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What IBM z15 Protects and How it Does it

Joseph Gulla takes a closer look at the IBM z15, the latest member of the IBM Z platform.

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This week, I start a new series. My focus is on the IBM z15, which is the latest member of the IBM Z platform. I started my journey of discovery by reading the 117-page announcement letter, which wasn’t a bad place to start.

Useful Information

This is a challenge: How do I tackle writing about the z15 announcement is a useful way? The z15 is a significant announcement for IBM. This product was a large effort undertaken by a major company. It has been a multiyear effort involving many individuals. Like any complex endeavor, there are different ways to explain and understand what has been announced. Individuals who are learning about this announcement have different interests and experiences, and they use their background to make sense of what they see and read.
Looking at the big picture, some people are business people and others are technical or, perhaps not surprisingly, some are hybrid individuals that perhaps started as technical people but are now focus on the business aspect. This is the journey that I have traveled in my professional life.
For this series then, I intend to use these different backgrounds and interests as a tool to explain the significance and details associated with the announcement. People and ideas don’t always fit neatly into compartments, but I nevertheless hope this approach will be helpful in understanding this major new product from IBM.

What Kind of Mainframe Is it?

In the announcement, the z15 product team chose three main ideas to start the explanation of the product. Think of them as business-value statements used to explain primary aspects of the z15. These ideas are more focused on the industry aspect of the product but are nevertheless implemented through software and hardware, so they have a technical dimension as well—a deeply technical dimension. These business-value statement are centered on data privacy and security, business continuity and resilience, and hybrid cloud readiness. These are the core ideas supported by dozens if not hundreds of accompanying details as found in the announcement letter and a bevy of new technical documents. Let me parse the details so you can see the value in a summary form:

Security and Privacy

Data privacy and security is supported by three features:
  1. The new IBM Z Data Privacy Passports enforce security and privacy protections to data not only on Z, but also across platforms. So the scope includes a client’s enterprise and hybrid multicloud environments that may be in use.
  2. IBM Z Data Privacy for Diagnostics provides clients with the ability to protect sensitive data that may be included in diagnostic dumps. The announcement letter indicates that tagged sensitive data in dumps can be secured and redacted before sending to third-party vendors.
  3. A new Crypto Express7S adapter introduced on the IBM z15 has a design and format that have been driven by the adoption of blockchain and other highly secure applications.
So, the “what” is data privacy and security and the “how” is the three features starting with IBM Z Data Privacy Passports. It’s significant that the scope of the security additions are enterprise-wide and embracing of new technologies while supporting other, more routine needs like redacting sensitive data in dumps.

Business Continuity and Resilience

Business continuity and resilience is supported by two features:
  1. New IBM Z Instant Recovery accelerates everything needed to get ready for workload execution. The scope is comprehensive, including planned OS shutdown processing, OS initial program load, and middleware/workload restart and recovery, including the client workload execution that follows, which helps clients catch up for time lost due to the outage.   
  2. Enhancements in Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex (GDPS) combined with System Recovery Boost also speed up and streamline the execution of GDPS recovery scripts, which perform reconfiguration actions during various planned and unplanned operational situations.
In this case, the “what” is business continuity and resilience and the “how” is the two features starting with IBM System Recovery Boost. These new capabilities clearly increase the already significant continuity and resilience of previous generations of the mainframe.

The Hybrid Cloud

Three features support hybrid cloud readiness.
  1. IBM Z software offerings combine to help clients integrate and manage cloud environments, including IBM z/OS Container Extensions (zCX), which empowers access to a large ecosystem of open source and Linux on IBM Z applications.       
  2. IBM Integrated Accelerator for zEnterprise Data Compression is provided on each processor chip and uses industry-standard compression formats for file compression that can reduce the size of data. This can save storage space and increase data transfer rates.  
  3. Ready for the cloud data center, the IBM z15 is housed in a new standardized 19-inch frame that makes it ready for colocation and standardized facilities management. One to four frames may be deployed depending on the configuration of the z15. 
Here, the “what” is hybrid cloud readiness and the “how” is the three features starting with IBM Z software offerings. It’s useful to be reminded that hybrid cloud is a platform for applications and infrastructure, built on two or more components from public cloud, private cloud and on-premises IT. In all of its forms, hybrid cloud facilitates flexibility and portability for applications and data. 

Next Week

Next week, I’ll continue with my discussion of the z15. I will discuss what’s helpful about z15 for the different communities of interest and experience. Beyond just how technical or business people think, I’ll be focused on the interests of specific professionals. How will design and implement personnel see the product? What about security and cloud professionals? Also, what is in this product that’s of interest to procurement specialists, project managers, system integrators and software specialists? All of these people will benefit from a discussion of z15 with their specific interests in mind.
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