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Voltage SecureData Add On for Vertica

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From the first line of code, Vertica was built for a volume of data that was both unimaginable and unmanageable in the world of row-based relational databases.  Today, our customers in every industry are loading hundreds of terabytes and tens of petabytes into Vertica, while at the same time, managing even larger data volumes in their overflowing data lakes.  The goal of every industry is to capture as much data as possible to drive customer engagement, operational efficiency, predictive maintenance, fraud prevention…the list goes on and on. But the bottom line is simple: data-driven organizations will both disrupt and lead in every industry.  

securedata.PNGThere is, however, one very important exception to this widely accepted belief.  The companies or industries that find themselves on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and in front of a very angry judge due to a massive data breach will be forced to spend their data-driven earnings on legal representation, punitive damages and the nearly impossible task of rebuilding trust with their customers.  This situation, sadly, is not an “if” discussion – it’s a “who.”  That’s why the recent announcement of the Voltage SecureData Add On for Vertica customers is such a big deal, one that can make a real difference and help keep our customers away from ugly WSJ headlines.

Our Vertica customers have some of the largest data repositories in the world, and that makes them all very high-profile targets. So what can they do?  Well, that’s easy, right?  Just encrypt the data!  After all, my mobile phone number is much harder to leverage if it looks like this, “938u45938459.”  And my Social Security number can never be leveraged by hackers if it looks like this, “slijalsd.”  So, what’s the problem?

Traditional solutions encrypt the stored data.  The problem is that when that data needs to move into an application or be utilized for analytics, the data must be decrypted.  That means the data is decrypted while “in flight” (moving from the storage to the application) and for the application itself.  The only truly secure way to protect enterprise data is to put the control on the data itself using format preserving encryption (FPE) and enabling the protection to persist as the data moves from storage to in-flight to in-use within applications. Formats and schemas are built into applications and if the data doesn’t fit into the formats and schemas that the application expects, the application cannot work. The same is true for the analytical workloads that our Vertica customers depend on for ad targeting, supply/demand management, customer behavior analytics and so much more.  By applying encryption to the data elements that are sensitive while keeping de-identified data in the clear (and preserving the format!), the data remains usable to applications without giving up the sensitive bits.

As an example, take a credit card number where the credit card information is masked and the routing information enables movement through the payment processing lifecycle, as well as providing the details of the purchase to the analyst community who is delivering predictive revenue reports based on customer behavior analytics.  The point here, is that the data that is loaded into Vertica is not just used for analytics but must be useable by other applications as well—while still fully protected.  With Voltage, the end-to-end process removes the security gaps that typically occur when decrypting data out of storage and moving that data into applications for use— with the Voltage software, the data remains protected but also useable during its entire journey. 

Voltage SecureData integrates with the Vertica analytics platform utilizing a custom connector.  Encryption adds workload and if the connector is not written with the highest level of efficiency, the analytics performance will be impacted.  With the release of Vertica 9.1, the Vertica Voltage connector, written by our Vertica Engineering team, provides top notch integration and best of breed performance.  For a more comprehensive understanding of the Vertica Voltage integration and the technical aspects of the Voltage technology, I strongly recommend you click RIGHT HERE to the My.Vertica blog post which goes into a very useful level of detail.

But having a strong and working product is not enough.  Voltage SecureData software is traditionally priced per server which makes sense for many deployments like Hadoop.  But Vertica Premium is priced per TB and trying to combine TB pricing with Server pricing is not well aligned and can sometimes make the security encryption software out of balance with the Vertica analytics platform itself.  The new Voltage Vertica Add On offering is priced per TB and is now easily combined with current or new Vertica license capacity.

In closing, let’s remember that security, data privacy, breaches, ransomware and more are top of mind for every Board of Directors, every CEO and every news journalist who is waiting for the next inevitable story to break.  This attention means a much shorter sales cycle because every company needs to show it is taking action.   And for me, with a history of dealing with public relations and brand crises over decades in the software industry, I want to leave you with one final and very important fact:  If a data breach occurs, if data is stolen, if data is leaked, or data falls into the wrong hands, GDPR (the world’s most demanding and comprehensive data privacy regulation) requires the details must be shared with public authorities within 24 hours…EXCEPT if that data is encrypted and therefore no longer PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE DATA.  Just imagine the moment when our Vertica champion must report that the company’s software infrastructure has been compromised but the data has not.  That’s the kind of protection I want us to provide to all of our customers.

Want to learn more about Vertica? Get up and running in minutes with Vertica by the Hour on AWS or download the Community Edition directly onto whatever infrastructure works best for you.  Still in the research phase?  We’ve got you covered there too! Here is all you need to know about Predictive Analytics powered by Vertica’s Machine Learning and look me up on Twitter if you want to talk more.


About the Author
Joy leads Vertica’s Product Management, Product Marketing and Field Engagement. Her team is responsible for Vertica’s product strategy and all of the marketing content and messaging that educates and informs customers, analysts, media and the Vertica Field organization. Joy is also responsible for employee communications. During more than three decades in the information technology industry, Joy has enjoyed extensive sales, business development, partner management and marketing responsibilities and she has a visible passion for the impact that Vertica is making on the world.
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