IBM's new CPU makes security seamless thanks to powerful encryption

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

With its latest mainframe, IBM is taking on the challenges with encrypting data associated with applications, cloud services and databases.

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.

"There is a global epidemic of data theft".

Ross Mauri, general manager IBM Z, gave out an (unencrypted) canned quote saying: "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".

Given the current climate of fear around hackers and ever-increasing amount of data breaches, IBM obviously believes this system will be an attractive proposition in terms of watertight security and keeping everything encrypted all the time.

The General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR will, among other things, require companies to report breaches within 72 hours or face fines of up to 4 percent of annual revenues - unless the data in question has been encrypted.

The new IBM Z is capable not only of running more than 12-billion encrypted transactions per day, it also features an encryption engine that, for the first time, makes it possible to pervasively encrypt data associated with any application, cloud service or database all the time. As a result, encryption performance is seven times faster than on IBM's previous-generation z13 mainframe and, according to IBM, 18 times faster than systems powered by Intel Corp.'s x86 chips.

IBM say's that the system is created to address the "global epidemic of data breaches" where of the nine billion data records lost or stolen since 2013, only 4% were encrypted.

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Encryption keys can be protected with "tamper responding" hardware that causes keys to be invalidated at any sign of intrusion, so that they can be securely restored. This capability can be extended outside the z14 to storage systems and servers in the cloud.

New regulations including the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), set to take effect next year, are also forcing companies to take more care with the data they handle. The system also provides an audit trail showing if and when permissioned insiders accessed data.

IBM Z will be able to support 12 billion encrypted transactions a day, two million Docker containers and 1,000 concurrent NoSQL databases via three times the memory of the z13 and 3x faster I/O and transaction processing. "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.

Payment systems pricing based on the business metric of payments volume a bank processes, not the available capacity.

The world's largest MongoDB instance with 2,5-times faster NodeJS performance than x86-based platforms. That's possible because the z14 has three times the memory (up to 32 terabytes) and three times faster input-output than its predecessor, and a significant reduction in SAN latency when using zHyperLink.

Of course, IBM is promising this, and has revealed a new pricing strategy called a "container pricing model", but Mauri wouldn't discuss details, so it's hard to know exactly how the company defines "cost-effective".

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.

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