IBM Brings Always-On Encryption to the Z Mainframe

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When it comes to IBM's big iron mainframes, the IBM Z series, power and performance have always been core to the platform. Now at long last, IBM is bringing always-on encryption to the mainframe, providing a new level of security for the world's most intensive compute workloads.

While mainframes might seem like old news to some, for IBM it remains a growing and expanding part of the overall systems portfolio. IBM's mainframe revenues actually grew by 4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, even as overall IBM server revenues declined.

"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," Ross Mauri, General Manager, IBM Z said in a statement. "We created a data protection engine for the cloud era to have a significant and immediate impact on global data security."

Encryption often involves complexity in terms of dealing with cryptographic key management, as well as performance impact on running systems. With the new data protection engine for IBM Z, the promise is that all the power behind the mainframe can effectively be used to enable pervasive, always-on encryption.

The encryption isn't just for data at rest, which can be a challenge in itself, but also applies to data in motion as well as applications, providing an end-to-end security approach for every aspect of an application workload.

Going a step further, the IBM Z can also be leveraged to secure application APIs. According to IBM, the new IBM Z now enables organizations to encrypt APIs to any IBM Z application or data from a cloud service.

The encrypted IBM Z is also being used by IBM to help further Big Blue's Blockchain ambitions. IBM Z will now be coming to the IBM Cloud or provide an encryption engine and help run IBM Blockchain services.

"The powerful combination of IBM Z encryption and secure containers differentiates IBM Blockchain services on the cloud by supporting the trust models new blockchain networks require," Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Blockchain, said in a statement. "Enterprise clients also benefit from the ease of use making management transparent to the application and the user."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurityPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.