IBM Unveils Next-Generation Mainframe Technology with Pervasive Encryption

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IBM launched what it calls “the next generation of the world’s most powerful transaction system,” IBM Z, on Monday. The technology is able to run more than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day, and introduces an encryption engine which it says makes it possible for the first time to pervasively encrypt data from any application, cloud service, or database.

Only four percent of the nine billion records have been stolen since 2013 were encrypted, according to IBM, and cybercrime will have an $8 trillion impact on the global economy by 2022, necessitating new data encryption capabilities. The company compares the impact of IBM Z on mainframe technology to its embrace of Linux and open source software over a decade ago.

“The vast majority of stolen or leaked data today is in the open and easy to use because encryption has been very difficult and expensive to do at scale,” said Ross Mauri, General Manager, IBM Z. “We created a data protection engine for the cloud era to have a significant and immediate impact on global data security.”

IBM Z can be extended across any data networks, external devices, or applications without changing the application or business SLAs, according to the announcement. It also addresses the performance degradation issues that IBM chiefly blames for only 2 percent of corporate data being encrypted, while more than 80 of data on mobile devices is. IBM says Z encrypts data 18 times faster than x86 platforms for five percent of the cost.

Among IBM Z’s other features, “tamper responding” hardware temporarily invalidates keys at any sign of intrusion, as part of a key management system designed to meet Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Level 4. IBM says it helps automate and streamline compliance processes, making it easier for organizations to deal with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as similar guidance from Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) and the New York State Department of Financial Services Cybersecurity Requirements for Financial Services Companies.

One of the first deployments of IBM Z is at six IBM Cloud data centers as the encryption engine for cloud services and IBM Blockchain services from Dallas, London, Frankfurt, Sao Paolo, Tokyo, and Toronto. A collaboration between IBM and AngelHack to launch a global virtual hackathon “Unchain the Frame” was also announced, with more than $50,000 in prizes.

Three new container pricing models for IBM Z were also announced, designed to provide greater predictability and transparency.

The performance capabilities of IBM Z are far beyond that of x86 systems and z13, the company says, to enable the next generation of transaction and payment technologies, such as instant pay.

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