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IBM unveils next gen mainframe

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IBM has unveiled the IBM Z, a next generation transaction system capable of running more than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day and making it possible to encrypt data associated with any application, cloud service or database all the time.

IBM Z’s new data encryption capabilities are designed to address the global epidemic of data breaches, a major factor in the $8 trillion cybercrime impact on the global economy by 2022 Of the more than nine billion data records lost or stolen since 2013, only four percent were encrypted, making the majority of such data vulnerable to organized cybercrime rings, state actors and employees misusing access to sensitive information.

In the most significant re-positioning of mainframe technology in more than a decade, when the platform embraced Linux and open source software, IBM Z now dramatically expands the protective cryptographic umbrella of the world’s most advanced encryption technology and key protection. The system’s advanced cryptographic capability now extends across any data, networks, external devices or entire applications – such as the IBM Cloud Blockchain service – with no application changes and no impact on business service level agreements.

“The vast majority of stolen or leaked data today is in the open and easy to use because encryption has been very difficult and expensive to do at scale,” said Ross Mauri, General Manager, IBM Z. “We have created a data protection engine for the cloud era to have a significant and immediate impact on global data security.”

Technology Breakthrough: Industry-First Pervasive Encryption for the Cloud Era

A recent study found that extensive use of encryption is a top factor in reducing the business impact and cost of a data breach. To put that in context, the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index reported that more than four billion records were leaked in 2016 (a 556 percent increase from 2015).

However, encryption is often largely absent in corporate and cloud data centers because current solutions for data encryption in x86 environments can dramatically degrade performance (and thus user experience), and can be too complex and expensive to manage. As a result, only about two percent of corporate data is encrypted today, while more than 80 percent of mobile device data is encrypted.

IBM Z pervasive encryption reflects a call to action on data protection articulated by Chief Information Security Officers and data security experts worldwide, and more than 150 IBM clients around the world who participated and provided feedback in IBM Z’s system design over three years.

As a result of this collaboration, IBM Z brings significant advances in cryptography technology, building on a proven encryption platform that safeguards the world’s banking, healthcare, government and retail systems. IBM Z pervasive encryption delivers breakthroughs including:

· Pervasive encryption of data – all the time. IBM Z makes it possible, for the first time, for organizations to pervasively encrypt data associated with an entire application, cloud service or database in flight or at rest with one click. The standard practice today is to encrypt small chunks of data at a time, and invest significant labor to select and manage individual fields. This bulk encryption at cloud scale is made possible by a massive 7x increase in cryptographic performance over the previous generation z13 – driven by a 4x increase in silicon dedicated to cryptographic algorithms. This is 18x faster compared to x86 systems (that today only focus on limited slices of data) and at just five percent of the cost compared to x86-based solutions.

· Tamper-responding encryption keys. A top concern for organizations is protection of encryption keys. In large organizations, hackers often target encryption keys, which are routinely exposed in memory as they are used. Only IBM Z can protect millions of keys (as well as the process of accessing, generating and recycling them) in “tamper responding” hardware that causes keys to be invalidated at any sign of intrusion and can then be reconstituted in safety. The IBM Z key management system is designed to meet Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Level 4 standards, where the norm for high security in the industry is Level 2. This IBM Z capability can be extended beyond the mainframe to other devices, such as storage systems and servers in the cloud. In addition, IBM Secure Service Container protects against insider threats from contractors and privileged users, provides automatic encryption of data and code in-flight and at-rest, and tamper-resistance during installation and runtime.

· Encrypted APIs. IBM z/OS Connect technologies can make it easy for cloud developers to discover and call any IBM Z application or data from a cloud service, or for IBM Z developers to call any cloud service. IBM Z now allows organizations to encrypt these APIs – the digital glue that links services, applications and systems – nearly 3x faster compared to alternatives based on x86 systems.

“The pervasive encryption that is built into, and is designed 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.

IBM Z, deeply integrated with IBM Security software, automates and dramatically streamline security and compliance processes. For example, auditors are expected to manually inspect and validate the security of databases, applications and systems. Organizations can now immediately demonstrate that data within of scope of compliance is protected and the keys are secure. This can significantly reduce the mounting complexity and cost of compliance for auditors. The system also provides an audit trail showing if and when permissioned insiders accessed data.

New: Predictable and Transparent Container Pricing

IBM also announced three groundbreaking new Container Pricing models for IBM Z, providing clients greatly simplified software pricing that combines flexible deployment with competitive economics vs. public clouds and on-premises x86 environments:

· New microservices and applications that enable clients to maximize the value from security-rich on-premises enterprise systems in real time. Clients can now co-locate applications to optimize qualities of services that are priced competitively with public cloud and on-premises platforms.

