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IBM Aims for the Hybrid Cloud and Increases Security With the New z16

IBM today unveiled the z16 enterprise server, the latest release in its line of IBM Z mainframe systems. The new z16 delivers a slew of embedded, advanced capabilities aimed at hardening security, boosting performance, delivering greater value and cost efficiencies, and making analytics accessible and easy to use for non-data scientists to deliver immediate value.

Diverse, Open and Fine-Tuned for Performance

The z16 is also IBM’s most diverse and open version of the platform: it is specifically fine-tuned for hybrid cloud environments as well as data centers and the network edge. It supports multiple OS environments including the z/OS, AIX, various versions of Linux (Red Hat, SUSE) and open-source distributions like Ubuntu.

The IBM z16 is indisputably the most feature rich, secure and powerful Z enterprise system, to date. It incorporates 7nm technology with clock speeds of 5.2GHz and it supports a maximum of 200 cores and up to 40TB of memory. According to IBM, this results in 25% more processor capacity per drawer and an 11% per core performance improvement. Overall, IBM said the z16 will deliver 40% better performance than the prior z15 models.

Enhancements Beyond Speeds and Feeds

As impressive as those performance statistics are, the immediate and strategic impact of the z16 goes far beyond “speeds and feeds” enhancements.

Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM Z and LinuxONE says IBM designed the z16 to address enterprise customers’ need for top notch system performance, resiliency, security/data privacy and protection; dedicated workload accelerators and optimization across IBM’s entire product stack.

Barry Baker, vice president of product management for IBM Z adds that IBM made it a priority to integrate the z16 with Big Blue’s other offerings at every layer of the stack, which is a win for customers. Mauri and Baker note that the z16 delivers automation, predictive and security capabilities across myriad environments to help enterprise customers on their journey to hybrid cloud and AI. “We are focused on the entire ecosystem. IBM’s strategy has the Z platform integrated throughout [our products and services] offerings to build more value to our clients,” says Mauri.

IBM’s z16 addresses all of the hot-button issues confronting organizations in the digital age: AI; performance and low latency; resiliency/security; hybrid cloud; workload optimization; cost efficiencies; interoperability; and application modernization.

IBM z16 Quantum Cryptographic Security and AI On-Chip Inferencing

The z16 also includes several ground-breaking technology “firsts.” Two of the most noteworthy are the AI on-chip inferencing function and the quantum-safe cryptographic security capability.

The AI on-chip inferencing, which is available at no extra cost, is a game changer. It can deliver up to 300 billion deep learning inference operations per day with 1ms response time. IBM executives (including Mauri, Baker and Elpida Tzortzatos, CTO Fellow, IBM Z AI strategy for IBM Systems) note the z16’s accelerated on-chip AI “effectively eliminates” latency in inferencing. The result? Businesses can cut through the data deluge and predict and automate for “increased decision velocity,” IBM says. It enables even non-data scientist customers and users to analyze data and derive insights at heretofore unprecedented speeds. Additionally, leveraging AI in routine daily operational processes can proactively assist businesses to take preventive actions, like identifying and stopping outages before they occur.

To cite two examples, AI on-chip inferencing can assist customers in preventing fraud before it happens by scoring up to 100% of transactions in real-time without impacting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and it also helps companies keep up to date on fast-changing regulatory issues. The AI on-chip inferencing can also assist companies with compliance; automating the process to allow firms to cut audit preparation time from one month to one week to maintain compliance and avoid fines and penalties.

On the security front, the z16 takes the pervasive encryption introduced in the z14 model and z15 System Recovery Boost features and turbo charges them with the addition of quantum-safe cryptographic security. The z14 pervasive encryption model provided security at every layer of the stack. The z15 System Recovery Boost capability allowed businesses to drastically reduce the time it takes to shutdown, restart and process the backlog that occurred during a system outage. The z16 quantum-safe cryptographic security was developed in-house by IBM Research.

Cryptography is the process of encrypting and protecting data so that only the person who has the right secret key can decrypt it. Simply put, quantum cryptography is as close to unbreakable or impenetrable encryption as a system can get. It uses quantum mechanics to secure and transmit data in a way that cannot be hacked (at least not yet).

The IBM Z has always proactively delivered unparalleled security. It is indisputably the most secure platform in the industry with the inclusion of pervasive encryption, System Boost Recovery on-chip security, specialized crypto cards and accompanying software. These are all extremely crucial since security hacks like ransomware, email phishing schemes and targeted data breaches have surged by 84% in the last two years since the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, according to survey data from ITIC, a research and consulting firm based in Boston.

IBM doesn’t just manufacture and sell the Z servers: it is also its own best customer. For several years IBM has used the mainframe for its own Blockchain High Security Business Network, which Big Blue delivers as a service. And with the addition of quantum-safe cryptography capabilities in the z16, IBM just got more robust.

Meeting Evolving Business Challenges With z16

Resiliency, performance and security across the entire ecosystem from on-premises datacenters to hybrid clouds and the network edge, are among the most crucial metrics in enterprise businesses. Improvements or declines in any of these areas will have immediate positive and/or negative consequences on daily business operations and the corporation’s bottom line. The ability to adhere to compliance regulations and meet SLAs is likewise contingent on server resiliency and near impregnable quantum cryptographic security to confound today’s highly sophisticated hackers. Corporations also need low latency in operations no matter how heavy the workloads as well as the ability to easily and quickly sift and analyze data to make actionable decisions.
The z16 fulfills all of those challenges.

ITIC’s most recent Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability and Server Security Surveys indicated that the IBM Z enterprise servers have exhibited the highest levels of fault tolerant resiliency/uptime/availability among 15 server hardware platforms for the last 14 years. The IBM z13, z14 and z15 have also been the most secure servers among 15 competing platforms. IBM z14 and z15 systems are the only servers to have experienced less than one successful security penetration per server over the last 12 to 24 months. Given the latest quantum cryptographic security advances, ITIC fully anticipates that the z16 will continue to deliver the most robust server security.

The IBM z16 is not only the last mainframe standing; it is the preeminent mainstream server platform for digital enterprises requiring nothing less than seven nines—99.99999%—best-in-class fault tolerant reliability; quantum cryptographic security and AI on-chip acceleration across multi platforms from datacenters to hybrid clouds and the network edge while delivering the lowest TCO and immediate ROI.

IBM Z Fast Facts:

  • IBM Z platform experienced 3x growth in the last decade
  • The IBM Z platform supports 67 of the Fortune 100 firms
  • The IBM Z mainframe is used in 45 out of 50 of the world’s top banks
  • IBM Z is in eight of the top 10 insurance companies
  • IBM Z is deployed by four out of the five top airlines
  • IBM Z is used by seven out of 10 top global retailers
  • IBM Z is in use by eight of the top 10 telecommunications providers
  • 24 of the top 25 countries by GDP have an IBM Z mainframe.
  • Currently over 1,000 ISVs and open-source solutions are now on the platforms supporting every part of their product and services stacks