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Encryption Made Easy

IBM TS1120 offers the ability to encrypt data at the tape-drive level.


In the first years of the 21st century, companies know more than ever about their customers. This knowledge is gained through the collection and analysis of customer data, but it comes at a price: companies are now responsible for securing the privacy data of their customers' personal information.

Companies not only have a potential moral responsibility to protect information pertaining to customers' trust from unauthorized access - they may also have the legal responsibility. An increasing number of jurisdictions have passed or are considering adopting laws mandating that companies notify customers about the loss or theft of their personal data.

Growing Concern

Over the past year-and-a-half, the general atmosphere of concern centered around data security, as data stored on backup tapes led to IBM* customers wishing to ensure the data on their tapes was properly protected at all times. In response, IBM formed a cross-disciplinary storage and software task force charged with helping clients protect their customer data.

In July 2005, IBM announced its intention to provide encryption in a storage device outside of the server. Now IBM fulfills that promise with the TS1120 drive, a device that offers the ability to encrypt data at the tape-drive level.

"From a customer perspective," says Brad Johns, program director, IBM Storage software and tape marketing, "the primary purpose of the TS1120 is to help customers address government regulations and take advantage of the latest IBM tape technology that builds on proven technology that's already been very successful."

Before IBM introduced the TS1120 drive, there were two main ways to encrypt data: a hardware option and a software option. The software option had the advantage of being applicable on an enterprise-wide basis, but it was an intensive user of server resources. Also, the encryption keys needed to access protected data tended to reside on the server or application that performed the encryption rather than being available across multiple servers.

In contrast, the hardware approach relied on special-purpose appliances sitting on storage area networks (SANs). As data passed through these appliances, it was encrypted and sent out to a storage device. While these specialized-hardware pieces placed no demands on server resources, the approach only worked well in situations where minimal amounts of data were encrypted. The hardware option didn't provide a comprehensive approach, but focused on specific servers or specific applications.

"From a customer perspective, the primary purpose of the TS1120 is to help customers address government regulations and take advantage of the latest IBM tape technology that builds on proven technology that's already been very successful." -Brad Johns, program director, IBM Storage software and tape making

Aaron Dalton is a writer who specializes in business and technology topics. Aaron can be reached at aaron@imaginationwins.com.


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