Application development and test with the freedom to triple capacity of all development environments on z/OS to support latest DevOps tooling and processes. Clients can triple capacity with no increase in monthly license charge.

Payment systems pricing based on the business metric of payments volume a bank processes, not the available capacity. This gives clients much greater flexibility to innovate affordably in a competitive environment, particularly in the fast-growing Instant Payment segment.

These precedent-setting Container Pricing options are designed to give clients the predictability and transparency they require for their business. The pricing models are scalable both within and across logical partitions (LPARs) and deliver greatly enhanced metering, capping and billing capabilities. Container Pricing for IBM Z is planned to be available by year-end 2017 and enabled in z/OS V2.2 and z/OS V2.3.

The Most Powerful Transaction System for the Cloud Era

IBM Z builds on the capabilities of the world’s most powerful transaction engine at the center of global commerce today supporting:

· 87 percent of all credit card transactions and nearly $8 trillion payments a year.

· 29 billion ATM transactions each year, worth nearly $5 billion per day.

· Four billion passenger flights each year.

· More than 30 billion transactions per day – more than the number of Google searches every day.

· 68 percent of the world’s production workloads at only six percent of the total IT cost.

Banks and others in the financial services industry process thousands of transactions per second to keep the world’s financial systems running. The mainframe is more critical than ever for reliably handling high volumes of transaction data.

Ninety-two of the world’s top 100 banks rely on the IBM mainframe because of its ability to efficiently process huge volumes of transactions. To help financial services organizations more effectively compete in the cloud era, enormous amounts of sensitive data produced by transactions can now be better protected against fraud and cybercrime, analyzed, and monetized using IBM Z – without causing disruption of day-to-day operations. For banks, this means encryption at the click of a button — even while applications are running — and the ability to migrate data from unencrypted to encrypted with no impact to service level agreements.

The IBM Z, the next generation of IBM’s industry-leading CMOS mainframe technology, features the industry’s fastest microprocessor, running at 5.2GHz, and a new scalable system structure that delivers up to a 35 percent capacity increase for traditional workloads and up to a 35 percent capacity increase for Linux workloads compared to the previous generation IBM z13. The system can support:

· More than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day on a single system.

· The world’s largest MongoDB instance with 2.5x faster NodeJS performance than x86-based platforms.

· Two million Docker Containers.

· 1,000 concurrent NoSQL databases.

Other new capabilities announced today include:

· Three times the memory of the z13 for faster response times, greater throughput and accelerated analytics performance. With 32TB of memory, IBM Z offers one of the largest memory footprints in the industry.

· Three times faster I/O and accelerated transaction processing compared to the z13 to drive growth in data, transaction throughput and lower response time.

· The ability to run Java workloads 50 percent faster than x86 alternatives.

· Industry-leading Storage Area Network response time with zHyperLink, delivering 10x latency reduction compared to the z13 and cutting application response time in half – enabling businesses to do much more work such as real-time analytics or interact with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and cloud applications within the same transaction, without changing a single line of application code..

As part of today’s announcement, IBM also previewed new z/OS software that provides foundational capabilities for private cloud service delivery, enabling a transformation from an IT cost center to a value-generating service provider. When available, these capabilities will include the support of workflow extensions for IBM Cloud Provisioning and Management for z/OS and real-time SMF analytics infrastructure support.

IBM Global Financing can help credit-qualified clients acquire the new IBM Z, lower their total cost of ownership, and accelerate return on investment. IBM Global Financing offerings for IBM mainframe solutions are available from IBM and IBM Business Partners, and provide flexible terms and conditions that can be customized to align cost to project benefits or other client needs.

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Gadget goes to Hollywood

Gadget visited the Netflix studios last week. In the first of a series, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK talks to CEO Reed Hastings.

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is no stranger to Africa. He has travelled throughout South Africa, taught maths in Swaziland for two years with the Peace Corps, and visits close family in Maputo. As a result, he is keenly aware of the South African entertainment and connectivity landscape.

In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last week, he revealed that Netflix had no intentions of challenging MultiChoice’s dominance of live sports broadcasting on the continent.

“Other firms will do sport and news; we are trying to focus on movies and TV shows,” he said. “There are a lot of areas that are video that we are not doing: sports, news, video gaming, user-generated content. We don’t have live sport.

