October 10, 2019 | Written by: Peter Gersak
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Several days ago, I met a CIO from a large organization in the finance services sector. We talked about their intention to deploy the blockchain Hyperledger network, whereby they would act as a service provider for other banks. The blockchain network will start out small, but with the potential to explode in terms of transactions and new onboarding of blockchain peers. We talked about the newest IBM z15 platform, which could solve the CIO’s problem in terms of blockchain application data availability (on the most reliable infrastructure) and highly intensive computing tasks such as cryptographic hashing.
However, let’s first look into the mainframe history. In 1964 IBM announced the System/360, into which IBM fueled a USD 5 billion investment. With this, IBM consolidated five different computer types into one compatible type and started the 20-year era of IBM mainframe domination. System/360 introduced 8-bit byte architecture, which is currently still utilized by every computer. System/360 was modular and could grow with a client’s business. System/360 and its successors were almost always room-sized, water-cooled behemoths that were installed as much by plumbers as computer technicians. Modern mainframe computers are very different from previous generations in that sense. However, you have a very high chance that System/360 code written in the sixties can still run on modern mainframes. Of course today’s mainframes have evolved through several reinventions since the late sixties. They can be air-cooled with a much smaller footprint, supplied with powerful, integrated security and cryptography, and support technology including Linux, Java, MongoDB, blockchain and cloud.
Today the mainframe is a linchpin for the success of the cloud environment. Cloud computing and mainframes are being increasingly linked to unlock value for clients.
As many as 85 percent of companies are already multi-cloud operational, and by 2021 most existing apps will have migrated to the cloud. In order to help our clients during their cloud transformation, IBM announced the new z15, which now features encryption everywhere, cloud-native development, and instant recovery.
IBM’s z15 enterprise platform is the state of the art in open, high-volume computing. It is cloud-ready for hybrid cloud environments and has cloud-native tools for developers—while providing a higher level of privacy protection and security enforcement through new capabilities such as Data Privacy Passports.
In the SEE countries where my sphere of work as CTO is based, we can see that a great deal of organizations in the banking and government sectors rely on the z platform for their business. This is due to four main factors: high security, unmatched reliability, huge transaction processing power, and the IT heritage these organizations have on their mainframes.
With the new Z System, z15 clients can now consider five key things:
1. Ideally suited for today’s cloud environments. z15 has the software tools businesses need to build and integrate hybrid, multiple clouds, simplifying life for developers as they build new applications and modernize existing ones. In addition to z/OS, z15 runs Linux, Kubernetes and other industry-standard software, including soon to be available Red Hat OpenShift, the containerization software that has become a vital layer in the cloud stack.
2. Innovation in data protection. z15 introduces Data Privacy Passports, the industry’s first commercial data privacy and security enforcement solution with off-platform access revocation—extending access controls beyond the system itself. That allows organizations to fine-tune who accesses data, and when and at what level to revoke access, as necessary, for end-to-end protection. And Data Privacy Passports protect all data, both at rest in the system and in-flight data, with no application changes.
3. Speed and capacity for high-demand workloads. The single processor capacity of z15 is 14% greater than its predecessor, the z14. And the largest IBM z15 is expected to provide approximately 25% more capacity than the largest z14. With on-chip accelerated compression, you can store, encrypt, and transfer more data faster than ever before.
4. Reliability and recovery for business readiness. IBM Z is designed for 99.999% availability (if it is set-up in that way) and resiliency, however z15 takes that a step further with instant recovery, a new capability that reduces the impact of both planned and unplanned downtime. All systems need occasional downtime for routine maintenance and patching, and z15 is able to get back into action 50 percent faster than earlier IBM Z models.
5. Sustainability and energy savings. As companies seek to reduce carbon emissions, they’re looking for ways to lower energy consumption. The z15 helps meet sustainability goals with measurable energy savings through server consolidation and reduced floor space. Organizations using the Intelligent Power Distribution option can help save the environment while also saving money.
IBM mainframes are highly sophisticated and modern machines, continually evolving, designed and built for reliability, availability, security, power, transactions processing and speed, and are as such ideal for traditional and cloud workloads, thus ideal for a hybrid cloud infrastructure.
 IBM Institute for Business Value: Assembling Your Cloud Orchestra, October 2018 https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/EXLAL23W