IBM unveils z13s mainframe focused on security and hybrid clouds

IBM z13s mainframe chip

Brian David Flores, cryptographic hardware verification engineer, holding IBM's new z13s microprocessor chip.

Credit: IBM

The IBM z13s is the new entry point to the company's z Systems mainframes

IBM has unveiled its new z13s mainframe, which it claims offers encryption at twice the speed as previous mid-range systems, without compromising performance

The company, which sold its x86 server business to Lenovo, continues to invest in new designs of its mainframe to handle new compute challenges. It launched in January last year, the z13, its first new mainframe in almost three years, with a new processor design, faster I/O and the ability to address up to 10TB of memory. The design of the z13 was focused on real-time encryption and embedded analytics.

IBM said the z13s, targeted at mid-size organizations and described as the new entry point for the company's z Systems, has an "updated cryptographic and tamper-resistant hardware-accelerated cryptographic coprocessor cards with faster processors and more memory," allowing clients to process twice as many high-volume, cryptographically-protected transactions as before without compromising performance.

The company is also packaging with the mainframe threat monitoring based on behavior analytics and multi-factor authentication at the z/OS operating system level, and has also announced more independent software vendors that have integrated their software applications with the z Systems under IBM's partnership program called "Ready for IBM Security Intelligence."

The multi-factor authentication for z/OS, the first time such authentication has been integrated into the OS rather than offered as add-on software, requires privileged users to enter a second form of identification like a PIN or randomly generated token to access the system.

The z Systems Cyber Security Analytics offering, being developed by IBM Research, learns user behavior and alerts administrators if it detects unusual patterns on the platform.

The ISVs IBM has partnered with are BlackRidge Technology, RSM Partners and Forcepoint, which offer technologies in the area of identity-based network security, application readiness and penetration testing, and endpoint security of devices.

Although hybrid clouds offer flexibility to customers, they also present new vulnerabilities as more than half of all attackers come from the inside, IBM said. To avoid the impact of human error or meddling in operations, IBM said it is integrating its mainframe with its security technologies that address privileged identity management, sensitive data protection and integrated security intelligence.

The z13s will come in two models – the N10 and N20, IBM said in its FAQ on the mainframe. The N10 can be configured with up to 10 configurable cores and up to 1TB of memory, while the N20 can go up up to 20 configurable cores and up to 4TB of memory.

IBM plans to make the new z13s available in March this year. The company did not disclose the pricing of the new mainframe.

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