As more data is generated, stored and accessed outside of traditional data center environments, and more data copies are made and retained for longer periods of time, channel professionals like yourself are presented with plenty of opportunities to create value around securing data while in transit. Data needs to be moved to support business continuance (BC), disaster recovery (DR), compliance and long-term preservation of business records, and to stage data for distributed access.
Data can be moved electronically over networks or physically using removable media; customers need help choosing the right data transport techniques for their shops. For example, you can provide a service to customers looking to move data electronically by helping them identify which technology and types of networks are available and applicable to their needs and environment.
You may also help customers identify applicable alternatives to encrypt, secure and track physical movement of magnetic tapes and removable hard disk drives (RHDD). For example, Imation recently announced an RFID-equipped tape volume serial number that can be fitted to existing magnetic tape cartridges (LTO, DLT, 359x, 34x0, 9x40 and T10000). Imation has also announced an enhanced tape transport case with an embedded GPS-based tracking devise.
Services can be wrapped around these technologies as part of customer upgrades and maintenance to their existing environments. As a turnkey service you could provide to your customers upgraded tape labels with the RFID-tracking capabilities, RFID readers, RFID processing and inventory software and conversion of tape labels with an inventory assessment. The benefits of RFID-equipped tape cartridges, particularly when carried in new transport cases with embedded GPS tracking, are the speed and ease of inventorying what is in the case when it leaves and arrives at different facilities. As a bonus, if the case is locked and lost, you can track it down.
An alternative to shipping magnetic tape cartridges is to ship data on the emerging and growing number of RHDDs, like those from Imation, Iomega, Prostor and Quantum. The issues with transporting and moving RHDD are similar to shipping magnetic tape with an emphasis on security, isolation from harsh environments and electrical shock. Needless to say, not all removable media are made the same, just as not all disk drives are made the same.
Not all data is physically transported when moved between locations as there is a growing trend toward moving data electronically over networks. Data is moved over networks using backup, archiving, real-time or time-delayed replication, and file-copy techniques. If you want to provide network-based data movement capabilities to your customers, take into consideration available and accessible network bandwidth, latency, fault isolation or protection, in addition to cost and data encryption. Part of the network cost for moving data is the up-front cost of acquiring the network service along with special equipment and recurring monthly network costs.
When assessing network services look beyond available bandwidth to see what the effective throughput, latency and redundancy is on the network circuit. In addition to networking to move data electronically, you will also need some type of data mover, such as a host, network or storage-system-based replication tool, backup or archiving software or file copy utility plus applicable hardware devices.
The value-add is to group these technologies with best practices and implementation services, including assessment, installation, configuration and training. In the case where your customers already have some technologies in place, your opportunity is to either fill in the blanks to make a working solution, or work with them to migrate to more cost effective and enabling technologies.
Technologies that can be used to secure data in transit include:
- Encryption software, hardware, networks and appliances
- RHDD with encryption
- Troubleshooting diagnostics and management tools
- Replication and remote backup hardware and software solutions
- Disk-based backup devices including virtual tape libraries (VTLs) with remote replication
- Data deduplication or compaction tools and appliances
- WAFS/WADS/WADM along with bandwidth-optimization tools
- GPS-enabled tracking devices embedded into media transport cases
- Network bandwidth providers and hosting facilities
Some ideas for services to secure data in transit include:
- Network bandwidth and latency assessments to meet data movement needs
- Partner with local and regional bandwidth providers for network services
- Identify storage hosting sites also known as data hotels for storing data
- Arrange secure bonded transportation of removable media for your customers
- Re-architect customers data movements to leverage automation
- Security and data protection assessments and remediation
- Business impact analysis (BIA), DR and BC strategy review
Thinking outside of the box along with items mentioned in this tip will provide you with many opportunities to help clients protect data in transit. As you come up with new or innovative approaches, send me a note as I would like to hear about what you are doing, issues addressed and success you are having.
About the author: Greg Schulz is founder and senir analyst of the independent storage analyst firm the StorageIO group and author of the book Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier).
This was first published in March 2007