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Say hello to ‘the most powerful and secure system ever built’

IBM launches z13 Mainframe for mobile economy, claims capability of 2.5bn transactions per day

Say hello to ‘the most powerful and secure system ever built’
According to IBM, it took five years and a $1bn investment to build the z13, which draws on 500 new patents.

IBM has announced its z13 Mainframe, which it boldly claims is "one of the most sophisticated computer systems ever built".

The enterprise solutions giant also said the z13, which is targeted at mobile computing, delivers "scale and economics together" and includes capabilities such as real-time encryption and analytics.

According to IBM, it took five years and a $1bn investment to build the z13, which draws on 500 new patents, and involved collaboration with more than 60 of the tech firm's clients. 

"Every time a consumer makes a purchase or hits refresh on a smart phone, it can create a cascade of events on the back end of the computing environment," explained Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president, IBM Systems. "The z13 is designed to handle billions of transactions for the mobile economy... 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 several world-firsts for the z13 Mainframe. It is said to be the first system able to process 2.5bn transactions in a day and each of those processes is auditable from end-to-end. Z13 is also described by IBM as the first to "make practical real-time encryption of all mobile transactions at any scale", meaning the system speeds up real-time encryption of mobile transactions to help protect the transaction data but deliver sharp response times. And, according to IBM, z13 is the first mainframe system with embedded real-time analytics, which the company hopes will help with real-time fraud detection on 100% of client business transactions by delivering "‘on the fly' analytic insights that are 17 times faster than compared competitive systems at a fraction of the cost".


One of the problems z13 is designed to overcome is the so-called "starburst" effect, where a single mobile transaction can cause a cascade of others, resulting in between four and 100 resultant processes spinning off from a single consumer interaction. This cascade can lead to security vulnerabilities. 

"When combined with IBM MobileFirst solutions, the z13 delivers enhanced performance, availability, analytics and security that will drive optimal mobile user experiences," IBM said in a statement.

The z13 features the world's fastest microprocessor, according to IBM. The company claims it is twice as fast as "the most common server processors". Also included is 300% more memory, 100% more bandwidth and vector processing analytics to speed mobile transactions. All of this helps z13 to analyse transactions in real time, which IBM hopes will help prevent fraud as it occurs and allow financial institutions to halt the transaction before the consumer is hit. IBM has even gone as far as guaranteeing this capability as a feature of the system.

"This scoring can be used for fraud detection on 100% of a client's business transactions," the company said, adding the proviso: "To qualify, clients will need to install a z13, the latest versions of DB2 and SPSS Scoring Adapter, and follow IBM's capacity-planning implementation instructions and processes. Guarantee will be in place for one year, aligned with warranty period."

The real-time processing capability of z13 is not just applicable to security provisions, however. IBM envisions a strong proposition for business intelligence and CRM as a customer's purchasing habits can be analysed to offer up-sell and cross-sell promotions "before they leave the store, and in some cases before they even enter", using IBM's predictive analytics modelling technology, SPSS.

IBM further claims z13 "lowers the cost of running cloud".

"For compared environments, it is estimated that a z Systems cloud on a z13 will have a 32% lower total cost of ownership over three years than an x86 cloud and a 60% lower total cost of ownership over three years than a public cloud," the company said, citing its own performance comparison tests. The z13 is also based on open standards, with full support for Linux and OpenStack.

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