindingly fast Fibre Channel switches and director blades that integrate almost 100 GB/s [actually 96 GB/s] of encrypting bandwidth.

Kidd is a former Brocade guy, and maybe he’s happy for his old colleagues. But it’s more likely that he sees the encryption switch and blade as a boon for his current company. He goes on to say: “NetApp will resell the Brocade products as our next generation FC DataFort.”

DataFort is the encryption device platform that NetApp acquired when it bought Decru for $272 million in 2005. Brocade’s devices support NetApp key management, and Brocade licensed its encryption technology to NetApp to ensure compatibility between its devices and the DataFort platform. That’s why the headline on Kidd’s blog reads: NetApp and Brocade’s Encryption Partnership.”

Kidd’s blog doesn’t discuss NetApp’s plans for DataFort in his blog. Besides the FC version, DataFort supports iSCSI, NAS and legacy SCSI systems. After getting briefed by Brocade last week, I asked NetApp specifically about the future of DataFort. NetApp’s senior director of data protection solutions Chris Cummings sent an email positioning the Brocade news as an expansion of the platform. “… over the past year, NetApp has also added the ability to deliver key management services combined with encryption delivered by existing components of the data center fabric, including application and tape providers, and now switch providers,” he wrote.

Brocade reps and others in the industry expect NetApp to keep DataFort as a lower-end encryption device while selling Brocade’s products for data center encryption. But it also sounds like NetApp sees Brocade rather than DataFort as its encryption platform for the future.

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"But it also sounds like NetApp sees Brocade rather than DataFort as its encryption platform for the future." - For FC SAN LUNs this might be correct. But not for Encrypting tape or encrypting NAS shares. Brocade won't do that now or in the future, and that is the market space Decru is strong in. So I don't think this prediction is accurate.
I think Beth is right on. Encryption is a feature, not a product. And, even thought NetApp spent a boatload on Decru, they've now finally realized what the future holds, and are getting on with it. -- Chuck
Yes Beth covered this well, but allow me to disagree with Chuck's biased speculation about our DECRU acquisition. Encryption is indeed a feature of a data-at-rest security solution, and like any feature some can be implemented ordinarily, while others can be broadly certified, innovative, comprehensive and market-leading. More importantly, unified key management is the strategic lever that enables security-conscious organizations thrive instead of dive. Simple and scalable key management can efficiently and holistically apply strong encryption across all necessary storage pools, thereby protecting all data types (not just those stored on tape). More info here: