Briefing Note: Imation focuses on locking down High-Value Data

There is a new data type that IT professionals need to be concerned with: high-value data. This is unstructured (file) data typically created by users, that has organizationally sensitive information in it and needs to be protected from tampering, loss or corruption. The problem is that this data is also very transient, often created and stored on an employee’s laptop, tablet or thumb drive. Imation is leveraging its Assureon and IronKey solutions to lock this data down while still keeping it accessible. This is a technology initiative they call the “Secure Data Movement Architecture” (SDMA).

How Data Breeches and Leakage Happens

There are plenty of quotable headlines to communicate the dangers of data breeches. But these headlines take the spotlight off of the most common form of data loss, data leakage. As its name implies data leakage is a more gradual loss of data, often the result of a mistake like a misplaced thumb drive or lost device, in other words human error.

The reality is that IT can’t stop humans from being human. What IT needs to do is minimize the company’s exposure when leakage occurs. This means first making sure that the lost data can be recovered and second, making sure that lost copy of data can’t be read.

The Imation Secure Data Movement Architecture (SDMA)

Imation’s goal in protecting and safeguarding high-value data is to make sure it is covered from “hand-to-cloud”. Their solution is designed to protect high-value data from loss, leakage, destruction (accidental or purposeful) or unauthorized resurrection, all while managing that data through policy based control and security.

At the heart of this architecture are Imation’s Assureon and IronKey solutions. Assureon provides a secure archive repository for high-value data. All data is “fingerprinted” and that fingerprint is constantly rechecked to ensure data integrity. Individual files on the unit can be encrypted either manually of by policy. All changes to data on the system are logged for full immutability.

IronKey provides a secure, encrypted thumb drive for mobile data transport. Devices can only read the IronKey with the decryption software installed on them. If the drive is lost and installed in another laptop the data can’t be read. There is also a version of IronKey that is a full PC on a stick. Imation claims that these are ideal for BYOD and contractor deployments. If either type of device is lost the encryption key can be changed and the device becomes useless.

There are other components of SDMA that Imation is busily working to deliver, like a file sharing and collaboration solution and a cloud archive solution.

StorageSwiss Take

Imation bought Nexsan over two years ago and now Imation emerges with SDMA. While SDMA is a solid strategy and one that Imation should continue with, we do wish it was more complete. For right now it is a vision more than it is a solution. But the foundational components Assureon and IronKey are there and certainly customers would do well to start with these while Imation completes the rest of the solution set.

Imation has its work cut out for it. They need to get the Nexsan (beyond just Assureon) brand back in front of IT professionals because it is still an excellent product. They also need to convince IT Professionals that archive solutions like Assureon and IronKey are something that they need now while they wait for the complete SDMA.

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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