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Thales launches key manager, gets support from Brocade and HDS

The encryption technology from defunct Neoscale is alive and well, and – after winding its way about Europe – shipping in a key management appliance that Hitachi Data Systems has started reselling.

A few years back, Neoscale, Decru (now part of NetApp) and a few others were part of what was seen as an emerging market for tape encryption devices. The market never took off, and U.K. enterprise security vendor nCipher bought Neoscale’s assets for $1.9 million in late 2007. Thales Group, a French-based company, then acquired nCipher for $100 million in July 2008.

Thales still sells CryptoStor tape encryption devices that Neoscale developed, and brought more Neoscale IP to market in Thales Encryption Manager for Storage (TEMS). Thales said this week that Brocade has qualified TEMS for it s Encryption Switch and the FS8-18 Encryption Blade that fits into Brocade’s DCX director switch.

Thales also secured a reseller deal with HDS to sell TEMS with Brocade switches. Thales is looking for similar deals with other storage vendors as it tries to become a player in the storage security game. TEMS handles encryption keys for devices from multiple vendors.

“We are attractive to Hitachi because we are security only, and not a storage and security company,” Thales director of product marketing Kevin Bocek said.

In other words, Thales is different than its rival RSA Security, which is owned by EMC.

“We’re not affiliated with a storage vendor,” Bocek said. “We’re neutral.”

Thales is part of the Key Management Interoperability Protocol (KMIP) alliance that is developing an industry standard, which Bocek expects to become ratified next year. Once that happens, he says, it will help vendors bring encryption products to market faster.

“Within a year or two, many more encryption devices will be brought into storage systems,” he said, sounding an optimistic tone for a market that hasn’t yet amounted to much.

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