HP Keeps the Keys to the Kingdom

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HP this week unveiled an appliance designed to help enterprises keep tabs on data encryption keys.

The HP StorageWorks Secure Key Manager centralizes key management for encryption devices in enterprises and mid-sized businesses. Having a single point for encryption keys is essential for enterprises that have keys "in 250 different places," said Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing for HP StorageWorks.

While such devices are still a long way from being able to manage everything in heterogeneous environments, Eitenbichler said the company is "working toward heterogeneity" with Fibre Channel switch vendors, backup software vendors and the like. Secure Key Manager is the first step in a plan that will eventually offer centralized encryption key management across storage, servers, application and network domains, HP said. For now, it will initially support HP LTO-4 enterprise-class tape libraries.

Jon Oltsik, senior analyst for information security at the Enterprise Strategy Group, said that HP "clearly understands all of the complexities in securing a corporate infrastructure and is one of the first vendors to deliver a comprehensive solution to address security concerns for the enterprise and mid-size corporate data center."

"The market is very immature today, but my feeling is that it will grow and evolve quickly as encryption becomes mainstream in applications, databases, file systems and infrastructure," said Oltsik, who predicted that it will be "two to three years before encryption is everywhere."

Privacy and disclosure regulations — not to mention scores of high-profile database breaches and lost data tapes — are driving the growing use of encryption.

HP's Secure Key Manager offers lifetime key archival, automatic multi-site key replication and high-availability clustering and failover capabilities to protect keys and speed access. HP said its approach is similar to that of data encryption vendors Decru and NeoScale, both of which have also been hard at work on interoperability issues. Pricing for HP's Secure Key Manager starts at $100,000 for a two-node cluster.

HP also took the wraps off the HP StorageWorks 9000 Virtual Library System this week, which offers a two-stage backup strategy with initial backups to disk, followed by data encryption and migration to tape.

Another new offering from HP is drive encryption for HP ProtectTools, which encodes every bit of information on hard drives in HP business-class notebooks and operates without user intervention.

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