Big Blue on Tuesday unveiled the fruit of its $1 billion investment to preserve leadership in the mainframe market. Dubbed the zEnterprise EC12 mainframe server, the new technology proves that IBM is serious about the growing need to secure and manage critical information with the System z mainframe.
The billion-dollar investment is Big Blue's big bet that enterprises are looking for new ways to secure and gain insights into financial, customer and enterprise resource data so they can offer better services. The new zEC12 supports operational analytics that aim to help clients sift through and transform large volumes of raw data into information that gives them a competitive edge.
Doug Balog, general manager for IBM System z, said the new offering is a response to the current enterprise demands around analytics, cloud and mobile computing.
"Our end-to-end design approach for smarter computing -- from processors to systems to software optimization -- is targeted to handle complicated business challenges associated with managing, protecting and analyzing a client's most critical information," Balog said.
It's also one of the ways IBM is working to position the mainframe as a must-have in the enterprise.
Focusing on Data Security
IBM pointed to the security of its new mainframe. Built-in security features are designed to meet the security and compliance requirements of different industries. With operational analytics and near real-time workload monitoring and analysis, IBM said clients can use the new zEC12 for a variety of workloads, including hybrid clouds.
IBM System z remains the only commercial server to achieve Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 5+ security classification. The new zEC12 builds on this with security and privacy features to help protect data at rest or in flight -- a critical capability in the age of Internet banking and mobile devices.
For example, zEC12 includes what IBM calls a "tamper-resistant cryptographic co-processor" known as Crypto Express4S. The processor provides privacy for transactions and sensitive data and can be configured to provide support for high-quality digital signatures used with applications for smart passports, national ID cards and online legal proceedings, replacing handwritten signatures as directed by the EU and the public sector.
IBM's Secret Sauce
We turned to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get the big picture on Big Blue's new offering. He told us IBM's long-term mainframe strategy combines two elements: striving to deliver better performance and modernizing features.
"IBM is offering features that large-scale enterprises like banks and financial trading systems and credit card firms that have been buying mainframes for the better part of 30, 40 and 50 years, really want," King said.
"At the same time, one of the reasons the mainframe has endured so long is that IBM has done a great job of modernizing it with new features and supporting new types of applications that smaller businesses or newer business processes or applications require. Not only is the mainframe still every bit as relevant today as it was when it was introduced, but it remains probably the best example of a business-critical computing system that is available."