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The New IBM z14 Emphasizes Security, Insights and a Connected Ecosystem

To help clients enable trust and leadership, IBM introduced the new IBM z14 system centered on secure data and transaction, intelligence and insight, and an open and connected cloud.

Man in suit standing in front of computer hardware.

Image by Bill Bernstein

We live in a digital economy where everything is accessible to us any time. Digital device accessibility and ease of use have increased our expectations for what we can find and how we can go about our lives.

Mobile use worldwide is skyrocketing. In the U.S. alone, Pew Research estimates 77 percent of Americans now own a smartphone (pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile). Access to the information is at the power of consumers’ fingertips. As a result, they expect to be able to provide instant feedback. Organizations that fail to respond to consumers will be left behind. The power has shifted away from corporations to the hands of the individual.

Industries are scrambling to adapt. New business models and value chains are being created. As the world becomes more digitized with more data, new innovations and opportunities arise. Security is more important than ever. With more audits, regulations and compliance standards, clients must ensure the critical data on the mainframe is meeting—if not exceeding—those standards.

“Trust allows companies to take a leap in innovation, to bring new solutions to the market and to use technology in new ways.”
—Tarun Chopra, IBM Z hardware offering manager

As mobile use is expected to continue to rise, consumers will need to trust the platform and systems that underpin next-generation transactions. Trust in organizations and information is required. Lack of trust can be a barrier in the digital economy, something that can keep organizations from moving forward and individuals from participating.

“Trust allows companies to take a leap in innovation, to bring new solutions to the market and to use technology in new ways,” says Tarun Chopra, IBM Z* hardware offering manager. “Trust is what gives the customers the confidence to share their personal information and ultimately do business with your organization.”

To build trust, organizations must ensure greater security, transparency and value in every transaction and interaction that’s being processed in the digital age. Organizations must exploit the data for the insight by bringing machine learning to the information to better understand consumers, better provide experiences that will foster even more loyalty and consistently innovate to speed delivery of new services. The thought is your data is your insight and your competitive advantage.

To help clients enable trust and leadership, IBM has introduced the new IBM z14* system centered around three themes:

  1. Secure data and transaction enabling data as the new perimeter across the value chain
  2. Intelligence and insight integrating continuous intelligence through machine learning to personalize and elevate your customer experiences
  3. Delivering all of the innovation through an open and connected enterprise cloud to extend, connect and innovate

These three pillars, working together, will position organizations to excel in this trust economy.

Three Pillars

Pervasive encryption
The IBM z14 pervasive encryption is the new standard, providing clients the ultimate protection for corporate data and automating compliance to meet the requirements of ever-increasing regulations.

Where selective encryption is considered a minimum threshold of compliance, pervasive encryption protects all of an organization’s digital assets and is considered the new standard. Pervasive encryption allows organizations to encrypt 100 percent of the data associated with entire applications or databases without application changes and without impacting their service-level agreements.

Application changes can be time consuming, complex and costly, as organizations have to constantly maintain and change the application to keep up with the ever-changing compliance landscape. To move away from selective encryption, IBM has introduced pervasive encryption. Read more about the new pervasive encryption technology on the IBM z14 in “Paradigm Shift to Pervasive Encryption,”.

Machine Learning
With intelligence and insights capabilities, clients can act with the right data at the right time to convert enterprise data into opportunity. “Machine learning is enabling continuous intelligence,” says Chopra, lead offering manager of the IBM z14 system. “ ‘Continuous’ is a very important key word. Machine learning is built upon the notion of continuous learning where models need to ingest live data to highly personalize and elevate the customer experience.”

With IBM Machine Learning for z/OS*, clients can optimize decisions by quickly training, deploying and continuously monitoring a high volume of data to build predictive behavior models. IBM Machine Learning for z/OS brings those capabilities to rapidly analyze large volumes of data with consistent response time by exploiting in-memory computing. With z14, clients can apply machine learning to the most valuable data that originates and resides on the mainframe to create deeper actionable insights and predictive behavior.

“If clients want to protect the core asset that is their data, and if they encrypt all of that data with pervasive encryption, then it makes less sense to move data around for insights,” Chopra explains. “By keeping the data where it is, securely encrypted and bringing IBM Machine Learning on the platform, clients can analyze the data securely and efficiently, leveraging the zero-latency hybrid platform to provide flexible scalability and deployment options to match their organization’s requirements.”

Cloud-based blockchain
With cloud-based blockchain offerings, clients can leverage existing investments they have built over the years with an open and connected mainframe. By connecting the mainframe and existing systems of record with next-generation transaction environments built around blockchain, clients can bring greater transparency and agility while meeting the ever changing requirement of their customers and marketplace.

“The new IBM z14 system can do more than 12 billion encrypted transactions, equivalent to 400 Cyber Mondays, in a single box,” Chopra says. “It provides an open and connected environment that enables developers to seamlessly develop today’s business applications. They can utilize thousands of open-source packages, leverage APIs and implement DevOps across the cloud and local data centers.”

With APIs, clients can connect their core assets to cloud-born applications. “New service build time can be cut by almost 90 percent through APIs and applications like z/OS Connect,” Chopra notes.

