IT&Software

IBM Z mainframe heralds a new era of highly-encrypted data security

IBM Z mainframe heralds a new era of highly-encrypted data security

Touted as "the next generation of the world's most powerful transaction system", the new mainframe is called IBM Z and is apparently capable of running more than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day.

"The vast majority of stolen or leaked data today is in the open and easy to use because encryption has been very hard and expensive to do at scale", said Ross Mauri, General Manager, IBM Z.

The GDPR holds that businesses should encrypt personal data to prevent a compromise of confidentiality, while the FFIEC's guidance states that management should "implement the type and level of encryption commensurate with the sensitivity of the information".

An analysis from Toni Sacconaghi Jr for Bernstein Research says IBM's hardware business is in secular decline, and, while mainframe hardware contributes just 3 per cent of Big Blue's revenues, the overall mainframe platform accounted for almost a quarter of total IBM revenues and an estimated 40 per cent of profits in 2016.

IBM has introduced the 14th generation of its Z series mainframes, which still sell respectably despite repeated predictions of their demise.

The result is a seven times increase in encryption performance over the z13 mainframe and 18 times faster than x86 servers, which make up the bulk of the server market today, IBM claims. IBM said its six new blockchain service centers in Dallas, London, Frankfurt, Sao Paolo, Tokyo, and Toronto are already using the mainframe's cryptographic technology. Engineers have been working on the base technologies for IBM Z for 5 years.

For other workloads, running under either z/OS or Linux, the z14 has 35 percent more capacity than the z13, the company said.

Drawing on 21 years' worth of data about security incidents, the researchers concluded that, "Of the breaches and incursions analyzed, they could reduce the threat surface by 92 percent by having pervasive encryption on IBM Z", said Nick Sardino, IBM's program director for offering management, z Systems Growth Initiatives.

The mainframe will be used initially as an encryption engine for IBM's cloud computing technology and blockchain (distributed ledger technology) services.

Pund-IT analyst Charles King says, however, that the container pricing approach has the potential to be more cost-effective in the long run than earlier mainframe pricing schemes. But as attacks on data increasingly become more frequent and intense, it has become more important to encrypt all the data, wherever they go - at rest or in flight. APIs are used by developers to connect applications or data to cloud services.

There are some applications that can profit from having one of IBM's mysterious black monoliths in the data center today.

The new IBM Z can protect millions of keys - as well as the process of accessing, generating and recycling them - in "tamper responding" hardware that causes keys to be invalidated at any sign of intrusion and can then be restored safely.

These pricing models are scalable within and across logical partitions (LPARs) and provide better metering, capping and billing. Pricing for new microservices and applications can be co-located based on quality of service requirements.

Big Blue is saying that this mainframe is "ushering in a new era of data protection" due to its ability to encrypt data, all the time, and at any scale.

The pricing models are set to be available by the end of this year for IBM's z/OS V2.2 and z/OS V2.3 mainframe operating systems, IBM said.


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