New IBM Mainframe Promises Advanced Security for Hybrid Clouds

IBM on Tuesday introduced the z13s, a mainframe computer system optimized for hybrid cloud deployment. The z13s is designed to provide advanced cryptography for mid-sized firms that need a high level of data protection.

The advanced cryptography includes built-in hardware security features that effectively double the speed of data encryption and decryption over prior generations of computers without compromising overall performance of the system, the company said.

IBM has integrated the mainframe technology with its IBM Security software solutions, and it has made available to z system customers a new Cyber Security Analytics service that will help identify malicious activity by learning behavior over time.

It has partnered with several security firms under its Ready for IBM Security Intelligence partner program to enhance security for z customers:BlackRidge Technology, which authenticates user or device identity before network connections are made;Forcepoint, which offers a Trusted Thin Client system that secures sensitive data at its endpoint; andRSM Partners, which offers penetration testing and security reviews.

“Fast and secure transaction processing is core to the IBM mainframe, helping clients grow their digital business in a hybrid cloud environment,” said Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of IBM Systems.

Protecting Sensitive Data

Banco do Nordeste, the largest regional development bank in Latin America, has acquired two new z systems to support its mobile and automated banking systems, IBM noted.

“As our business continues to grow, we need a computing platform that can grow with us — while at the same time offering the security and reliability banks require,” said Claudio Freire, superintendent of information technology at Banco de Nordeste.

The IBM announcement is just one example of the fierce maneuvering among rivals to engage growing corporations on how cloud-based systems can expand their capacity for storing and transacting data without the need for massive infrastructure investments.

Microsoft in Novemberannounced plans to make its Azure Active Directory services widely available in the cloud-based environment, for example, while assuring customers that it would offer an industry-leading level of data security.

Power and Speed

The combination of speed and security in IBM’s x13s will provide a level of protection and efficiency for mid-sized companies that normally is not available in one package, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“Since IBM z system products perform encryption apart from the primary system components, that means that z13s customers will be able to encrypt and decrypt twice as many online or mobile transactions as they did before without impacting system performance,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“If you want to fully ensure the privacy and security of business transactions, encryption is the surest approach,” King said.

Certain types of businesses have been reluctant to trust their data in a cloud-based environment, but a system like the one that IBM is offering will make that transition much more secure, said Jeff Kaplan, managing director of ThinkStrategies.

“Given IBM’s primary focus on satisfying the needs of large-scale enterprises and data-driven mid-sized businesses that are generally hesitant to move to the cloud but are moving cautiously in this direction,” he told the E-Commerce Times, “it is essential for IBM to offer cloud solutions that promise the best possible security capabilities.”

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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