Presto crypto: IBM releases gruntier, faster Z14 mainframe


IBM has trumpeted what it's calling a huge breakthrough in data encryption and the battle against cybercriminals, with a next-gen mainframe computer driven by a powerful CPU which is capable of encrypting all of a company's data, all the time. "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.

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 Z goes against standard practices for encryption by encrypting in bulk at cloud scale. IBM said the dedicated silicon means cryptographic performance is about 18 times faster than current x86 systems. "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.

IBM, whose Watson artificial-intelligence system got slammed last week by one analyst, is hoping that a focus on encryption will make the Z more appealing at a time when major security breaches are almost a daily occurrence.

IBM Z aims to address the problem of data breach.

IBM Z integrated with IBM Security software, streamlining security and compliance processes. The result is a mainframe that is 18x faster than a x86 system that is focused on only limited chunks of data.

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IBM Z encryption can be used to advance cryptography technology, since it makes it possible for organizations to encrypt all data associated with applications, cloud services or databases with one click, said IBM. Only IBM Z can protect millions of keys (as well as the process of accessing, generating and recycling them) in "tamper responding" hardware that causes keys to be invalidated at any sign of intrusion and can then be reconstituted in safety. This significantly reduces the time and effort required to meet compliance obligations and complete audits. At the time we wrote it was grunty enough to do "real time encryption of all mobile transactions at any scale" up to a claimed 2.5 billion transactions a day. There can be up to 32TB of memory, three times the z13 maximum, and its IO is three times faster as well.

For one, IBM has been steadily improving its encryption algorithms in recent years.

It's the latest addition to the company's established system z range of mainframes, and the most significant repositioning of the technology since IBM embraced Linux and open source on the platform about 15 years ago. The system runs at 5.2GHz and can support up to 2 million Docker containers or 1,000 concurrent NoSQL databases.

Industry-leading Storage Area Network response time with zHyperLink, delivering 10-times latency reduction compared to the z13 and cutting application response time in half - enabling businesses to do much more work such as real-time analytics or interact with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and cloud applications within the same transaction, without changing a single line of application code.