The mainframe has been a leading platform for blockchain for some time now, but Chopra describes blockchain on the new system as a “marriage made in heaven.” That’s because the new system provides improved scalability, security and availability for the ledger technology. Enhancements to the processor support blockchain workloads: The elliptical curve cryptography algorithms—the core of blockchain crypto algorithms—are improved by 10 percent to provide more performance to blockchain applications. IBM z14 also provides memory of up to 32 TB per server combined with built-in on-chip accelerators for blockchain encryption and cryptography.

“The IBM z14 has robust cloud, blockchain and API capabilities,” Chopra says. “By leveraging them, clients are becoming more of a disruptor than being disrupted in the marketplace.”

Clients can achieve this by focusing on the new innovations available with the z14. They want to put their resources to work building new services, capabilities and business processes. One of the major elements of IBM’s design work is out of box performance so clients can focus on their organization, Chopra notes.

Eliminate Pain Points

IBM worked with clients to identify their top pain points. It studied the marketplace and built a system that provides the reliability, security and availability the mainframe is known for, while focusing on how to overcome the challenges clients are struggling with.

IBM worked with clients using the design thinking methodology—a framework to solve client pain points. During the process, IBM conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with clients to build a system for them.

“With 150-plus clients engaged on the journey, I say the IBM z14 system was co-created with clients,” Chopra says. “This includes about a dozen sponsor clients who, over the course of two years, worked hand-in-hand through regular engagements to examine the design points and capabilities being built. We had very in-depth conversations as to what our clients are facing and what they need to solve business challenges. We listened to their feedback. All of these engagements led us to build these three key pillars of the new system.”

Reducing skills barriers and attracting next-generation mainframers was a priority when developing the new platform. Some key areas of making it easier for anyone to get up and running easily include:

  • Enhancing the coupling facility to better scale with the growing demands of workloads and make it easier to manage
  • New user experience for the hardware management console and end-to-end z/OS management
  • Standardized skills on Linux* workloads so clients can leverage skills from the distributed environment to do the same thing in a mainframe environment
  • The ability to manage the mainframe on a mobile device, with LPAR setup via a mobile console

“With these innovations, the next generation of people coming into the workforce can quickly get up and running on the new IBM Z platform,” Chopra says.

Innovation for Clients

IBM’s commitment and investment to the new system is obvious: It has more than $1 billion invested in this with more than 1,000 developers who have contributed to the new platform. The company has more than 500 new patents on the technology, with over 1,500 pending.

“IBM has put its heart and soul into this,” Chopra says. “A lot of work has gone in to be able to bring this innovation in the marketplace.”

He describes the system as having a T-shaped design, where the breadth of the system the IBM Z platform is known for (e.g., the performance, scalability and availability improvements) and the depth, what he calls the soul of the system (e.g., pervasive encryption and building through using IBM Design Thinking to address critical client pain points). From that comes a platform that clients can trust with their most critical asset: their data and the application operating on that data.

“Trust is what allows businesses to take a leap in innovation, to bring new solutions to the marketplace, to use technology in new ways, to cut across industry silos and establish new relationships. Trust is what gives the customers the confidence to share the data and ultimately do business with you,” Chopra notes. “How can you build the trust in this digital age? Ensuring security and business value in every transaction and interaction that you are doing. The IBM z14 gives you the tools and capabilities to do just that.”

Enhancements Throughout

To leverage the trust economy, the IBM z14* system features many enhancements from the core out to help accelerate business. It features up to 170 configurable cores—up to 35 percent more total capacity compared to the IBM z13*—in a single footprint.

Pervasive encryption is enabled with capabilities including an increase of crypto instructions of the processor by almost 4 to 7x. CryptoExpress 6S cards have a performance boost by a factor of 1.5 to 2x. The new data set encryption enables clients to encrypt data in bulk to leverage integrated crypto hardware, and leverage the encryption capabilities without making any application changes and no impact to business service-level agreements.

The memory footprint increases by a factor of 3x over the previous generation; the z14 system will have up to 32 TB of memory for the system and up to 16 TB per LPAR. It features fault-tolerant redundant array of independent memory designed to support availability. New asynchronous I/O IBM zHyperLink technology is a direct connect short distance link designed to deliver low latency connectivity between z14 and FICON* storage systems, enabling a 10x latency reduction. It enables clients to cut application response time up to 50 percent without requiring application changes.

IBM has also made investments for the z14 to take advantage of modern development. Java* is being optimized with 50 new instructions for Java performance, scalability and security on the new system. Pause-less garbage collection is now available so the application doesn’t have to wait for the memory to be dumped during the normal Java pause-less garbage collection process, resulting in a 10x improvement in the consistency of response time for applications. This is critical in analytic-heavy workloads like machine learning that are built on Java applications. Read more about what can be accomplished with Java on z14 in “A Step Up,” page 51. Node.js also has new hardware instructions and runs 2.5x better when co-located, with a 20 percent better performance compared to the z13.

Traditional workloads like COBOL also see improvements on z14. New instructions in the single instruction, multiple data facility offers a boost for traditional workloads using decimal operations (i.e., COBOL V6.2 and PL/I V5.2) and above that provided by the faster processor. IBM Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS*, which enables performance optimization without recompiling a COBOL application, can see a performance boost of up to 35 percent. The C/C++ complier for compute intensive application can also see performance gains.

—V.D.

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