Reed Hastings at the Netflix studios in Hollywood last week. Pic: ADAM ROSE

“We’re not replacing MultiChoice at all. Their subscriber growth is steady in South Africa. They serve a need that’s independent of the Internet, via low-price satellite. There is no intention of capturing that audience. If they’re growing, it’s because they serve a need.”

While Reed ruled out any collaboration with MultiChoice on its satellite delivery platform, despite its collaboration with another pay-TV service, Sky TV in the United Kingdom, he did not close the door. He stressed that Netflix saw itself as an Internet-based service, and would pursue the opportunities offered by evolving broadband in Africa.

“If you look in other markets like the USA, how Comcast carries us on set-top boxes with their other services, it could happen with MultiChoice, the same as with all the pay-TV providers.

“We’re really focused on being a service over the Internet and not over satellite. Our service doesn’t work on satellite. Where we work with Sky is on Internet-connected devices. We’re happy to work on Internet-connected devices. We tend to work on smart TVs, but need broadband Internet for that.

“Broadband is getting faster in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa – we can see the positive trendlines – so it’s more likely we will work with broadband Internet companies.”

Hastings is a firm believer in the idea that one content provider’s success does not depend on pushing another down.

“HBO has grown at the same time as we have, so can see our success doesn’t determine their success. What matters is amazing content with which the world falls in love.”

Click here to read about Netflix’s international expansion, and how the streaming service selects content for its platform.

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Take these 5 steps to digital

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By MARK WALKER, Associate Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa at IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

Digital transformation isn’t a buzz word because it sounds nice and looks good on the business CV. It is fundamental to long-term business success. IDC anticipates that 75% of enterprises will be on the path to digital transformation by 2027. 

However, digital transformation is not a process that ticks a box and moves to the next item on the agenda – it is defined by the organisation’s shift towards a digitally empowered infrastructure and employee. It is an evolution across system, infrastructure, process, individual and leadership and should follow clear pathways to ensure sustainable success.

The nature of the enterprise has changed completely with the influence of digital, cloud and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and success is reliant on strategic change.

There is a lot more ownership and transparency throughout the organisation and there is a responsibility that comes with that – employees want access to information, there has to be speed in knowledge, transactions and engagement,” he adds. “To ensure that the organisation evolves alongside digital and demand, it has to follow five very clear pathways to long-term, achievable success.

The first of these is to evaluate where the enterprise sits right now in terms of its digital journey. This will differ by organisation size and industry, as well as its reliance on technology. A smaller organisation that only needs a basic accounting function or the internet for email will have far different considerations to a small organisation that requires high-end technology to manage hedge funds or drive cloud solutions. The same comparisons apply to the enterprise-level organisation. The mining sector will have a completely different sub-set of technology requirements and infrastructure limitations to the retail or finance sectors.

Ultimately, every organisation, regardless of size or industry, is reliant on technology to grow or deliver customer service, but their digital transformation requirements are different. To ensure that investment into artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, knowledge engines, automation and connectivity are accurately placed within the business and know exactly where the business is going.

The second step is to examine what the business wants to achieve. Again, the goals of the organisation over the long and short term will be entirely sector dependent, but it is essential that it examine what the competitive environment looks like and what influences customer expectations. This understanding will allow for the business to hone its digital requirements accordingly.

The third step is to match expectations to reality. You need to see how you can move your digital transformation strategy forward and what areas require prioritisation, what funding models will support your digital aspirations, and how this tie into what the market wants. Ultimately, every step of the process has to be prioritised to ensure it maps back to where you are and the strategic steps that will take you to where you want to go.

The fourth step is to look at the operational side of the process. This is as critical as any other aspect of the transformation strategy as it maps budget to skills to infrastructure in such a way as to ensure that any project delivers return on investment. Budget and funding are always top of mind when it comes to digital transformation – these are understandably key issues for the business. How will it benefit from the investment? How will it influence the customer experience? What impact will this have on the ongoing bottom line? These questions tie neatly into the fifth step in the process – the feedback loop.

This is often the forgotten step, but it is the most important. The feedback loop is critical to ensuring that the digital transformation process is achieving the right results, that the right metrics are in place, and that the needle is moving in the right direction. It is within this feedback loop that the organisation can consistently refine the process to ensure that it moves to each successive step with the right metrics in place.

There is also one final element that every organisation should have in place throughout its digital evolution. An element that many overlook – engagement. There must be a real desire to change, from the top of the organisation right down to the bottom, and an understanding of what it means to undertake this change and why it is essential. This is why this will be a key discussion at the 2019 IDC South Africa CIO Summit taking place in April this year. With this in place, the five steps to digital transformation will make sense and deliver the right results.

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