IBM including total encryption in their z14 mainframes


IBM is doing everything it can to keep the mainframe usage in today’s circumstances, and there are still buyers – some large corporations from all over the globe still use these machine’s from the computing earliest days. IBM today presented latest mainframe model of the z Series, called z14. And allegedly it has full encryption.

Ross Mauri, general manager of the z Systems said they spent a couple of years talking to 150 customers to try to understand what do users of the mainframe need and upgrade it. Mauri said that the most common request was to “encrypt everything so we don’t have to worry about it.”

So they did it: “[Full Encryption] was the most needed capability, and it solves a real-world problem. There’s a cyber war out there with highly funded groups looking for data and getting it. Our purpose is shutting that down,” he said.

They did that by first encrypting every level of the system, and then putting everything in encrypted containers. Even if somebody breached this, system will turn itself off right away. Even if hackers could somehow get through all of these defenses, the encryption would render the data useless, said Mauri.

An analyst with IDC, Peter Rutten explained that total encryption is the crucial part of this release: “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,”

Companies said that beside full encryption they want this to be delivered in a cost effective way. Although Mauri did not discuss any details, IBM allegedly agreed to this and has revealed they have come up with a new pricing called a “container pricing model.”

“Container pricing is a more flexible approach that should result in system billing more accurately reflecting the amount of work the system is used to accomplish [a given task], thus making the z14 more cost-effective,” said Charles King, Pund-IT analyst.

According to analyst Roger L. Kay total encryption is probably not enough to keep the mainframes in the game. “No, I don’t think a company would buy a mainframe just for the encryption. But companies that need mainframes to run the backbone of large, complex business systems will find the upgrade to z14 worthwhile,” Roger said.

After all the talks with customers, and work on improving the mainframes, Mauri says he is satisfied with z14 model, and the fact that it is going to sell well.