EMC will add data encryption to its storage arrays using the technology it picked up from last month's acquisition of RSA Security.

The decision will turn storage arrays into public-key infrastructure (PKI) devices, using the CPU cycles of the arrays to speed up the encryption and decryption process.

EMC expects to ship products within 12 to 18 months, according to senior marketing manager Rob Sadowski. "We are in the process of investigating what is the best way to implement encryption in all our disk arrays ... to encrypt the actual volumes where data may be stored," he said.

EMC has not decided whether it will use its midrange Clariion or high-end Symmetrix array line as the platform for the encryption engine. Providing the technology within the disk array itself would enable users to encrypt an entire database or multiple data volumes using their standard software management tools, without having to deploy, configure and learn new platforms or a separate appliance, Sadowski said.

Since the encryption would be performed with the processing power of the storage array's controller, it should reduce load on the network and on servers. At the same time, EMC wants to be sure the encryption capability doesn't slow down the performance of the storage array, Sadowski said.

EMC is planning to incorporate RSA's PKI management capabilities into the array as well. The storage array would be used to back up key management information, authenticate key users and provide the appropriate key to appropriate parties. "These capabilities would address common problems, such as how to prevent database administrators from viewing sensitive data within their databases, as well as how to assure the integrity of information shared by multiple departments, or even multiple companies on the same storage," Sadowski said.