IBM z14 Mainframe
September 22, 2017 Workforce

What You Get with the New IBM z14 Mainframe—and Where to Learn More

There are new conditions for enterprises that wish to remain relevant in the digital age—be smarter, be faster, be more integrated. If not, be eliminated. Not only that, but the ridiculous rise in enterprise security bungles across the globe—with Equifax being just the latest—means enterprises must also focus more on how to gain and retain customer trust.

Naturally, the systems enterprises use greatly determine how trustworthy, agile and digitally intelligent they are. IBM Vice President – Server Solutions Lori Bucciarelli said as much during her opening address at a recent “IBM Z Crafted Conversations” event in Downtown Detroit promoting the new IBM z14 mainframe. She asked attendees to keep in mind three points that would serve as guideposts throughout the evening:

  1. Systems are either safe or unsafe
  2. Systems are either open or closed
  3. Systems either absorb, utilize and analyze customer data or they don’t

In other words, your enterprise systems either provide security, connectivity and intelligence or they don’t—you need to be using systems that do if you want to be a trusted organization. That’s why IBM z Systems designed the z14 to enable pervasive encryption, hybrid computing and machine learning.

Experts at Detroit’s “IBM Z Crafted Conversations” event spoke extensively on the details behind these enhancements, but here I’ll give just a few brief summaries.

Pervasive Encryption
Hands down, the mainframe is the most securable platform available to large enterprises, and the z14’s pervasive encryption capabilities—integrated crypto hardware, dataset and file encryption, clustering encryption, network encryption and key management—only enhance that security. Enterprises would be remiss to assume any other system is on par with the mainframe for protecting customers’ PII.

Hybrid Computing
Most companies don’t seem to be entirely aware of the pitfalls that await them once they begin, for example, a COBOL-to-Java migration. Continuing with this example, nor are enterprises aware Java runs exceptionally well on z/OS—you can actually run Java “fast” without driving MLC charges, according to IBM experts who spoke at the event.

To boot, there are now methods for visualizing COBOL code, rather than rewriting it. These advancements further the notion of the mainframe serving as just another platform in your datacenter, rather than a black box in the corner, because they enable mainframe-inexperienced developers to complete complex, esoteric tasks in familiar, intuitive environments.

Machine Learning
The z14’s machine learning makes the mainframe seem beyond modern. Among other data-science capabilities, the z14 improves enterprises’ chances of detecting fraud or proactively identifying customers who may be dissatisfied with the services or experiences they’re provide. And while the IBM experts who spoke were a little vague about the benefits here, apparently there’s an IBM Watson integration you can take advantage of, too.

Event Expectations

There really has never been a good reason to move mission-critical applications and data off the mainframe, and there absolutely isn’t with the z14. How IBM is choosing to get that message across in their “IBM Z Crafted Conversations” roadshow is interesting, to say the least.

Two IBM experts role-play a mainframe-skeptic CTO and a pro-platform VP during a conversational skit used to present the typical mainframe criticisms before extolling the virtues of the z14. Expect the fourth wall to be broken more than a few times, but it’s certainly a fun way to learn about the platform, especially if you’re a mainframe novice or someone skeptical of its qualities.

In fact, “IBM Z Crafted Conversations” is a prime opportunity for mainframe teams to expose their mainframe-skeptic CIOs, CTOs and other IT decision makers to the benefits of the platform, not to mention over a beer or two with free food.

Better yet, attendees could have a chance to meet some of the next-generation mainframe developers they may end up hiring eventually. Troy Crutcher, Project Manager for IBM’s Master the Mainframe contest, will be at most of the events with local students who are involved in Master the Mainframe and currently on track to join the mainframe workforce that companies are scrambling to rebuild as experts retire.

Ultimately, after IBM’s exclusion of the mainframe from much of 2017’s InterConnect, it’s good to see the z Systems team on the road working hard to promote the system of record—with all of its modern trappings—that serves as the bedrock of digital innovation for so many enterprises around the world.

Image: Flickr: ibmphoto24