Servers: The Right Compute
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Data Protection: HPE Secure Compute Lifecycle When You Need a Bigger Boat



Data protection has never been more important. From testing to manufacturing to deployment, HPE servers and drives provide unmatched security. Learn more.

HPE SSD HDD Firmware_blog.jpgRemember the movie Jaws? That iconic music started playing and even before you saw what it was, you knew there was danger. Unfortunately for us, cyberthreats don’t announce themselves so blatantly. But their danger is no less real than that great white shark.

Our industry faces more vulnerabilities and smarter criminals. Just consider that there are over 500,000 breach attempts every minute1 and it takes close to 100 days to detect a threat2.

In July, HPE announced a New Compute Experience powered by the world’s most secure industry standard servers – HPE Gen10 Compute platform.3 Compute, however, isn’t limited to just the server, but includes the entire infrastructure with the networking and storage that controls it.

A sometimes overlooked vulnerability to your data can be found in your server storage drives. Some people assume that all drives are created equal. But in fact, there are some critical differences that could impact the performance of your servers and, in the worst case, compromise your data.       

HPE hard disk drives and solid-state drives offer benefits that go far beyond off-the-shelf drives. Two key differentiators are our testing and qualification processes, as well as HPE digitally signed firmware. In the Are Hard Drives the Walking Dead? blog post last month, I outlined HPE’s testing and qualification process, which includes over 3.35 million hours of arduous drive testing under real world and extreme conditions.  Now, let’s take a look at HPE’s digitally signed firmware.

So, you may be asking yourself, what’s so important about drive firmware and why does it matter to the performance of my drives?

After all, every drive must have firmware to operate. But even when they have identical specifications on paper, not all hard disk drives and not all solid-state drives are the same.

And, it may surprise you to know that there isn’t an industry standard for firmware. What that means is that firmware varies from supplier to supplier and sometimes even from drive to drive from the same supplier.

HPE digitally signed firmware offers some key advantages worth considering, including:

  • Predictable functionality and performance—tuned to HPE ProLiant servers
  • Enhanced cooling—firmware works in tandem with thermal sensors and HPE Integrated Lights Out (iLO) management engine to regulate cooling in HPE drives
  • Optimized storage management—HPE Smart Storage Administrator (HPE SSA) is an online configuration and diagnostic tool in conjunction with HPE Smart Array controllers for additional control
  • HPE Smart SSD Wear Gauge—continually calculates and reports SSD endurance
  • Security—digitally signed firmware adds another layer of assurance that drive firmware has come from a trusted source and hasn’t been altered preventing malicious attacks to your data

There’s an iconic (ad-libbed) line in Jaws. The sheriff, after first seeing the size of the shark, tells the captain, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!” The size of the shark could be the size of the potential threats to your data. Digitally signed firmware protects your data at the drive level, but what about the rest of the server? At HPE, security may start with the drives, but it doesn’t end there.

HPE servers: the only servers in the industry with major firmware anchored into the silicon

The silicon root of trust provides impenetrable protection through the entire supply chain: manufacturing, distribution, shipping, configuration and installation. It starts protecting our servers early in the production process and all the way through the product lifecycle. 

Once the server arrives safely to you, we continue, what we call the HPE Secure Compute Lifecycle, by providing not only protection during operation, but also unparalleled detection and recovery capabilities. From boot to business, our silicon root of trust provides protection because as soon as the server is booted & iLO firmware comes alive, it looks into the silicon for the immutable fingerprint that verifies all the firmware code is valid and uncompromised.  Over a million lines of firmware code run, before the operating system starts, making it essential to confirm that all server essential firmware is free from malware or compromised code. 

During operation of the server, HPE has a new technology that conducts run-time firmware verification that checks the firmware stored in the server.  At any point, if compromised code or malware is inserted in any of the critical firmware, an iLO audit log alert is created to notify the customer that a compromise has occurred.

In the unlikely event of a breach into the HPE server firmware, after detection has been completed, you may then securely recover the firmware automatically to a previous known good state. 

HPE Secure Compute Lifecycle is the “bigger boat”

From our testing to drive firmware, to the silicon root of trust, we are as serious about threats to your data as you are and we want to keep you safe in the boat.

To learn more read: Driving HDD and SSD value with HPE Firmware. Or learn more about visit click the world’s most secure industry-standard servers here.


1 CNBC, Biggest Cyber Security Threats in 2016 Derek Manky, Fortinet global security strategist

2  Mandiant M-Trends, Trends from the Year’s Breaches and Cyber Attacks, 2016.

3 Based on external firm conducting cyber security penetration testing of a range of server products from a range of manufacturers, May 2017.




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About the Author


Michael Pratt’s passion is helping customers go further. His job is making products that make servers go further. He spends his days connecting the two.

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