IBM Launches New z13 Mainframe

IBM's new z13 mainframe is built to support mobile, cloud and analytics workloads, establishing a renewed relevance for the mainframe system.

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IBM announced the launch of the thirteenth generation of its mainframe, the z13, which Big Blue refers to as "the most sophisticated computer system ever built."

IBM said the z13 has been developed for the mobile and cloud worlds and is able to process more than 2.8 billion transactions per day. The system delivers scale and economics together with real-time encryption and analytics to meet the expectations of consumers for speed and safety for trillions of transactions in the mobile economy.

The new z13 system culminates a $1 billion investment and five years of development, and exploits the innovation of more than 500 new patents. It also represents collaboration with more than 60 IBM clients.

"Every time a consumer makes a purchase or hits refresh on a smartphone, it can create a cascade of events on the back end of the computing environment," said Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of IBM Systems, in a statement. "The z13 is designed to handle billions of transactions for the mobile economy. Only the IBM mainframe can put the power of the world's most secure datacenters in the palm of your hand. Consumers expect fast, easy and secure mobile transactions. The implication for business is the creation of a secure, high performance infrastructure with sophisticated analytics."

IBM claims the new mainframe provides unprecedented capabilities, including being the first system able to process more than 2.5 billion transactions a day—the equivalent of 100 Cyber Mondays every day of the year. z13 transactions are persistent, protected and auditable from end to end, adding assurance as mobile transactions explode—estimated to grow to 40 trillion mobile transactions per day by 2025.

Big Blue also said the z13 is the first system to double the speed of real-time encryption technologies for faster and safer mobile transactions. The z13 speeds real-time encryption of mobile transactions to help protect the transaction data and accelerate response times. The system leverages new patents, including cryptographic encryption technologies that enable more security for mobile device transactions.

In addition, IBM said the z13's embedded analytics provide real-time insights on mobile transactions—17 times faster than any other method at a fraction of the cost. This capability can help guarantee real-time fraud detection on business transactions by delivering "on the fly" analytic insights.

"From a systems perspective, the z13 probably is the most sophisticated commercial computer ever built, but you could make similar claims about past mainframe generations," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "That said, the z13 packs in an awful lot of updates and improvements, including the fastest mainframe processor ever developed, far more memory than past systems (also key to its integrated analytics features) and the ability to support up to 8,000 virtual machines in a single system."

As mobile adoption grows, consumers are driving exponentially larger numbers of mobile transactions. Each of these mobile transactions triggers a cascade of events across computing systems. These events include comparisons to past purchases, data encryption and decryption, bank to bank reconciliations and customer loyalty discounts. This cascade of events causes a so-called "starburst effect"—where a single transaction can trigger as few as four or as many as 100 additional system interactions.

Consequently, the starburst effect creates security vulnerabilities at each interaction point, IBM said. In fact, 71 percent of CIOs and IT managers surveyed by IBMindicated that security is their most significant mobile enterprise challenge. With data and transactions under constant threat from multiple points of attack, consumers want to know that their mobile data is as secure as financial data held by banks.

When combined with IBM MobileFirst solutions, the z13 delivers enhanced performance, availability, analytics and security that will drive optimal mobile user experiences. IBM MobileFirst Protect delivers security and end-to-end management of clients' infrastructure and all its devices, apps, content and transactions.