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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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Samsung unleashes the beast

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Most new smartphone releases of the past few years have been like cat-and-mouse games with consumers and each other. It has been as if morsels of cheese are thrown into the box to make it more interesting: a little extra camera here, a little more battery there, and incremental changes to size, speed (more) and weight (less). Each change moves the needle of innovation ever-so-slightly. Until we find ourselves, a few years later, with a handset that is revolutionary compared to six years ago, but an anti-climax relative to six months before.

And then came Samsung. Probably stung by the “incremental improvement” phrase that has become almost a cliché about new Galaxy devices, the Korean giant chose to unleash a beast last week.

The new Galaxy Note 9 is not only the biggest smartphone Samsung has ever released, but one of the biggest flagship handsets that can still be called a phone. With a 6.4” display, it suddenly competes with mini-tablets and gaming consoles, among other devices that had previously faced little contest from handsets.

It offers almost ever cutting edge introduced to the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones earlier this year, including the market-leading f1.5 aperture lens, and an f2.4. telephoto lens, each weighing in at 12 Megapixels. The front lens is equally impressive, with an f1.7 aperture – first introduced on the Note 8 as the widest yet on a selfie camera.

So far, so S9. However, the Note range has always been set apart by its S Pen stylus, and each edition has added new features. Born as a mere pen that writes on screens, it evolved through the likes of pressure sensitivity, allowing for artistic expression, and cut-and-paste text with translation-on-the-fly.

(Click here or below to read more about the Samsung Galaxy S Pen stylus) Samsung Galaxy S9 Features)

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SA ride permit system ‘broken’

Despite the amendments to the National Land Transport Act, ALON LITS, General Manager, Uber in Sub Saharan Africa, believes that many premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

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The spirit and intention of the amendments to the National Land Transport Act No 5  (NLTA), 2009 put forward by the Ministry of Transport are to be commended. It is especially pleasing that these amendments include ridesharing and e-hailing operators and drivers as legitimate participants in the country’s public transport system, which point to government’s willingness to embrace the changes and innovation taking place in the country’s transport industry.

However, there are aspects of the proposed amendments that are, at best, premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

Of particular concern are the significant financial penalties that will need to be paid by ridesharing and e-hailing companies whose independent operators are found to be transporting passengers without a legal permit issued by the relevant local authority. These fines can be as high as R100 000 per driver operating without a permit. Apart from being an excessive penalty it is grossly unfair given that a large number of local authorities don’t yet have functioning permit issuing systems and processes in place.

The truth is that the operating permit issuance system in South Africa is effectively broken. The application and issuance processes for operating licenses are fundamentally flawed and subject to extensive delays, sometimes over a year in length.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is very difficult for applicants whose permit applications haven’t yet been approved to get reasons for the extensive delays on the issuing of those permits.

Uber has had extensive first-hand experience with the frustratingly slow process of applying for these permits, with drivers often having to wait months and, in some cases more than a year, for their permits.

Sadly, there appears to be no sense of urgency amongst local authorities to prioritise fixing the flawed permit issuing systems and processes or address the large, and growing, backlogs of permit applications. As such, in order for the proposed stringent permit enforcement rules to be effective and fair to all role players, the long-standing issues around permit issuance first need to be addressed. At the very least, before the proposed legislation amendments are implemented, the National Transport Ministry needs to address the following issues:

  1. Efficient processes and systems must be put in place in all local authorities to allow drivers to easily apply for the operating permits they require
  2. Service level agreements need to be put in place with local authorities whereby they are required to assess applications and issue permits within the prescribed 60-day period.
  3. Local authorities need to be given deadlines by which their current permit application backlogs must be addressed to allow for faster processing of new applications once the amendments are promulgated.

If the Transport Ministry implements the proposed legislation amendments before ensuring that these permit issuance challenges are addressed, many drivers will be faced with the difficult choice of either having to operate illegally whilst awaiting their approved permits and risking significant fines and/or arrest, or stopping operations until they receive their permits, thereby losing what is, for many of them, their only source of income.

As such, if the Ministry of Transport is not able to address these particular challenges, it is only reasonable to ask it to reconsider this amendment and delay its implementation until the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure it does not impact negatively on the country’s transport industry. The legislators must have been aware of the challenges of passing such a significant law, as the Amendment Bill allows for the Minister to use his discretion to delay implementation of provisions for up to 5 years.

Fair trade and healthy competition are the cornerstones of any effective and growing economy. However, these clauses (Section 66 (7) and Section 66A) of the NLTA amendment, as well as the proposal that regulators be given authority to define the geographic locations or zones in which vehicles may operate, are contrary to the spirit of both. As a good corporate citizen, Uber is committed to supplementing and enhancing South Africa’s national transport system and contributing positively to the industry. If passed into law without the revisions suggested above, these new amendments will limit our business and many others from playing the supportive roles we all can, and should, in growing the SA transport and tourism industries as well as many other key economic sectors.

What’s more, if passed as they currently stand, the amendments will effectively limit South African consumers from having full access to the range of convenient transport options they deserve; which has the potential to harm the reputation and credibility of the entire transport industry.

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