Nexsan Unveils Secure Storage Appliance

Assureon is designed with content addressed storage and 256-bit encryption to help companies comply with retention regulations.

Combining content addressed storage (CAS) and the latest encryption technologies, Nexsan Technologies has developed a secure disk-based storage appliance that could help organizations comply with retention regulations while ensuring that both online and offline media are fully protected.

Assureon, the first of a planned series of security appliances the Woodland Hills, Calif. company plans to roll out, addresses the security and authenticity of the information being stored and managed by combining CAS, 256 bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption and full ILM (information lifecycle management) capabilities.

The resulting system allows organizations to combine disparate applications and heterogeneous hardware components into a working system to secure and manage information for long-term retention, management, protection and disposition of fixed content and reference information, according to Brendan Kinkade, a Nexsan vice president.

Security is achieved by combining AES encryption with Assureons advanced key management system, which protects keys from attacks, inadvertent corruption by insiders or physical theft of the hardware that contains the keys.

"Anytime you lock up your house you want to put a few extra keys around, but each time you do that you may be increasing the risk of one of those keys being found," Kinkade said. "This addresses those concerns and allows you to have multiple copies of encrypted keys to the encrypted files and a secure method by which you can track those keys and allow them to be accessed only by authorized people."

By including CAS, Assureon enables single instance store, meaning that only one copy of any data object is retained.

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"If the legal department and human resources department in the company were both saving an employee termination letter, Assureon could identify that they are duplicates based on their CAS address and only store one copy," he said. "And because there is a one-to-many relationship between the file and the files metadata, the HR department can have different policies set than the legal department. So if HR only need to keep that document for a year, that key is disposed of at the end of the year but the legal department can retain it for longer if thats what they need."

Assureons performance and capacity also can scale independently, allowing administrators to increase storage capacity and server nodes as needed, and is media-independent. In addition to disk, it supports removable media such as tape and optical. "should you lose one of your tapes, the information on the tape will be unusable," Kinkade said.

By combining these specific technologies to develop a secure storage product, Nexsan is getting in on the ground floor of a market that is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, said Pushan Rinnen, a principal analyst at Gartner, headquartered in Stamford, Conn.

"Today, most archived data is on tape, which means its offline and removable and can be locked up in a vault. But as companies move to online data, security becomes more of an issue, and this helps eliminate a tradeoff companies have had to make between speed of recovery and security," she said.

The move also helps broaden the perception of Nexsan as a company focused on SATA (Serial ATA) technology, Rinnen said. "It looks like they are trying to get more into application-specific storage versus just SATA disk arrays that could be used for any type of storage," she said.

The current Assureon offering is targeted to midrange through enterprise customers, but Nexsan is working on a more compact entry-level product that will address the needs of the SMB (small and medium-sized) market, Kinkade said.

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