Tuesday, September 17, 2019

IBM Unleashes the z15 Mainframe

In New York City, on September 12, 2019, IBM announced the latest and greatest iteration of its Z systems mainframe computing platform, the IBM z15. And I was lucky enough to be there for the unveiling.

The official IBM announcement letter can be found here if you want to dive into the details. But before you go there, consier first reading what I have to say about it below.

Before going any further, here I am with the new z15 in New York… don’t we make a handsome couple? 

The event was held at 3 World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Ross Mauri, General Manager of IBM Z, kicked off the event extolling the unprecedented security delivered by the z15 with encryption everywhere and the data privacy passports. He claims that the IBM z15 is the most secure platform you can get, and the new capabilities back that up. Mauri also acknowledged that "there's always the next big thing in technology" but stated that "IBM is innovating and leading by anticipating customer needs to ensure the on-going relevance of the mainframe."

And there is a lot to like about the new IBM z15 platform, both for long-time users and those embracing the platform for new development. IBM is embracing the multicloud approach and reminding everybody that the mainframe is a vital component of multicloud for many organizations.

But modern infrastructure with the latest application development techniques is not as simple as throw out the old and bring in the new. I mean, let’s face it, if you have a mainframe with possibly hundreds or thousands of man years of work invested in it, are you really going to take the time to re-code all of that mission-critical work just to have it on a “new” platform? Rewriting applications that work today cannot be the priority for serious businesses! Especially when the modern mainframe is as new as it gets, runs all of that legacy code that runs your business, and also supports new cloud apps and development, too.

The IBM Z works perfectly as a part of your multicloud development strategy. The cloud promises an open, flexible world. But your most critical workloads also need to run securely and without interruption. To accomplish both objectives you must support cloud with an underlying IT infrastructure. And for Fortune 500 companies and other large organizations, the multicloud includes the mainframe as part of the enabling infrastructure.

What’s New

The new IBM z15 is housed in a convenient 19 inch rack, and that means it can be integrated into a standard rack. So you get all the benefit and strengths of the mainframe while fitting into the size expected by a standard data center.

Did you know that there are more transistors in the new IBM z15 chip than there are people in the world! Inside the IBM z15 processor chip, there are 15.6 miles of wires, 9.2 billion transistors and 26.2 billion wiring connections — all of which allow a single z15 server to process 1 trillion web transactions per day.

The mainframe is the ideal platform for many organizations. It provides the resiliency, security, and agility needed to power, secure, and integrate your hybrid cloud. And it capably, securely, and efficiently runs your transactions and the batch workload required to keep your business humming. IBM used to talk about five 9s of availability (that is 99.999%) but with the new IBM z15, IBM can deliver seven 9s (that is 99.99999%)! That is 3.16 seconds of downtime per year, or only 60.48 milliseconds of downtime per week. Now that is impressive!

The primary new features that are worth your time to investigate further, and that were highlighted by IBM at the kickoff event are:
  • Encryption everywhere which protects your data anywhere, even after it leaves your system, with new IBM Data Privacy Passports, which delivers privacy by policy.
  • Cloud native development that simplifies life for developers as they build and modernize applications using standard tools, including new support for Red Hat OpenShift. This enables you to both modernize the apps you have and to deploy new ones using the tools of your choice.
  • IBM Z Instant Recovery can reduce the impact of planned and unplanned downtime. Instant Recovery can speed the return to your pre-shutdown SLAs by up to 2x.

The flexibility of the z15 is noteworthy, too. The new IBM z15 provides the flexibility to implement 1 frame...

or up to 4 frames, as your capacity needs dictate.

And did you know it can run multiple operating systems, not just z/OS? The IBM Z platform can run z/OS, Linux on Z, z/VM, z/VSE, and z/TPF. This enables organizations to run legacy applications and modern, specialist ones using the operating system of their choice. Indeed, convenience and flexibility are hallmarks of the IBM Z platform.

The IBM z15 is a modern platform for all of your processing needs. And that is backed up not just by IBM, but also a brand new survery from BMC Software, in their 14th annual mainframe survey for 2019. The survey shows that 93% are confident in the combined long-term and new workload strength of the IBM Z platform, the strongest showing since 2013! Other highlights inlcude a majority thinking that mainframe growth will continue, along with increasing MIPS/MSU consumption... not to mention that the m
ainframe is handling increases in data volume, number of databases, and transaction volume. If you are working with mainframes in any way, be sure to check out the new BMC Mainframe Survey.

Indeed, with the new IBM z15 things are looking great for the mainframe and those that rely upon it to power their digital business.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

The Power of Data Masking for Data Protection

Data privacy regulations and the desire to protect sensitive data requires methods to mask production data for test purposes. Data masking tools create structurally similar data that is not the same as the actual data, but can be used by application systems the same way as the actual data. The capability to mask data is important to be in compliance with regulations like GDPR and PCI-DSS, which place restrictions on how personally identifiable information (PII) can be used.

UBS Hainer’s Masking Tool for BCV5 (their test data management solution) offers robust masking of Db2 for z/OS data. I wrote about this capability previously on the blog last year (see Data Masking: An Imperative for Compliance and Governance, November 12, 2018), and if you are looking for a concise, yet thorough overview of the product’s data masking capabilities I point you to that blog post.

So why am I talking about data masking again? Well, it is a thorny problem that many organizations are still struggling with. As much as 80% of sensitive data resides in environments used for development, testing, and reporting. That is a lot of data that is ripe for exposure.

But I also wanted to share a new video produced by UBS Hainer that explains how data masking can help you to stay compliant and protect your sensitive data. It is well worth your time to watch this 2 minute video if you need to better address the protection of sensitive data at your shop.

Click to watch the video

Data masking is not a simple task, and as the video helps to explain, there is much to consider. To effectively mask your data requires a well-thought-out process and method for implementation to achieve success. As such, a tool like BCV5 Masking Tool can simplify how you address your Db2 data protection requirements. It provides dozens of easy to use masking algorithms implemented using Db2 user-defined functions. It ensures that the same actual value is translated to the same masked value every time. And the value will be a plausible value that works the same as the data it is masking. The tool understands thing like referential integrity, unique constraints, related data, and so on.

A reliable method of automating the process of data masking that understands all of the complicated issues and solves them is clearly needed. And this where UBS Hainer’s BCV5 Masking Tool excels.