Secure Storage Tops Labs New Years Wish List

Analysis: eWEEK Labs calls for vendors to make encryption more affordable and to resolve format conflicts in 2006.

Its not too late to make new years resolutions, and eWEEK Labs has a couple to suggest for storage vendors.

Vendors should make encryption more affordable and practical for customers.

Last year was an absolute nightmare in terms of storage security, and Marriott International Inc. capped things off by exposing the personal data of more than 200,000 of its customers and employees. If that data had been encrypted, things would have been a lot less scary.

/zimages/6/28571.gifEncryption and backup go hand in hand. Click here to read more.

Price is one of the biggest hurdles to wider encryption implementation: Even at larger shops, IT managers often dont have $20,000 to $40,000 to spend on high-end tape encryption appliances, especially if they need to purchase multiple units to deal with their backup loads.

IT managers can avoid the high cost of hardware by going to a software-based encryption solution, but the drawback is that valuable server CPU cycles are wasted while encrypting data in the backup stream.

The process of encrypting media also takes time and adds complexity to the backup process. With IT managers struggling to back up their data within increasingly smaller windows, its easy to see why they arent rushing to encrypt their tapes.

One potential place where encryption can be more efficiently introduced is within disk-based backup appliances. Most of these appliances are basically intelligent arrays, so it should be relatively easy for vendors to either add encryption software to their appliances or work with third parties to add specialized processors.

eWEEK Labs would like to see vendors this year working to resolve the conflict between next-generation optical storage formats HD DVD (high-definition DVD)—backed by Toshiba Corp., NEC Corp. and Sanyo North America Corp., among others—and Blu-ray, a format developed by the Blu-ray Disk Association, comprising several consumer electronics and PC companies.

Optical storage is an ideal WORM medium for document archiving, a task IT managers need to get a handle on with many regulations mandating that data be stored for several years. But with these two optical formats entering the market simultaneously, consumers will be hesitant to adopt either format for fear that the product they bet on could become the next Betamax.

We hope that one of these standards dies a quick death by the end of the year. Unfortunately, with all the money and corporate pride at stake, this war has the potential to drag out for some time.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at

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