IBM mainframe operating system to get huge security boost

IBM tomorrow is expected to roll out a new version of its z/OS mainframe operating system that features a huge swig of security enhancements. These enhancements include: ·          Improved network security policy management – making it easier to set network security policy across multiple instances of z/OS mainframe operating systems. Administrators only need to define one centralized policy to enforce network encryption rules and intrusion detection for all z/OS systems within a company, IBM said. Today individual systems must be enabled separately. ·          Enhanced Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) services to help improve the creation, authentication, renewal, and management of digital certificates for user and device authentication. By managing digital certificates directly through their z/OS mainframe, customers can potentially see substantial savings compared to the cost of third party hosting, IBM said in a release. This capability is essential in creating the digital certificates for buyers and sellers to conduct secure business transactions online. z/OS's PKI can be used for many important tasks, such as securing a wireless network infrastructure using WPA security, exploiting smartcard technology on credit and cash cards and securing the end nodes of a VPN that might be hosting Point of Sale or ATM communications traffic.   ·          Adoption of the security standard, PKCS #11, which specifies an application programming interface for devices that hold cryptographic information and perform cryptographic functions. These functions are now provided on z/OS to help host applications that utilize this standard onto z/OS to take advantage of the centralized key storage provided by z/OS. z/OS Version 1 Release 9  will also include the  ability for a logical partition within the mainframe to span 54 processors.  With prior releases, z/OS let a partition span 32 processors. As the mainframe has grown, so has its hardware capacity, now up to 54 total processors on the z9 Enterprise Class server. Improvements to z/OS Unix System Services to help users port Unix applications onto the mainframe. Unix System Services lets users run Unix on the mainframe; with z/OS 1.9, IBM has enhanced some z/OS Unix commands to help the porting of Unix apps to the mainframe.  The new OS will be available on Sept. 28. It will run on the zSeries 800, 890, 900, 990 and z9  servers, and will be released around the same time that z/OS 1.6 support from IBM ends. The mainframe in general has been getting some good press of late.  Big Blue last month said  it was consolidating nearly 4,000 small computer servers in six locations onto about 30 refrigerator-sized mainframes running Linux saving $250 million in the process. IDC recently reported that the IBM mainframe posted its fifth consecutive quarter of revenue growth and outgrew Windows-based servers in 2006 in terms of revenue.  And IBM said will spend $100 million over the next five years to make the mainframe easier to use.  

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