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Brocade encryption won't stretch to tape for months

Brocade provides next-gen DataFort

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Brocade's encrypting switch and blade will be the performance migration path for NetApp's DataFort encrypting appliances, with tape fans having to sit tight until the end of the year.

Brocade announced its Encryption switch and blade strategy on Monday, but was ambivalent about tape support.

Jose Carreon, a Brocade director of infrastructure security marketing, has now confirmed the switch and blade products will be released in two phases with encryption of data on disk storage being supported now and tape drive and VTL support following in December. The December release will also support compression of tape or VTL-destined data.

Brocade and NetApp

The two products use technology from NetApp's encrypting DataFort appliance which NetApp gained through its Decru acquisition of June, 2005.

Carreon said: "We have cross-licensed Decru technology and we can read Decru-encrypted files. We're the migration path for customers needing higher-performance. NetApp has no plans to end-of-life DataFort and may re-purpose it to the edge."

Brocade's encrypting products work at 48Gbit/s in their base configuration and up to 96Gbit/s with a software upgrade, much faster than DataFort.

NetApp's Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Jay Kidd, blogged: "Brocade has new blindingly fast Fibre Channel switches and director blades that integrate almost 100Gbit/s of encrypting bandwidth. ... NetApp will resell the Brocade products as our next generation FC (Fibre Channel) DataFort. We always expected that encryption would become a feature of storage devices, tape drives, and fabric switches and this was our strategic intent when we acquired Decru 3 years ago."

NetApp will resell the Brocade encryption products as its Fibre Channel encryption offering with the DataFort E-Series being its Ethernet-connect offering and the S-Series being its SCSI-connection version.

Carreon said AES-GCM is just a particular version of AES-256. He added that there are two modes of AES-256 encryption, one for disk and one for tape.

Brocade and Cisco

Brocade's encryption products compete with Cisco's SAN fabric 9222i product which encrypts data going to tape and VTL but not, Cisco confirms, disk. (The 9222i includes the Storage Media Encryption functionality with its AES-256 encryption.)

Compared to the Brocade products, Cisco spokesperson Lee Davis said: "Cisco uniquely provides the ability to encrypt data traffic from any Virtual SAN (VSAN). Also, there is no extra software required for Cisco Fabric Manager for Key Management." Cisco can also encrypt traffic between its directors across 8Gbit/s FC links.

What about encrypting data going to drive arrays? "... that capability is being added in a near future release."

Carreon said of the Cisco product: "We're finding customers are not getting the up to 10Gbit/s of encryption performance claimed." Brocade has invited Cisco to an encryption bake-off with an independent third-party producing a report, and Cisco has agreed. Carreon said darkly: "Accepting the invitation is one thing. Showing up to the party is another." ®

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