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IBM touts full data encryption in new Z series mainframes

IBM touts full data encryption in new Z series mainframes

The mainframe and encryption engine are direct responses the growing number of data breaches, which as become a global epidemic in recent years.

"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. "The pervasive encryption is the game-changer here", Mike Desens, vice president of offering management for IBM Z, said in an interview. The GDPR will require organizations to report data breaches within 72 hours or face fines of up to 4 percent of annual revenue.

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. That capability makes applying and managing encryption much simpler when compared to a previous approach that required much more special skills and was significantly more labor intensive, says Desens.

Encryption keys can be protected with "tamper responding" hardware that causes keys to be invalidated at any sign of intrusion, so that they can be securely restored.

It hopes the new mainframe will enable companies to comply with new data protection laws, such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the U.S.'s Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) guidance on the use of encryption in the financial services industry. Obviously, if data is spilled or stolen somehow, at least if it's encrypted, it can't be used by cybercriminals (or that's the theory).

Apparently IBM Z offers a fourfold increase in the silicon dedicated to cryptographic algorithms, and has had its software stack fully reworked, so that it's now capable of running more than 12 billion encrypted transactions on a daily basis.

IBM Z also has the ability to "self-destruct" encryption keys if any tampering is detected. As a result, the company notes only about 2 percent of corporate data is encrypted today, while more than 80 percent of mobile device data is encrypted. What that translates into is being able to encrypt up to 13GB of data per second per chip, with there being around 24 chips per mainframe. This will reduce the complexity and mounting cost of compliance for auditors. 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". In an example of IBM Z as an encryption engine for cloud services, IBM today announced the opening of six new IBM Blockchain Global Data Centers in New York, United Kingdom, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Toronto and Brazil all secured using IBM Z, as the company scales this service to global organizations. "Enterprise clients also benefit from the ease of use making management transparent to the application and the user". Users can now colocate applications to optimize qualities of services that are priced competitively with public cloud and on-premises platforms. Customers can triple capacity with no increase in monthly license charge.

We do know the pricing will be based upon volume of payments, new microservices and applications, and application and test environments. It is scalable both within and across LPARs (logical partitions) and delivers enhanced metering, capping and billing capabilities.

As for pricing, IBM unveiled three container pricing models.

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