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Hitachi announcement adds momentum to hard drive encryption

The company's new 3.5-inch terabyte drive that also offers full-disk encryption joins a growing number of encrypting drives from Hitachi, Fujitsu and Seagate, and likely more to come.

Last week, Hitachi announced its 7K1000, a 3.5-inch terabyte drive for PCs that also offers full-disk encryption (FDE). This drive joins a growing number of encrypting drives from Hitachi as well as Fujitsu and Seagate. Certainly, Samsung and Western Digital can't be far behind.

In my view, Hitachi's announcement is across the industry for several reasons:

The Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 Hitachi

1. New corporate laptop purchases will likely contain encrypting drives. Now that laptop vendors like Acer, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard have multiple disk drive suppliers to choose from, they are far more likely to build and sell more laptops with encrypting drives. As laptops are replaced, hard-drive resident FDE will become the default model. Existing software encryption vendors need to prepare for this with good management and migration tools.

2. Hitachi is targeting desktop PCs, not just laptops. Few users encrypt desktop PCs today but I believe they will when PC configurations include encrypting hard drives for a few extra bucks. Hitachi is certainly betting that this will happen.

3. The data center can't be far behind. Seagate is the only vendor offering an enterprise-class encrypting drive but this exclusivity won't last long. Again, as the incremental price for encryption-capable enterprise storage arrays decreases, many large organizations will jump on the bandwagon.

In the past, software-based encryption wasn't practical as it was too expensive and consumed a disproportionate amount of system resources. Specialized encrypting hardware was also beyond the financial means of most organizations. That was then, this is now. Cryptographic processors are now readily available and getting cheaper all the time. As this continues, storage-based encryption become mainstream.