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z15: Next-Gen Security and Resiliency for Hybrid Multicloud

On Sept. 12, IBM announced the new IBM z15. The mantra for this new generation of the enterprise platform is “the cloud you want with the privacy and security you need,” announcing to the world that IBM Z is ready to help integrate sensitive workloads into the hybrid multicloud.

IBM is rolling out major steps in three major areas: data privacy and security, resiliency, and compression. All of these features align well with primary needs for a hybrid multicloud world: flexibility, resiliency and security. With over 3,000 patents for innovation, there are many new features IBM Z aficionados will want to discover.

Building With Flexibility

The whole point of cloud is agility and flexibility to quickly add new services. It’s now possible to both modernize and extend existing z/OS applications as well as design new hybrid solutions using containers, Kubernetes and tools that cloud-native developers are familiar with. In addition, developers can integrate z/OS-based services and resources for modern cloud development, enabling the integration of z/OS services into hybrid applications.

That may not sound like a big deal if you’re not familiar with the levels of security, privacy, availability and resiliency that the IBM Z platform provides. But we’ll go ahead and clue you in: It means that you can now seamlessly integrate those z/OS services into the hybrid multicloud with consistent management and orchestration, and easily create new solutions, even cloud-based, which leverage those SLAs.

Form factor also impacts flexibility in the data center. Until launching the IBM z14 ZR1 in 2018, IBM Z servers all had an outsized form factor, requiring special accommodation. IBM z15 is the first top-of-line IBM Z server to slot into cloud data center racks with a 19-inch form factor. Mike Desens, vice president, Offering Management, IBM, also shared that the system is “expected to be 40% more energy efficient than 19-inch form factor x86 servers” due to the introduction of new power distribution options.

Protecting the Future: Security and Privacy

Data security and compliance are some of the biggest barriers to moving workloads to the cloud. IBM Z has long been known for having the highest commercially available server security features. Introduced in 2017, pervasive encryption on the system was a leap forward. With the new IBM z15, “encryption everywhere” extends this throughout the hybrid multicloud with IBM Data Privacy Passports, so that encryption is extended to data wherever it resides—it travels with the data and access can be managed or revoked no matter where the data is. So now, data which is in the cloud is protected at the same levels as data on-premise—and this new capability extends to data from all platforms, not just IBM Z.

In addition, with the new IBM Z Data Privacy for Diagnostics feature, pervasive encryption is now applied to diagnostic data captured to troubleshoot issues and often shared with support partners, ensuring that you get optimum support without compromising data privacy.

Delivering With Confidence: Resiliency and Performance

In an “always on” world where clients expect 24-7 service, resiliency is a must. The IBM Z platform was already one of the most resilient systems with features like Parallel Sysplex providing 99.99999% availability, dynamic workload balancing and no single point of failure, and GDPS driving long-distance failure recovery with a single point of control and enabling the creation of secure point-in-time copies of critical source data for restoring. Miao Zhang Cohen, product manager for IBM z15, notes that the new system “provides 2.5x faster GDPS reconfiguration for site switch or CPC failover.”

Planned outages for maintenance and updates are a reality for any data center, but every second of downtime has a cost. The new IBM Z Instant Recovery feature reduces the time needed for shutdown and reboot. In addition, the feature also concentrates more processing power on the recovery cycle after reboot to catch up 2x faster than before on transactions in holding while the partition is offline. End-to-end, that represents a 50% improvement in the time to get back to business. Combined with existing resiliency features, this creates what IBM calls “instant recovery,” a precious capability for anyone with high volumes of transactions and higher than average cost of downtime. Zhang-Cohen says that “this new Instant Recovery is a first of a kind capability that provides the boost to rapidly complete the transaction backlog without incurring additional IBM software cost to our clients.”

Increasing amounts of data are adding to the cost of storage and also slowing down system performance. With a hybrid multicloud infrastructure, data needs to circulate across systems with speed and protection. IBM z15 introduces on-chip compression, increasing throughput by 17x from previous systems and an astonishing 42x over software compression on x86 systems.

z15: Elevating Cloud Strategy

Cloud is not a trend which will soon fade away. Seamlessly integrating on-premise infrastructure into the hybrid multicloud while maintaining resiliency, availability, scalability, and data privacy and protection is the holy grail. With the extension of the highest industry SLA standards in security, resilience and scale to the hybrid cloud, the reduction of the service window, the introduction of on-chip compression reducing costs for data and improving performance, and the new cloud native development capabilities recently introduced, IBM z15 has just taken some huge steps forward to make that possible.

Look for more in-depth coverage on the new z15 in the November/December 2019 cover story of IBM Systems magazine, IBM Z.