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IBM Boosts Mainframe Security

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted February 16, 2016

IBM is continuing its push to reinvent the mainframe for the modern era of computing needs with the announcement today of the z13s.

The IBM z13s is an evolution of the z13 that IBM first announced in January 2015, together with a $1 billionIBM z13s research and development commitment to advance the platform. With the z13s, IBM is now directly integrating security into the hardware in order to further enhance and accelerate multiple security functions, including embedded cryptography.

At the heart of the z13s are 20 configurable processor units, up to 4 TB of memory, and 40 LPARs (Logical partitions). Data communications benefit from the new FICON Dynamic Routing system that enables SAN dynamic routing policies.

Additionally, IBM has enhanced the Shared Memory Communications - Direct Access Method (SMC-D) technology to increase memory throughput and decrease overall latency.

From a hardware security perspective, IBM is improving its cryptographic co-processor with the new Crypto Express 5s, providing users with the ability to use increasingly complex cryptographic functions, without introducing application latency.

The Crypto Express 5s, like much of the z13s, is configurable and can be used in accelerator (SSL/TLS), secure CCA (Common Crypto Architecture) and Enterprise PKCS#11 modes. Additionally, the VISA format preserving encryption (VFPE) is supported, which is used to provide security for legacy payment card applications.

Laying Claim to the World's Most Secure Server

While hardware enablement is a big part of the security for the z13s, it's only part of the whole story. IBM is also extending several software and services offerings to protect the big mainframe. Among them is z Systems Cyber Security Analytics, which provides threat monitoring capabilities derived from behavior analytics.

IBM's QRadar SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) platform also integrates with the z13s. With QRadar, data from hundreds of different sources can be ingested and analyzed to help determine and identify potential threats.

From an access and authentication perspective, IBM Multi-factor Authentication for z/OS is now available for the z13s. According to IBM, the new solution marks the first time that multi-factor authentication is being directly coupled with the z/OS operating system.

"Fast and secure transaction processing is core to the IBM mainframe, helping clients grow their digital business in a hybrid cloud environment," Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president, IBM Systems, said in a statement. "The speed of secure transactions, coupled with new analytics technology helping to detect malicious activity and integrated IBM Security offerings, will help mid-sized clients grow their organization with peace of mind."

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

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