New IBM Z mainframe takes on encryption

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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.

To make such pervasive encryption viable, the z14 has four times as much silicon devoted to cryptographic accelerators as its predecessor, the z13, giving it seven times the cryptographic performance. There can be up to 32TB of memory, three times the z13 maximum, and its IO is three times faster as well. Just as importantly, it offers pervasive encryption so that all data is encrypted all of the time, whether it is part of an application, cloud service, or chunks of bits in a database. IBM has therefore also announced that six IBM Cloud Blockchain data centres will beusing IBM Z as their encryption engine, namely those in Dallas, London, Frankfurt, Sao Paolo, Tokyo and Toronto.

"The pervasive encryption that is built into, and is created to extend beyond, the new IBM Z really makes this the first system with an all-encompassing solution to the security threats and breaches we've been witnessing in the past 24 months", said Peter Rutten, analyst at IDC's servers and compute platforms group.

That allows it to encrypt up to 12 billion transactions per day, according to IBM.

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".

"We can eliminate those classes of users from risk if their IDs get hacked or attacked", he said. This enhancement aligns with Compuware's recent announcement of Application Audit, a product that provides end-to-end visibility into privileged user behavior in order to safeguard against insider threats to mainframe applications and data. Application development and test environments will be tripled so capacity can be raised without a license increase. "But companies that need mainframes to run the backbone of large, complex business systems will find the upgrade to z14 worthwhile", he said.

All that makes it harder for hackers to get in.

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The overall mainframe platform revenues come from IBM's base and not from new hardware sales.

"This is a significant technology that they are bringing to the market", Peter Rutten, analyst for IDC's Servers and Compute Platforms Group, said about the new encryption capabilities.

What would that additional security would cost, though? IBM said the Z represents the "most significant system overhaul" in more than 15 years. It's as if someone told you a Tesla can store away electricity much faster than all the smartphones in your company, and the electricity to run apps on its dashboard is thus way cheaper than that used by all the smartphones: It may well be true, but you'd have to seriously rethink your business's approach to mobility to profit from it.

IBM said it designed IBM Z collaboratively with 150 clients, including security experts and chief security officers. Taking into account the lead times for chip design and manufacturing, it'll take at least two to three years for competing hardware to appear, she said in the report, "Pervasive Encryption: A New Paradigm for Protection".

IBM Z is a new mainframe from IBM with a built-in encryption engine that can protect all of a company's data-in a database, the cloud, or an application.

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