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Focusing on Security

Responding to the growing need for increased data security and protection, IBM has been ramping up its encryption capabilities, which are being included with many of the company’s next-generation product enhancements.

Illustration by Michael Klein

With industry and government regulations regarding data protection and security becoming more pervasive, companies are racing to provide encryption and other data-protection solutions for their existing storage-device product lines; IBM is no exception. IBM was a driving force behind the technology of self-encrypting tape drives when the TS1120 was announced in August 2006.

Responding to the growing need for increased data security and protection, IBM has been ramping up its encryption capabilities, which are being included with many of the company's next-generation product enhancements. Earlier this year IBM announced two product family offerings that now come equipped with enhanced encryption offerings, which customers should find useful as data-protection requirements continue to emerge and be refined.

Notably, IBM unveiled its first tape-storage offerings specifically tailored to meet the Linear Tape-Open* (LTO*) Generation 4 specifications. Secondly, a new virtual tape library (VTL) for open systems was introduced in June and is designed to address ongoing customer requests in the open-systems environment, specifically in the realms of backup and recovery.

LTO Generation 4

LTO was introduced in 2000 as an openly developed magnetic tape data storage alternative to the proprietary digital linear tape (DLT) format - and has subsequently overshadowed DLT in the space. LTO has been refined over the years via the release of new generations of the technology, with the first generation being made available in 2000. The fourth generation of LTO specifications, or LTO Ultrium* Generation 4, was announced in January, with IBM announcing qualified tape-storage offerings three months later.

"Any generation LTO announcement has a large impact in the open-systems marketplace," says Eric Buckley, LTO tape-offering management marketing manager in IBM* Systems and Technology Group. "In the beginning, the LTO technology was poised to fight against Quantum's DLT/SDLT and Sony's AIT, which had an overwhelming market share for high-speed, high-capacity tape storage for PC servers and UNIX* systems. LTO has since become a major player in less than a decade, which was seen as an overly ambitious goal in 2000."

According to Buckley, one of the primary driving factors behind the popularity of LTO, in addition to its high speed and capacity, is the consortium of companies that work together to ensure each new generation of the technology adheres to the same specifications to encourage cross-compatibility. This way, IBM drives can read media written from an HP drive or other competing - yet cooperating - drives.

"The consortium continues to unveil an ongoing roadmap, outlining what is planned for future LTO generations," says Buckley. "Investment protection is an important factor in today's IT environment."

LTO Generation 4 specifications called for doubling the capacity of Generation 3 drives and cartridges to a native 800 GB, improving the data-transfer by as much as 50 percent - to up to 120 MB/s - and added 256-bit AES-GCM drive-level data encryption. That encryption capability is unique to the Generation 4 announce and is an important component for customers in the unfolding age of regulatory compliance.

Ryan Rhodes is a freelance writer for IBM Systems Magazine.

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