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Hifn offers NIC with compression and encryption

New card provides data compression and encryption over Ethernet networks, without the need for a separate device, for secure data backup and integration with cloud storage.

Hifn Inc. will ship a new network interface card (NIC) with compression and data encryption capabilities to secure data being replicated to disaster recovery (DR) sites or to cloud storage.

Hifn claims the Express DR 4100 Gigabit Ethernet NIC can compress and encrypt data on two Gigabit Ethernet ports at line speed in a single pass. OEMs or service providers can insert the NIC into industry-standard servers on either side of an Ethernet connection, says Mike Goldgof, Hifn's vice president of product marketing. "It's just a 'bump in the wire' and doesn't require special integration," he says.

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The card uses industry standards for security and compression, including IPSec, Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption and Lempel-Ziv (LZ) compression.

Goldgof says the product targets backup data security and cloud storage, as well as multi-tenant service provider environments. "Some people are still doing replication for backup and disaster recovery over WAN links in the clear," he says.

Both the cloud and data security have seen their share of hype in the storage market in recent years, but it remains unclear whether there'll be substantial adoption for either technology. "Everybody agrees data security is going to happen, but some seem to want to wait for compliance regulations to force it to happen," says Goldgof.

As for the cloud, Benjamin Woo, vice president, Enterprise Storage Systems at IDC, writes in an email to that his firm forecasts 13% of the money spent on cloud computing will go on storage by 2012, up from 8% last year. "It is the only segment of cloud that increases over time," he writes. Framingham, MA-based IDC expects the cloud to comprise 9% of worldwide IT spending by 2012.

The Express DR 4100 uses Intel Corp.'s 82576 Gigabit Ethernet Controller chip along with firmware that offloads compression and encryption operations from the host CPU. The 82576 is optimized for use with virtual servers, with features such as support for jumbo frames and virtual machine (VM) device queueing for I/O. It's compatible with Windows 2003 and 2008, and Linux.

The card will sample to OEMs this quarter with general availability expected by the end of June. It will cost $395 in OEM volume quantities.

So far, Hifn isn't naming any OEMs it might be working with to integrate the Express DR 4100. The company has strong existing relationships with storage vendors, says Woo, but probably needs a deal with a server vendor to get the NICs factory-installed in servers if they're to take off.

"Ultimately, on-premise to cloud integration is still at its infancy," he adds. "As more vendors look at their strategy and position in relation with the cloud, this definitely creates at least a viable opportunity."

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