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In the 21st Century Digital Age in which servers and applications are increasingly interconnected via public, hybrid and on-premises cloud networks; virtualization and Internet of Things (IoT), organizations require near flawless security, system availability and reliability.

Unplanned downtime irrespective of the reason is unacceptable and costly due to its negative impact on productivity. When network servers, OSs and applications are unavailable, business ceases. This has a domino effect on corporate enterprises, customers, business partners and suppliers. Four nines – 99.99% uptime is now the minimum reliability required by 79% of organizations.

IBM Z Next Features

The IBM Z, the 14th generation of IBM’s industry-leading mainframe technology, advances the already solid and robust security and reliability features inherent in the platform over the last decade. It also amps up the processing power to new levels. The IBM z14 has the ability to process 12 Billion encrypted transactions daily. It accomplishes this via the industry’s fastest microprocessor and a new scalable system structure that delivers a 35 percent capacity increase for traditional workloads and a 50 percent capacity increase for Linux workloads compared to the previous generation IBM z13.The system can support:

  • More than 12 billion encrypted transactions per day on a single system.
  • The world’s largest MongoDB instance with2.5x faster NodeJS performance than x86-based platforms.
  • Two million Docker Containers.
  • 1,000 concurrent NoSQL databases.

Other new capabilities in the IBM Z Next include:

  • • Three times the memory of the z13 for faster response times, greater throughput and accelerated analytics performance. With 32TB of memory, IBM Z offers one of the largest memory footprints in the industry.
  • Three times faster I/O and accelerated transaction processing compared to the z13 to drive growth in data, transaction throughput and lower response time.
  • Pervasive Encryption for rock solid security.
  • The ability to run Java workloads 50 percent faster than x86 alternatives
  • Improved Storage Area Network response time with zHyperLink, delivering 10x latency reduction compared to the z13. This cuts application response time in half – enabling businesses to do much more work such as real-time analytics or interact with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and cloud applications within the same transaction, without changing a single line of application code.
  • IBM also previewed new z/OS software that provides foundational capabilities for private cloud service delivery. This allows organizations to transform from an IT cost center to a value-generating service provider. When available, these capabilities will include the support of workflow extensions for IBM Cloud Provisioning and Management for z/OS and real-time SMF analytics infrastructure support.

The Most Powerful Transaction System for the Cloud Era

According to IBM, its latest Z mainframe builds on the capabilities of the world’s most powerful transaction engine at the center of global commerce today supporting:

  • 87 percent of all credit card transactions and nearly $8 trillion payments a year.
  • 29 billion ATM transactions each year, worth nearly $5 billion per day.
  • Four billion passenger flights each year.
  • More than 30 billion transactions per day – more than the number of Google searches every day.
  • 68 percent of the world’s production workloads at only six percent of the total IT cost.

Security is Inherent in IBM Z

All of the aforementioned new IBM Z capabilities reinforce the already robust Reliability and Security features that IBM has embedded into the platform over the past decade. This in turn, serves to strengthen the IBM Z as a premier platform for the Cloud and IoT environments.

IBM integrated security directly into the Z platform – it’s not an add-on feature. In both the current IBM Z Next and prior z13 servers, IBM was acutely aware that the complex nature of security features and capabilities can present a significant impediment to deployment. Hence, it made a conscious decision to simplify security across the Z line of mainframes.

Applications like Big Data, analytics, cloud, virtualization and IoT environments all demand the highest levels of security. IBM’s strategy is to deliver the most robust set of security tools and capabilities and support state-of-the-art encryption and make it easy for IT security professionals to implement.

The Z servers incorporate a wide range of security capabilities. These include:

  • Consistent policy based user authentication, access control, audit and management
  • Protecting critical data with high-speed encryption and centralized key management
  • Creating a secure foundation for enterprise cloud and consolidated workloads
  • Strengthened compliance and audit responsiveness to evolving regulations
  • Reduced operation risk with early detection of application and network vulnerabilities
  • Encryption at the click of a button — even while applications are running — and the ability to migrate data from unencrypted to encrypted without impacting performance.

For the ninth year in a row, corporate enterprise users said IBM’s z Systems Enterprise mainframe class server achieved near flawless reliability, recording less than 10 seconds of unplanned per server downtime each month.

Those are the results of the independent ITIC 2017 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability survey which polled 750 organizations worldwide during April/May 2017. In order to obtain the most accurate and unbiased results, ITIC accepted no vendor sponsorship for the study.

Looking more deeply at the Survey results, security and continuous uptime/reliability are two of the most crucial considerations that all organizations should take into account when choosing mission critical server, including those that serve as the foundation for cloud-based, virtualization and Internet of Things (IoT) deployments.

Despite their importance, reliability and security issues are often eclipsed by performance, configuration, features/functions and scalability in discussions involving powerful high-end server platforms, such as the IBM Z mainframe. Businesses, their IT departments and security professionals take for granted that mainframes and other high-end server platforms will, by definition, deliver optimal Reliability, Security and safeguards.

