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Hifn, Trebia team up to advance secure storage gateways

Posted: 03 Apr 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Hifn? Trebia Networks? SAN? Internet Protocol? processor?

Semiconductor designers Hifn Inc. and Trebia Networks Inc. will team up to create a reference design for a new class of security gateway for SANs now in development at a half-dozen companies. The partners hope the reference design will speed the adoption of secure Internet Protocol technology in SANs.

A number of companies are reluctant to move to IP-based storage products in part because of the high costs of delivering the IPsec security protocol to each port in a SAN. Hifn and Trebia said the approach embodied in their reference design will reduce those costs. They will also develop and publish a migratory road map that shows how security will eventually be handled on every device in a SAN.

The Hifn and Trebia partnership started after the two companies realized they shared design wins at a handful of companies working on emerging SAN gateway systems planned for launch later this year. At least three startups and two established companies are designing the SAN gateways using Hifn's security processors for IPsec, and many of them are also using Trebia's chips, which aggregate and terminate Fibre Channel and SCSI traffic over IP networks.

The companies are in a final test phase of their reference design, which uses Hifn's HIPP II security processor and Trebia's Storage Network Processor. The two companies are not currently engaged in any joint development of next-generation processors.

"There's a strong possibility we will work on joint product offerings in the future," said Brendon Howe, vice president of marketing for Trebia. "But in the short term we want to focus on helping customers sort out the issues with migrating IPsec into IP storage networks."

"There's a lot of confusion about the whole security aspect for SANs. People think IPsec has to be delivered everywhere in the SAN," said Russell Dietz, chief technology officer for Hifn. "We want to educate people about what the real model for security is in the IP storage arena."

The storage gateways themselves are very similar to other systems on the network edge, differing mainly in their back-end interfaces to protocols such as iSCSI to the SAN, Dietz said.

Storage networks can migrate from a model of using the gateways as the security cops for a SAN to a model that uses secure IP tunneling of traffic from a given set of users to a given storage subsystem, the companies said. SANs can migrate eventually to an any-to-any model where each subsystem or end point in the SAN has full capabilities to handle cryptography and issue digital certificates, but Dietz said that can be very costly and create a complex environment to manage.

The two companies said they see the large storage systems makers?including Compaq, EMC, IBM and Sun?poised for a move into IP-based systems. "The infrastructure today is almost 100 percent Fibre Channel, but a great majority of these companies are looking at IP-based products in the near term," Howe said.

In addition, a number of companies are hammering out business plans to host online storage services. And the Internet Engineering Task Force is expected to complete work this year on standards for running the storage-oriented SCSI and Fibre Channel protocols over IP, specifying IPsec as the security mechanism.

Trebia is expected to release its Storage Network Processors within six weeks. The million-gate chips include a TCP offload engine and are expected to support IP SAN connections at about $75 per port.

? Rick Merritt

EE Times

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