Is Hadoop, the open source Big Data platform, as secure as its widespread popularity suggests? The answer is no, according to RainStor, which develops a proprietary database that it bills as the world's most efficient for enterprise deployments. Now, the company says, it is also one of the most secure solutions for storing and analyzing sensitive data on Hadoop and elsewhere, thanks to new encryption, authentication and auditing features unveiled this week.

Founded in 2004 under the name Clearpace and known since 2009 as RainStor, the company specializes in database software for enterprises. Its strengths, as it summarizes them, are high scalability; the flexibility to deploy on-premise, in the cloud or natively on Hadoop; and robust auditory compliance features.

On Tuesday, the latest release of RainStor's database includes security features that the company describes as "the first-ever enterprise security-grade database for Hadoop." In particular, the new version offers:

  • Data Encryption – Scalable, rapid data encryption at rest to protect massive data volumes.
  • Data Masking & Views – New SQL functions to mask sensitive data. When combined with table-level security, these functions ensure that unauthorized users only see masked data.
  • Kerberos/LDAP/Active Directory/PAM support – Standard authorization and authentication.
  • Audit Trail and Tamper-proofing – Built-in auditing functionality to log and track all data changes to meet regulatory compliance requirements.
  • Configurable data disposition (with record-level delete) – Efficient deletion of individual records from tables containing trillions of records in clustered environments, enabling efficient data lifecycle management.

The release also introduces some notable feature enhancements related to search, which is now faster, more efficient and more scalable, according to the company.

But it's the security features that are of greatest note. Although security concerns may not currently be preventing major enterprises from adopting Hadoop as much as RainStor suggests—the Apache Foundation lists plenty of names both big and small of organizations already using the platform—that doesn't mean Hadoop security is not actually a problem. Tighter data-protection and privacy features such as the ones RainStor has introduced could become a major selling point as next-generation Big Data infrastructure matures and enterprises move more sensitive data into it.

And Hadoop isn't the end of the story here. RainStor's software could also prove attractive simply as a more secure database solution in the midst of ongoing database wars. RainStor may face a tough battle on that front—which currently does not even seem to be its major area of focus—against open source databases that are usually free to use and raise no vendor-lock in concerns. Still, where security and privacy are paramount, as they increasingly are in the Big Data world, RainStor has a lot to offer.