IBM's new mainframe automatically encrypts all your company's data

IBM has launched a new mainframe system capable of running more than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day, in a bid to wade further into the financial cybersecurity market.

IBM unveiled the new Z Mainframe that is created to usher in the new generation of data encryption.

The ability to run Java workloads 50% faster than x86 alternatives.

IBM distinguished engineer Karl Casserly (left) and hardware engineer Rhonda Sundlof (right) test the IBM Z which is manufactured in Poughkeepsie, NY. 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". The mainframe and encryption engine are direct responses the growing number of data breaches, which as become a global epidemic in recent years. As Mauri said, even if hackers could somehow get through all of these defenses, the encryption would render the data useless.

Applications that do need to decrypt the data will run under a special user ID that can access the decryption key - but such user IDs typically cannot be used to log in to the system, making it harder for hackers to both grab a file and decrypt it.

IBM says the new tech will also help businesses more easily comply with data regulations such as the EU's GDPR.

Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Blockchain, commented: "The powerful combination of IBM Z encryption and secure containers differentiates IBM Blockchain services on the cloud by supporting the trust models new blockchain networks require".

IBM says the z14 has 10 per cent more performance per core than z13, and there are up to 170 configurable cores, meaning up to 35 per cent more total capacity in a single footprint compared to a z13.

"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", Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM Z, said in the release. If there is a data breach, cost per record stolen or lost is $16 less than in the past.

Big Blue also said it plans to build six IBM Cloud Blockchain data centers with IBM Z as the encryption engine. Its memory footprint is 32TB, which is three times the size of the previous generation. Also, IBM claimed, the bulk encryption is possible without degrading performance more than about 2 to 4 percent thanks to four times as much silicon circuitry dedicated to encryption. IBM Z is the latest in a series of "z" mainframe systems developed by the corporation.

"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", according to Ross Mauri, general manager at IBM Z, .

Another concern for organizations is protection of encryption keys, and IBM Z handles this with tamper responding hardware that causes keys to self-destruct if there is any sign of intrusion. Because IBM charges customers based on peak workload rates, those container images in many cases can be processed essentially for free at certain times of the day, in much the same way IBM already enables IT organizations to process Linux workloads at a nominal cost alongside zOS workloads, says Desens. 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".

Vanessa Coleman

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