• United States



by Paul Kerstein

Users Concerned About Data Security, Encryption

Oct 27, 20054 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Keeping data secure, tracking who uses it and managing it in a way thatmaintains backup windows and keeps information available to customers– especially after an interruption in service or a disaster — areamong the top issues for IT executives, according to users who tookpart in a panel discussion yesterday at Storage Networking World.

One of the major pain points raised by users at the conference, whichends Thursday, is around managing hundreds of terabytes to petabytes ofdata in a way that protects it from outside attacks and keeps it frombeing compromised or lost during transport.

Ralph Barber, CIO at law firm Holland & Knight LLP in Tampa, Fla.,said Hurricane Wilma this week knocked out several branch offices ofhis law firm, which often deals with electronic discovery cases inconjunction with regulatory requirements or litigation. Holland &Knight has about 450 servers and two storage-area networks that supportabout 3,000 users.

Barber replicates data between his two data centers — one in Tampa,the other in Denver — for disaster recovery. But the digital tape healso uses to transport information between offices did not help restoresystems quickly enough after Wilma hit the state on Monday.

“Our challenges have been putting together a suite of services thatwill allow for disaster recovery and business continuity,” he said.”This morning [Wednesday], the Miami office and the West Palm Beachoffice [are] down. Fort Lauderdale just came back up about 10 minutesago.”

Barber said that better real-time, online data replication tools would help him set up emergency facilities during a disaster.

“We’re really trying to mitigate [business continuity issues] throughbackup and replication. With the Miami office down, I have lawyers whocan’t service clients and can’t make money for the firm,” Barber said.”What really is attractive to me is to be able to flash over data to arestore and move it to a data center, and then move it to a localoffice for efficiency.”

Barber said his company also uses United Parcel Service Inc. to movebackup tapes between some 30 branch offices. Some of the tapes areencrypted, but others are not. “That’s a risk,” he said.

One goal Barber is working toward is moving data over his company’sexisting WAN in an encrypted form. That, he said, would cuttransportation costs, save man-hours and reduce the risk of losingtapes that are often moved between offices for case management.

“We’ve received tapes back that are chopped … and eaten by the dog[so to speak],” Barber said, adding that not managing tapes properlycan cost a company millions of dollars in fines

Ken Black, global storage architect at Yahoo Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif.,said he is looking at different methods of encryption in light ofnumerous high-profile cases of data loss, and because strict federalguidelines require him to focus on security. “We have a group called’The Paranoids.’ They’re our security people, and they look for holeseverywhere. And what’s irritating is that we’re finding themeverywhere,” Black said.

Black’s company has dozens of data centers and anywhere from four toseven petabytes of data to manage. With so much data, storageadministrators are struggling to stay on top of backups.

“We’re trying to find something that helps us meet our backup windows,”Black said. “That’s one of the biggest hurdles right now. It’s onewe’re researching.”

Like many users at the conference, Black is testing disk-to-disk backuptechnologies, such as virtual tape libraries that emulate real tapelibraries to application servers but allow data to be saved to diskbefore transferring it off-line to tape for archival.

Cliff Dutton, chief technology officer at Ibis Consulting Inc. inProvidence, R.I., said he is also concerned with the ability to trackdata, especially in a crisis. Ibis manages 200TB of network-attachedstorage as part of its electronic data discovery business.

He currently does not replicate data to an off-site facility because data restoration must be “almost instantaneous.”

“If something is down for even a few minutes, it’s a horrible problemfor us. We’re under deadline regulatory requirements from the SEC or ajudge,” Dutton said. “We can’t have a second tier [of data] replicationwith a slow restore. It would have to be a process that we couldprocess that data in live, real time.”

Dutton said that because of the high cost of WAN bandwidth, it’s simplytoo expensive to keep data live at an off-site facility that isrestorable in real time.

Storage Networking World is sponsored by Computerworld and the Storage Networking Industry Association.

By Lucas Mearian – Computerworld (US online)