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IBM ships tape with hardware crypto

First to market, but a pricey solution to lost tapes

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IBM has built public key encryption into its TS1120 tape drive, allowing the 500GB drive to encrypt and decrypt data on the fly in hardware.

The TS1120 isn't cheap, at almost £19,000 a pop, but could be worth it if you're worried about your tapes falling off a lorry - plus it should be faster than encrypting in software on the server. Tape encryption keys are managed centrally, either by Tivoli Storage Manager or a separate IBM key management application.

Older TS1120 drives can be upgraded to add encryption - that's not free though, as it involves new hardware and microcode. The TS1120 can be used with assorted IBM mainframes and servers, as well as with Windows, Unix and Linux systems, and it can be shared via a SAN.

IBM claims it is "the first fully encrypting drive" but it's not the only solution to the problem - companies such as SpectraLogic have built encryption into tape libraries, while the likes of Decru (now owned by NetApp) and Neoscale offer appliances that encrypt data before it is written to tape.

Encryption is also part of the LTO-4 spec - LTO-4 drives are due later this year.®

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