Is it good news from Sun Microsystems, if you are in the market for a generic communication protocol between a key manager and an encrypting device? Sun has announced what it claims to be the release of the first such protocol into an open source community as part of the Open Storage initiative. Promising choice and value, the protocol is being implemented as a complete toolkit downloadable from the OpenSolaris website.

Sun hopes that by releasing the protocol as open source it is another giant leap towards unifying the technology, and it promises to continue working with partners in the industry and with appropriate standards bodies such as IEEE 1619.3 Working Group and OASIS to further develop and formalize the interface as an industry standard. The protocol is being made available to customers using Sun StorageTek KMS 2.0 Key Manager and Sun StorageTek T9840D, T10000A, T10000B Enterprise Drives, plus the Sun StorageTek HP LTO4 drives shipped in Sun libraries.

But I am not a hundred percent sure how this declared unification and industry standard intent gels with the announcement coming just five days after a bunch of companies including EMC, HP and IBM made their own announcement of a proposed encryption key management standard. The Key Management Interoperability Protocol (KMIP) was proposed via the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) although a finished protocol is not expected any time real soon it has to be said.

"Open Storage solutions allows customers to break free from the chains of proprietary hardware and software and this new protocol extends this lifeline into the expensive and highly fragmented encryption market," said Jason Schaffer, senior director, storage product management, Sun Microsystems, Inc. "Open source equals customer value for encryption solutions and Sun now offers the only solution on the market that works across multiple vendors and suppliers."