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HP launches key-management appliance

Company releases a key-management product aimed at helping companies manage encrypted systems more efficiently.

The management of encryption keys has become one of the most important issues in security, according to Hewlett-Packard, which has launched an appliance to help companies better manage their deployments of the technology.

Announced at Storage Networking World Europe 2007 in Frankfurt, Germany, on Monday, the StorageWorks Secure Key Manager consolidates key management for encryption devices in enterprises and medium-size businesses, HP said.

More and more companies are adopting key encryption, where data is encrypted so that anyone attempting to gain unauthorized access to a system will be unable to access it without the key, according to HP.

To keep documents secure, every time a user accesses a document a new key will be issued, resulting in organizations having thousands, or even millions, of keys, which have to be carefully managed if the system is to keep track of them.

Each key is unique and cannot be replaced, which can have potentially disastrous results if the key to a crucial document is lost, said Bob Wilson, vice president for HP's Nearline Storage organization.

"Key management is the key security issue, and no pun intended," said Wilson. "Now we have the ability (with the key-management appliance) to take key management and run it across the entire company."

HP StorageWorks Secure Key Manager will initially support HP hardware such as the LTO-4 tape library, and the company hopes to get support for it from other suppliers. An entry-level system costs $59,900 for the two appliances necessary to send and receive encrypted data. Extra appliances are $32,900.

Along with the HP StorageWorks Secure Key System, the company launched the StorageWorks 9000 Virtual Library System--a two-stage backup system, with initial backups to disk, followed by data encryption and migration to tape. No details on price were released.

According to HP and other companies, such as IBM, tape is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, as it is the cheapest way of storing data and companies are finding themselves having to keep more and more data.

Colin Barker of ZDNet UK reported from London.