NetApp has bought Decru, supplier of the DataFort encryption appliance. This encrypts files on their way to disk and helps prevent malicious access.

Encryption has become more mainstream. The well-publicised loss of Time Warner backup tapes by Iron Mountain and the unauthorised access of Bank of America files for identity theft purposes has brought the subject to the fore. New encryption products are being announced:-

- DISUK has announced its £9,995 SafeTape product combining an encryption appliance with a tape drive
- Both Veritas and Dantz backup products include encryption options
- disgo has its Xkey encrypted USB flash memory device.

Dan Warmenhoven, CEO of Network Appliance, said: "In an era where data is a precious asset and security threats to that data are accelerating, encryption is a key element of any data infrastructure. Decru has established an early lead in the data security space. The combination of Decru with NetApp strengthens our own data protection portfolio and gives more customers the opportunity to purchase Decru products."

Clearly NetApp believes it can sell a lot of Decru product to its own customers and make money thereby.

Decru encryption is not limited to NetApp storage and can be deployed transparently with a wide variety of vendors' storage systems within companies who use NAS, DAS, SAN, iSCSI, and tape backup. Suresh Vasudevan, NetApp's VP product marketing, said: "There is strong synergy with Decru's relationships with other storage suppliers and they'll continue." To help this Decru will become an independent business unit inside NetApp and thus preserve its brand and identity.

NetApp also sees possibilities for Decru with its own back up to disk and disaster recovery products with, for example, Alacritus virtual tape files being encrypted.

Encryption is a demanding application, sucking up lots of CPU cycles. It makes sense to offload it from application servers. Decru was early into the market with its DataFort and has built up a relationship with NetApp. A few days ago the two announced a bundled CardVault product. This is a dedicated encryption facility for storing credit and debit card payment data. Such functionality is mandated by Visa and Master Card.

The prospect is that NetApp will embed Decru technology inside its storage arrays. Then NAS and SAN data can be encrypted and provide a third layer of protection inside layer one - perimeter firewalls, and layer 2 - access controls based on identity management.

Consolidation in the storage market continues apace, witness Sun's purchase of StorageTek. NetApp recently purchased Alacritus for its virtual tape library technology and continuous data protection ideas. Its pace of acquisitions has accelerated in recent months as it acquires technology needed for its intention of becoming a storage utility/grid supplier.

It is paying $272 million in stock and cash for Decru. The acquisition is scheduled to complete by October this year.