Storage and security represent two technologies that have circled each for nearly two decades with negligible success in coming together. That may have finally changed this week. StorMagic’s acquisition of KeyNexus represents a union of security and storage that finally makes sense for everyone involved.
Security and Storage: A Dubious History
The technology industry has talked about – and attempted to – unite security and storage for at least the past 20 years. In almost all cases, those efforts went mostly for naught. The last few years alone saw providers that once attempted to merge security and storage go their separate ways.
The rationale for them uniting in the first place never really panned out. Initially, they envisioned heightened synergies between security and storage. Yet, ultimately, these synergies never came to fruition.
Different people in enterprises made the final decisions on each that inhibited their integration. Further, storage technologies often ran in secure, isolated environments, and security solutions did not properly address key management for every environment or workflow. As a result, security did not provide enough value-add to storage or vice versa for them to ever fully unite.
Different Environment, Different Requirements
Despite security and storage’s problematic past, StorMagic’s acquisition of KeyNexus suddenly makes sense. The logic behind this acquisition stems from the respective environments in which each one operates.
The StorMagic SvSAN storage technology operates primarily in edge computing environments. Edge environments differ significantly from core data center environments where enterprises have traditionally deployed storage technologies.
In these edge environments, enterprises want their storage to have all the attributes that their core data center technologies possess. They include high availability, reliability, recoverability, manageability, simplicity and scalability, among others. However now, unlike the past, they also include security among the “other” features that they want storage solutions in edge environments to possess.
Enterprise Key Management an Edge Storage Requirement
Storing data in an edge environment presents a unique security challenge that rarely exists in data center environments. I cannot think of a single instance where I heard of someone walking out of a data center with a server or storage array. Even if it has occurred, it is a rarity.
The exact opposite situation exists in edge locations. SvSAN may be deployed into edge environments that have minimal or no security. Further, SvSAN requires only nominal amounts of server hardware to operate – as little as two 1U servers. As a result, anyone can potentially and literally walk off with the entire edge solution – servers, storage and the software within (hypervisor, SvSAN, applications, etc…).
While StorMagic SvSAN offers data encryption as an optional feature, that only partially solves the security problem. StorMagic did not natively offer any key management functionality. Further exacerbating the problem, SvSAN often gets deployed into enterprises with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of locations. Trying to create and manage separate keys in all these locations makes it challenging if not impossible for enterprises to properly implement and manage.
This situation explains why a storage company’s (StorMagic) acquisition of a security company (KeyNexus) finally makes sense. The KeyNexus Unified Key Manager, now available as SvKMS, provides enterprises with the key management functionality that their edge locations need.
Rather than each edge location needing to assign and manage its own encryption keys, enterprises can centrally deploy SvKMS. Once deployed, they can use it to assign keys to all their SvSAN-based edge locations. Used this way, they can confidently turn on SvSAN’s encryption feature. Using SvKMS, they know they can decrypt data at any of the sites since they have the keys to unlock it.
StorMagic’s SvKMS simultaneously solves a larger industry challenge. Encryption is everywhere these days – at the edge, in the datacenter, and in the cloud. StorMagic SvKMS is an Enterprise Key Management system that can manage encryption keys in any and all of those locations. SvKMS therefore provides enterprises with the means to consolidate disparate key management systems and processes using one common management tool.
A Sensible Union of Security and Storage
I have waited for years for a practical reason for security and storage to come together and sensibly unite. In the past, putting these two technologies in the same room always seemed strained and rarely created sufficient value.
The rise of edge computing technologies combined with the need for enterprise security finally changes that argument. Enterprises want highly availability, reliable, scalable, simple storage solutions at the edge to meet their growing application and data requirements. However, they do not want to compromise the security of the data they store in that location.
StorMagic’s acquisition of KeyNexus combined with its immediate release of SvKMS addresses this edge security problem that enterprises possess. It offers them a solution that delivers both enterprise storage and security attributes with the simplicity of the edge, effectively bringing the edge to the core. This acquisition serves as a model for what all future security and storage mergers should look like as the end result is a solution that finally makes sense.