New Z series mainframes will take some beating.

IBM claim the 14th generation of its Z series mainframes can encrypt 12 billion transactions a day, and with one click can encrypt the entire contents of a mainframe, making its contents virtually useless to hackers.

As data breaches across companies and governments continue to grow, and hackers become ever more sophisticated, technology companies and IT Departments have been left struggling to cope with the increased Malevolent activity. But that could all be about to change if IBM’s new Z series platform does what IBM boffins claim it can.

IBM claim the 14th generation of its Z series mainframes can encrypt 12 billion transactions a day, and with one click can encrypt the entire contents of a mainframe, making its contents virtually useless to hackers.

IBM’s new Z14 series mainframe. Like a PC but a lot bigger, and much, much, more expensive.

The need for encryption

The need for an increased level of encryption at the source level has probably never been so great. Ross Mauri, the general manager of IBM’s mainframe business, estimates that only around 4% of daily server transactions are encrypted. IBM has made sure to point out the fact that encryption is often largely absent in corporate and cloud data centres because current solutions for x86-based servers can degrade and throttle performance. Mass server encryption has also traditionally been too complex and expensive to manage effectively or within budgets. Consequently, IBM has noted that only about 2 percent of corporate data is encrypted today, while more than 80 percent of mobile device data is encrypted. 

That’s where the new Z series, should come into its own. As well as trying to make data breaches and cyber-attacks a pointless exercise from hackers’ point of view, it will also attempt to solve companies’ financial regulatory obligation headaches by automating much of the processes. IBM’s transaction engine currently supports 87% of all credit card transactions, the company said, totaling nearly $8 trillion worth of payments each year.

Upgraded Hardware

There certainly is. The Z series has four times more silicon for processing cryptographic algorithms over the previous Z13 generation mainframe. IBM also claims that the new mainframe can encrypt data at a rate 18 times faster than other platforms, in some cases. As a mark of IBM’s confidence in the new venture, the new mainframe will only initially be used as an encryption engine for IBM’s cloud computing technology.

IBM have also said that the new mainframe system is their most significant system overhaul in more than 15 years and IBM worked with 150 clients to develop the new Z mainframe. The result is an increase in encryption performance over the z13 mainframe that is seven times faster than their Z13 series, and 18 times faster than x86 servers, which currently make up the bulk of the server market today. 

Unhackable? I’ve heard that one before

Yes, who hasn’t, and while IBM seem to be very pleased with the new Z 14 mainframe, and the fact that secured data on IBM Z mainframes is locked down with 256-bit AES encryption. While that technology is currently unbreakable when set up properly, IBM are no fools. Knowing that no security system is perfect, IBM has done its best to make the decryption keys for its new systems virtually tamper proof. But if the server detects a data breach, it will invalidate all the keys until operators can investigate. This makes the new Z series an attractive proposition for any company that can afford one. It also makes life an awful lot harder for the likes of hackers. But as history has shown, an unhackable system today, could literally be obsolete in just a few years. For now, however, it’s IBM’s technology that seems to have the upper hand.

Can I buy one?

It depends how much you are willing to spend. IBM customers go to them first, and the world’s oldest computer company have said that anyone interested in buying the Z14 can make enquiries. But if you are interested in purchasing fourteenth edition of the Z Series Mainframe, then you will be looking at price ranges sitting somewhere in the tens of thousands of dollars. It’s your call.