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.
IBM Launches New z13 Mainframe
“The sheer transaction muscle of the new systems is impressive but also answers the order of magnitude increases in transactions that banks, financial institutions and credit card companies expect as individual sales trigger ‘star bursts’ of associated interactions,” King said. “In essence, IBM has, yet again, re-imagined and reinvented the mainframe for a new generation of transaction processing. That should keep the platform relevant for IBM’s dedicated enterprise mainframe customers and could also inspire other businesses to consider z13 solutions.”
Moreover, IBM claims the z13 will feature the world’s fastest microprocessor, twice as fast as the most common server processors, with 300 percent more memory and 100 percent more bandwidth and vector processing analytics to speed mobile transactions. IBM has designed the z13 to integrate real-time scoring and guarantees this capability as a feature of the system. This scoring can be used for fraud detection.
In addition to assistance with fraud prevention, businesses looking to enhance their customer loyalty programs will be able to use new z13 capabilities to add more personalization by gaining a real-time view of a client’s purchasing habits to offer upsell and cross-sell promotions before they leave the store—and in some cases before they even enter. With the z13, businesses will be able to use IBM’s predictive analytics modeling technology, SPSS, and personalize the transaction as it occurs.
“The big question in my mind now is how the market will react to these changes,” said Joe Clabby, founder of Clabby Analytics. “The mainframe is now capable of delivering analytics results on transactional data in real time. And this means that data no longer needs to be ETLed to distributed processors. But the ETL [Extract, Transform, Load] process has been instantiated over a couple of decades—so people are used to moving their data to other processors for analysis. Plus, those same people are usually ‘distributed systems’ customers who will not be exactly thrilled to see work moving out of the distributed computing silo to mainframe environments.”
The mainframe includes new support for Hadoop, enabling unstructured data to be analyzed in the system. Other analytics advances include faster acceleration of queries by adding DB2 BLU for Linux, providing an in-memory database, enhancements to the IBM DB2 analytics accelerator and vastly improved performance for mathematically intense analytics workloads, IBM said.
The z13’s cloud architecture has the ability to scale and reliably and securely handle multiple workloads. In a scale-out model, it is capable of running up to 8,000 virtual servers—more than 50 virtual servers per core, allowing for lower software, energy and facilities costs, IBM said. In addition, IBM said the z13 lowers the cost of running cloud on the mainframe to almost half the cost of running cloud on an x86/distributed server environment, while boosting performance by up to 30 percent. Additionally, the z13 is an open platform, fully supporting Linux, OpenStack and more.
As part of the z13 announcement, IBM also previewed new z/OS software that delivers advanced analytic and data serving capabilities. This new operating system expands the ability of the z13 to process in-memory analytics and provide analysis on mobile transactions, helping clients further extend mainframe enterprise applications to the mobile user.
A new mainframe represents a significant boost to the IBM sales cycle, and the z13, with its focus on supporting mobile, cloud and analytics workloads, signifies IBM’s push to shift more of its focus to higher growth markets. The move also indicates that the mainframe remains relevant in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. This launch complements IBM’s ongoing investments to help clients drive mobile innovation across the enterprise.
“The reason that it makes sense to push to a mainframe architecture for tablet and smartphone loads is that these devices are increasingly connected to ever faster services and, to preserve battery and assure security, much of the data and processing power has to be in the cloud,” said Rob Enderle, founder of the Enderle Group. “If you look at Seri and Cortana, these two differentiating services are hosted and don’t work if the device isn’t connected.”