However, many organizations fail to consider that Reliability doesn’t just occur automatically and all security is not created or delivered equally in terms of ease-of-use and deployment. IBM executives and customers elucidated exactly how Big Blue differentiates the inherent security capabilities and features in its Z Next family from competitors.

That’s not the case with the newest IBM z14 mainframe.

ITIC Reliability Survey Finds IBM z Mainframe Delivers Best Reliability and Security

ITIC’s 2017 Global Server Hardware, Server OS Reliability survey which polled 750 businesses during May found that among mainstream servers, the IBM Z platform delivered the highest levels of reliability/uptime – among 13 server hardware and 11 different server hardware virtualization platforms. Specifically, 88% of the over 750 global respondents indicated that the IBM Z delivered the equivalent of 99.999% or 99.9999% uptime and availability.

The IBM Z family of mainframe class servers has consistently delivered the highest levels of Reliability and Security, according to the results of every ITIC survey conducted since 2008.

  • The latest ITIC 2017 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability was no exception. Corporate enterprises ranked the IBM Z server platform Number One in every category. IBM Z mainframe class servers once again had the distinction of being ranked “best in class” for reliability, accessibility, performance, and security among all servers.
  • Most Reliable: IBM Z mainframe class servers exhibit true mainframe fault tolerance experiencing just 0.96 – less than one minute of unplanned per server, per annum annual downtime. That equates to just eight (8) seconds per month or “blink and you miss it,” two (2) seconds of weekly downtime.
  • Least Unplanned Downtime: The IBMZ family of servers also the lowest incidence – 0% — of >4 hours of per server/per annum downtime of any hardware platform (See Exhibit 2).
  • IBM Z ranked Number One in overall customer satisfaction
  • Highest Security Ratings: 94% of respondents rated the IBM Z platform security as “Excellent,” 4% ranked it “Very Good” and 2% gave it a “Good” rating.
  • Most Secure Server Platform: The IBM Z corporate customers reported the fewest number of successful penetrations over the last 12 – 24 months. The IBM Z platform respondents averaged less than one (<1) successful security penetrations in the last two years (See Exhibit 3). And among the three (3) IBM Z organizations that were hacked, all reported they were able to identify, isolate and thwart the attack before it could inflict any damage.
  • IBM Power Systems, Lenovo System x and Cisco server security also scored well: IBM Power Systems servers averaged five penetrations in the last 12 to 24 months; while Lenovo System x servers and Cisco UCS servers were successfully hacked six times in the same two-year span. By contrast, respondents using competing platforms averaged from 8 to 22 successful penetrations during the same 24 month period.
  • IBM hardware running the Z/OS and Linux operating system distributions ranked first every Reliability category, including cloud, virtualization and security.

Infrastructure reliability and security are core, foundational elements of robust, high performance, flexible, agile and scalable networks. As such they are more crucial than ever to the business, and its bottom line. Corporate computing environments continue to increase in size. They are also becoming ever more compute-intensive. Organizations are also expanding their use of complex technologies like public, hybrid and on-premises cloud networks, virtualization, Big Data Analytics and Cognitive Computing.

Additionally, the scope of networks is expanding via Internet of Things (IoT) and the Network Edge/Perimeter deployments – all of which incorporate mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solutions. In these situations, it is imperative that the core infrastructure servers deliver the highest availability. The latest ITIC survey data indicates that 79% of corporate respondents now require 99.99% availability. This is an increase of seven percent from the 72% of respondents in ITIC’s prior 2016 survey a year ago.

On the security front, the sharp rise in interconnected servers, applications and people, coupled with the pervasive use of BYOD and mobile devices has increased the “attack surface or vector” exponentially. There are myriad sources of security breaches. They originate everywhere: from the network edge, to the data center, in the cloud and from mobile devices. Hackers themselves are more sophisticated and the attacks are more pernicious. As a result, inherent, robust, intelligent and automated security is an absolute necessity.

Reliability and security have always been crucial and necessary elements of a successful network and systems infrastructure. They are even more important in today’s digital age of interconnected systems, networks, devices, applications and people, where the chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Server hardware is the bedrock upon which an organization’s daily operations rest. Any disruption or outage of even a few minutes will have immediate consequences. It will cause a domino effect that will reverberate throughout the entire ecosystem of the corporation’s end users, business partners, customers and suppliers.

ITIC’s Reliability Survey Data found that the average enterprise workload has increased by 34% since 2015. This is due to larger, more compute-intensive applications.

Overall, some 48% of the survey respondents indicated that the increase in data center server workloads has had a noticeable impact on monthly and annual server reliability/availability and uptime. However, among IBM Z server platform respondents, only two percent (2%) of businesses indicated that server reliability was adversely impacted by an increase in workloads and among this two percent of respondents, the overwhelming majority (91%) reported mild increases in server downtime of one to three percentage points.

IBM’s ongoing efforts to harden the embedded security in the Z mainframe platform are also borne out in the survey responses. Once again, the IBM Z servers achieved the highest security ratings from customers  with 94% of respondents giving it an “Excellent” rating; 4% ranked it “Very Good” and the remaining 2% said “Good.” None of the respondents gave IBM Z mainframe security anything less than a Good grade.

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