IBM's latest mainframe bets on end-to-end encryption

IBM's latest mainframe bets on end-to-end encryption

IBM is betting big on pervasive encryption with a new mainframe dubbed IBM Z that may land new workloads amid data breaches.

The company said this will enable customers to encrypt all of their data, all of the time - both in transit and at rest. "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". The z14 is even gruntier and bumps that up nearly five fold to 12 billion encrypted transactions per day.

Blanket encryption can help avoid some of the most prevalent types of cyber attacks - however it can also have a negative impact on overall system performance, so it is rarely adopted in corporate data centers. 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.

To demonstrate the use of Z for encryption on cloud services, IBM announced it has opened six new blockchain global data centers in NY, the U.K., Frankfurt, Tokyo, Toronto and Brazil.

IBM also said plans to build six data centres with IBM Z systems carrying out encryption tasks for blockchain services, which provide encrypted records of secure transactions and are aimed primarily at financial services companies.

Besides working for its existing customer base, IBM is hoping the new IBM Z will attract new customers, such as companies that have traditionally used x86 servers (the bulk of the market) and companies that want to provide cloud services, Hurwitz said.

IBM Z is created to help clients comply with standards like EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and it is deeply integrated with IBM Security software.

With the mainframe repositioning, IBM is looking to juice sales of its stalwart z system lineup. While IBM plays an important role in online commerce (its transaction engine handles 87 percent of credit card payments), many companies would likely have to upgrade before you'd see the benefit.

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.

There will be three different pricing models employed by IBM in regard to IBM Z. The specifics of them won't be released until the end of 2017. Application data, cloud data, and data stored in a traditional database can all be encrypted.

Un-encrypted data is an easier target for hackers than encrypted.

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.

At the moment only about 2 percent of business data is encrypted, IBM estimates, in part because doing so can be expensive and can cause significant performance decreases.

This IBM Z capability can be extended beyond the mainframe to other devices, such as storage systems and servers in the cloud.

The centers already built are in Dallas, Frankfurt, London, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and Toronto.

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