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

IBM Z mainframe ushers in a new era of data protection with pervasive encryption

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. "It's like a security blanket across the entire system - database, applications, data at rest, data in flight, APIs, etc. - that can just be turned on, rather than manually picking and choosing what to encrypt, which typically has led to much [data] remaining unencrypted", he explained. 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 new breakthrough encryption engine makes it possible to encrypt data associated with any application, cloud service or database, end-to-end, all the time. The company on Monday unveiled IBM Z, a next generation mainframe that is is billing as the world's most powerful transaction system. "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. "Of the more than nine billion data records lost or stolen since 2013, only four percent were encrypted, making the vast majority of such data vulnerable to organized cybercrime rings, state actors and employees misusing access to sensitive information".

IBM Z aims to address the problem of data breach. They will face fines of up to 4pc of annual worldwide revenues, or €20m, unless the organisation can demonstrate that data was encrypted and the keys were protected.

IBM Z integrated with IBM Security software, streamlining security and compliance processes.

At the heart of the system is what IBM calls the industry's fastest microprocessor, which runs at 5.2GHz and boasts a new scalable system structure which offers a 35% capacity increase in terms of traditional workloads compared to the previous-generation z13.

The mainframe, called IBM Z or z14, introduces a new encryption engine that for the first time will allow users to encrypt all of their data with one click-in databases, applications or cloud services-with virtually no impact on performance.

IBM Z mainframe ushers in a new era of data protection with pervasive encryption

In addition, IBM is providing "tamper-responding" encryption keys.

Over 150 IBM clients, CISOs, and data security experts are said to have contributed feedback for the design of the system over a three year period. This significantly reduces the time and effort required to meet compliance obligations and complete audits. And the Z is faster overall, regardless of the task at hand: there's three times the memory (a hefty 32TB), three times faster input/output and much lower lag when talking to a storage area network.

Beyond pure encryption, customers also told IBM they wanted this capability delivered in a cost-effective way.

There is coming z/OS software that will provide capabilities for private cloud service delivery, that will include support of workflow extensions for IBM Cloud Provisioning and Management for z/OS and real-time SMF analytics infrastructure support.

All that said, it's probably going to take more than total encryption for a company to spring for a mainframe unless it's core to their business, according to analyst Roger L. Kay from the firm, Endpoint Technologies Associates, Inc.

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