Xyratex, subsidiary of hard drive manufacturer Seagate, is targeting organizations that place a premium on military-grade security with a new line of integrated storage systems. Seagate acquired Xyratex, a high performance computing (HPC) data storage specialist and hard drive testing equipment maker, for $374 million in December.

Called the ClusterStor Secure Data Appliance (SDA), the product is based on Xyratex’s ClusterStor 6000 modular storage systems for HPC environments. The difference, according to Don Grabski, senior director of product management for the company, is that the new offering has been engineered “specifically for the defense and intelligence community” that maintains his company’s legacy of providing “scale-out petascale storage capability,” he told InfoStor.

According to the company, SDA can help government agencies manage massive sets of data. In particular, it’s well suited for applications like geospatial imagery capture, “which requires high performance ingest rates, massively parallel data access to support intensive data analysis and large data storage capacity archive,” said Xyratex in a statement.

A common way of managing varying levels of security clearance within top secret organizations is to deploy separate storage, compute and networking for each level of security. It’s a segmented approach that may keep data safe, but it also adds complexity and makes it costly to operate a data center.

The answer is a multi-level storage security framework based on “modifications made to Lustre,” the open source distributed file system for clusters, said Grabski. Security administrators can set per-file labels based on security classification, shifting the burden of meeting confidentiality standards from the access control systems of segregated networks and storage infrastructures to the SDA. The approach makes it possible to secure varying classification levels on just one system.

Enabling “enormous cost reduction,” the system puts storage consolidation projects within reach for organizations with stringent security requirements at scale, said Grabski. ClusterStor SDA represents a “new security paradigm for big data” and petascale storage, he added.

The underlying ClusterStor 6000 architecture can deliver up to 42 GB per second of sustained reads and writes and well over a petabyte of storage per rack (1,691 TB using 4 TB SAS hard drives). The 6000 can scale up to 93.4 PB per single file system and handle up to 2.4 billion files.

Unique to the ClusterStor is support for U.S. Government ICD 503 and Cross Domain Solution (CDS) requirements, including Multi Level, Protection Level 4. The security standard describes practices employed by the intelligence community to ensure strict adherence to user access policies to data on IT systems.

Xyratex’s Ken Claffey, vice president and general manager of ClusterStor, said his company’s latest product combines “low level data access enforcement and logging mechanisms, purpose-built within a proven HPC and Big Data single-system solution.” Asserting that ClusterStor customers “need to know exactly who is doing what on their systems” and require access to complete audit trails, “ClusterStor SDA delivers all the necessary tools and support to collaboratively share information, while strictly complying with security data protection standards,” he added.