The 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB MLC solid-state drives from Samsung will ship with Trusted Computing Group's OPAL standard certified AES 128-bit encryption stored in silicon in the SSD hardware. Wave Systems' Embassy Trusted Drive Manager software will also be built into Dell's ControlPoint software for local, individual management of drives. For deployment in the enterprise, IT administrators would need to separately purchase the Embassy Remote Administration Server (ERAS) for centrally managing encryption authentication on the corporate network.
According to Dell senior product manager Craig Durr, the cost of encryption should add between $50 and $75 per workstation. Brian Beard, SSD marketing manager at Samsung, also acknowledged that the battery life of laptops could be affected by a higher-performing solid-state drive. "The drives use significantly less power, but if the performance is higher, the processor has to work at a higher speed – sometimes you can get shorter battery life," he said. "But you can also get much more work done in that same time period with SSD."
With fewer moving parts than mechanical drives, the execs said solid-state drives are a more reliable alternative to the small form factor self-encrypting drives Dell and other PC makers already ship. But Andrew Reichman, a senior analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., questioned that idea given that the drives are consumer-grade MLC. "I would have to ask, why?" he said. "What's the purpose? For the majority of users, workstation performance is not an issue – and MLC drives raise questions about reliability as opposed to SLC [single-level cell] drives."
Centrally managing encryption on laptops "solves a significant problem in the enterprise – centralized key management and data loss prevention," Reichman said. But he predicts that in the long run more companies will do this by centralizing data storage and delivering it to mobile devices on-demand rather than encrypting the devices themselves. "Companies want some way to get control over their data," he said. "That's more important than offering higher performance."