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9/12/2006
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Sun, IBM Butt Heads On Tape Encryption

As the two companies shipped tape drives with built-in encryption, each accused the other of using proprietary technology.

Kenyon said that by encrypting the key on the tape, IBM is adding unnecessary risk. "We don't put the keys on the tape, but IBM does," he said. "Sun's keys are managed in the tape library independent of the tape drive. Ultimately, if the customer loses the keys, they can't read the tape. But we don't pass the key in the data path, so there's less chance for the keys to be captured."

Encrypting the keys onto the tape is quite safe, said Monshaw, as the encryption used depends on the public key that the customer keeps. "And the keys can be changed if they are compromised," he said.

IBM's TS1120 drives support three different encryption management methods, including application-based, system-based, or library-managed. The system and library versions use the IBM Encryption Key Manager for the Java platform.

As a result, the encryption capability is supported in the TS3500 tape library, the TS1120 tape controller, the TotalStorage 3592 tape controller, the TotalStorage 3494 tape libraries, the TotalStorage C20 Silo Attach frame, and stand-alone environments.

On the application side, the TS1120 encryption is supported by IBM Tivoli Storage Manager.

Kenyon said that IBM's multiple management methods actually add complexity. "We're application independent, and work with any third-party software," he said. "IBM has three different ways to do it instead of one. Ours is simple to integrate in an existing infrastructure while IBM's depends on which approach the customer takes."

Sun is starting to ship pre-revenue Crypto-Ready T10000 tape drives this week, with general availability scheduled for next month, Kenyon said. IBM's TS1120 with encryption technology is now available with a list price of $35,500.

Sun on Wednesday also enhanced its StorageTek VTL virtual tape library appliance by basing it on the company's V40z Opteron-based server for a 30-percent increase in performance, Kenyon said. The library now also uses the Solaris operating system.

Also new from Sun on Wednesday are two new servers based on the company's Niagra SPARC architecture.

They include the Netra T2000, a NEBS (National Equipment Building System) Level 3-compliant version of the company's current T2000 server for use in the telecom industry, said Warren Mootrey, senior director of volume SPARC systems.

Sun also unveiled the CP 3060 ATCA (Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture) blade server for the telco space. It is available in four-core, six-core, and eight-core versions. Up to 12 can fit in a single chassis, with up to three chassis fitting on a rack to save up to 1,600 watts of power per rack compared to some Intel systems, Mootrey said.

Sun also introduced a new entry-level SPARC workstation, the Ultra 25, with a single UltraSPARC 3i processor and PCI-X and PCI Express connectors. "It lets customers go to PCI Express graphics cards," said Brian Healy, group marketing manager for workstations.

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