New IBM Mainframe
July 17, 2017 Cybersecurity, Data

IBM z14 Mainframe: Tighter Security, Greater Capacity, New Optimizations

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Today, IBM announced what we’ve all been waiting for. The z14 mainframe has been unveiled, along with several performance optimizations. We can expect to see the latest evolution of Big Iron in datacenters later this year (see the z14 mainframe announcement letter for further details).

As Compuware explained in a press release detailing its day-one support of the z14 mainframe, to the advantage of joint Compuware and IBM Z customers, “The z14’s new features, particularly greater security enabled through pervasive encryption, will help Compuware customers optimize ‘digital trust’—heightening user confidence that their sensitive data is being kept safe and secure.”

Mainframe users have long championed the platform’s unmatched securable environment. It is virtually impenetrable, unlike distributed systems. The only easy way to “hack” a mainframe is from the inside, but that’s becoming a greater concern.

Pairing the z14 mainframe’s tighter security, which Compuware says will provide “extensive encryption of data, both in-flight and at-rest,” with tools like Compuware Application Audit, which provides end-to-end visibility into privileged user behavior, companies will be able to improve safeguards against insider threats to mainframe applications and data.

Alongside improved security, “Additional hardware capacity and performance optimizations will also help customers more fully leverage their mainframes as a competitive asset,” Compuware says.

The announced IBM Enterprise COBOL V6.2 and PL/I V5.2 compilers continue to provide exploitation of IBM z/Architecture by direct support for the z14 hardware and z/OS V2.3 software.

The new compilers will include direct support of the new z14 hardware by use of the ARCH(12) compile option and will include exploitation of the z14 Vector Packed Decimal Facility without customer source code changes. COBOL V6.2 also includes many of the COBOL V6.1 CD – Continuous Delivery – items that were PTFs in the past six months that assisted migration from previous COBOL compilers. PL/I V5.2 also adds performance, usability and additional client requested enhancements.

IBM’s z/OS V2.3 provides the software framework to exploit the z14 and provide enablement services to COBOL and PL/I so customers can continue to modernize applications to meet their digital transformation requirements. Especially notable are the new z/OS V2.3 policy based encryption options that will enable use of pervasive encryption, without application changes, to protect customer data and meet new compliance requirements.

If the world was surprised at how modern the z13 mainframe is two years after its release in 2015, what will it think of the z14 mainframe?

With companies like Compuware proving Agile and DevOps are feasible on the mainframe, and with IBM instilling those practices directly in the platform, and synergizing them with tighter security, one need not speculate as to where the mainframe is headed as the core system of record supporting the private and public sectors’ most mission-critical apps and data in the digital age—it’s certainly not to a burial plot.

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Mike Siemasz

Technology Writer at Compuware
Mike Siemasz formerly served Content Strategist and Technology Writer, reporting on culture, processes and tools in relation to DevOps and the mainframe.
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