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

Lynne Hanson
July 17, 2017

IBM Z is a new mainframe from IBM with a built-in encryption engine that can protect all of a company's data-in a database, the cloud, or an application.

"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", said Ross Mauri, General Manager for IBM Z.

An analysis from Toni Sacconaghi Jr for Bernstein Research says IBM's hardware business is in secular decline, and, while mainframe hardware contributes just 3 per cent of Big Blue's revenues, the overall mainframe platform accounted for almost a quarter of total IBM revenues and an estimated 40 per cent of profits in 2016.

In a statement provided by IBM, International Data Corp. analyst Peter Rutten called the Z "the first system with an all-encompassing solution to the security threats and breaches we've been witnessing in the past 24 months".

Computer hardware in general and large mainframe-style computers have taken a big hit in the dawning era of cloud computing.

The result is a seven times increase in encryption performance over the z13 mainframe and 18 times faster than x86 servers, which make up the bulk of the server market today, IBM claims. Desens said IBM sees another opportunity for its encryption engine as analytics are combined with blockchain code deployments. "Customers have been engaged for more than 2 years", said Mauri.

The new system also claims to introduce a breakthrough encryption engine that makes it possible to encrypt all transactional data associated with any application, cloud service or database, meaning less worry about cyber crooks and card thieves going insane after taking your card details.

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Pund-IT analyst Charles King says, however, that the container pricing approach has the potential to be more cost-effective in the long run than earlier mainframe pricing schemes.

"We can eliminate those classes of users from risk if their IDs get hacked or attacked", he said. This group includes government agencies and numerous world's largest financial institutions, retailers, healthcare organizations, and insurance firms - in other words, primary targets for professional hackers.

IBM is distributing the data centres broadly in order to reduce latency and to cater to those who need data stored within their country due to regulatory constraints. "Data centers previously had to decide what they would encrypt". IBM's key management system hardware causes keys to self-destruct in response to intrusions, and they are then reconstituted after the intrusion, the company said. "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.

As for pricing, IBM unveiled three container pricing models.

IBM cited research that shows only around 2 percent of corporate data today is encrypted, compared to more than 80 percent of mobile device data.

Even where a business is running development, test and production environments on the same machine, there is cryptographic separation between the environments, Jordan said.

The pricing models are set to be available by the end of this year for IBM's z/OS V2.2 and z/OS V2.3 mainframe operating systems, IBM said.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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