IBM z15: The Next Generation Expands Z Capabilities for Security in Hybrid Clouds

September 12, 2019

IBM z15: The Next Generation Expands Z Capabilities for Security in Hybrid Clouds

By Jean S. Bozman

IBM applied the design thinking to its flagship IBM Z mainframe system, the IBM z15. Based on customer feedback over the last four years, IBM has made management easier and provides administrators greater visibility into the system, while supporting cloud-native development, containers and migration to hybrid clouds. The system includes 25% more memory and capacity build than the z14.

For its new IBM z15 system, launched Sept. 12 2019, IBM focused on application modernization, DevOps, and security, providing new features in each of these categories. By doing so, IBM supports longtime customers’ cloud migrations, while attracting new customers who might not have considered purchasing the platform.

The core new offerings are IBM z15 system that runs Linux and z/OS workloads and the IBM LinuxONE III system is optimized for for Linux. Versatility in deployments is important, as customers consolidate workloads for their on-prem data centers, while migrating new apps into the hybrid cloud. Both the z15 and the LinuxONE III fit into 19-inch industry-standard frames, and support water- and air-cooling, to meet a variety of data-center designs, which vary by location and service provider.


What’s New in the IBM z15 and IBM LinuxONE III

The IBM z15 has a number of new features including:

  • On-chip hardware that gives customers the ability to perform pervasive data compression. All data can be compressed to help increase the speed of data transfers and greatly reduce storage requirements. Combining pervasive compression with pervasive encryption can significantly reduce CPU usage while also securing all data.
  • Data Privacy Passports that help to protect individuals’ personal data. Technology protects personal data by firstly encrypting sensitive data, implementing specific role-based controls over access to individuals’ data, and finally providing full audit and compliance visibility into the protection over personal data.
  • Expanded support for Red Hat OpenShift containers to help clients accelerate their journey to the cloud and to develop a cloud first development strategy.
  • Future support for IBM Cloud Paks which are containerized, cloud-ready application packages that run on Red Hat OpenShift.
  • Cloud-Native Development for application modernization, supporting software containers (e.g., Red Hat Open Shift and Docker) and cloud-wide container orchestration (e.g., Kubernetes).
  • Instant Recovery to help clients reduce planned, and unplanned, downtime – and support fast restart of applications for large enterprises. Instant Recovery allows clients to isolate applications and restart them without interrupting other workloads
  • 190 cores per scale-up system cabinet – 20 more cores than the z14
  • 25% more memory than z14
  • 25% more capacity growth than IBM z14


New Customers for Migrating Workloads, New Secure Cloud Deployments

IBM is also gaining new customer traction because of the security capabilities built into the Z and LinuxONE platforms. IBM Z and LinuxONE have security features that are built in and pre-integrated throughout both the hardware and software stacks. The advantage to that approach is that customers do not need to integrate and manage a variety of third-party software and security services.

IBM’s pervasive encryption capabilities were announced with z14, and have been a major driver for new customer interest. Pervasive encryption can encrypt data both at rest and in flight and can be used to protect data on premises, or, alternatively, on the Z or LinuxONE on the cloud. To reduce the compute overhead that is typically associated with bulk encryption, IBM has developed on-chip encryption processing hardware to handle the encryption in an efficient and fast manner. The new z15 and LinuxONE offerings offer faster data encryption rates compared to z14.

IBM’s new Data Privacy Passports technology helps to secure personal data about individuals. Data about an individual is encrypted, and remains protected no matter where the data resides. Employees who need access to the data are only able to view the data that is necessary for their job. Administrators and auditors are able to see who has accessed specific data throughout the data lifecycle. Data Passports are designed to complement the z15’s and LinuxONE’s built-in pervasive encryption.

This new approach to securing personal data will likely draw the attention of net new Z platform customers. There is a growing mandate to protect customer and employee data, no matter where it resides. In addition, after many highly publicized data breaches, businesses are demanding new ways to approach data security.


Customer Scenarios: 2020 and Beyond

Changing dynamics in the market, based on the growing demand for cloud support, are redefining the way in which enterprise organizations will be considering IBM Z in 2020, and beyond.

Migration of enterprise workloads and databases to run in private, public or hybrid clouds is well underway. But there is much more to do in what IBM characterizes as Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 deployments of the era of cloud migration. Chapter 1 brought application development and testing to the cloud, as well as many customer facing and mobile apps to the cloud. However, relatively few mission critical production workloads were moved to the cloud.

Businesses are quickly entering Chapter 2, where more enterprise workloads are being migrated to cloud and hybrid cloud environments. To help accelerate this transformation, organizations are adopting new DevOps methodologies, continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD), cloud-native software as well as containers and container orchestration software. IBM believes all of these net-new workloads will benefit from the resilience, security and processing power of IBM z15 and IBM LinuxONE

The z15 launch underscores IBM’s strategy to bring more enterprise support to hybrid cloud end-to-end applications – both for the hardware and software supporting the overall value proposition for enterprise customers. IBM Z platform customers that are starting or accelerating their plans to adopt a cloud native development strategy will benefit from the Red Hat acquisition because of the company’s container application platform,

In 2020, and beyond, IBM and Red Hat will be working to provide the hardware and software building-blocks for the new cloud-centric computing environment. Digital transformation for purposes of business agility – a goal for many customers – will depend on moving those enterprise production requirements to a new age of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments. The IBM z15 and IBM LinuxONE systems are designed to support those goals, and to support the peaks, bursts and flows of workloads in the cloud era.


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About Jean Bozman

Jean is a senior industry analyst focusing her research on server technology, storage technology, database software and the emerging market for Software Defined Infrastructure (SDI).