IBM Blockchain Gains Traction for Shipping with TradeLens

June 6, 2019

Most everything that touches our lives takes a long trip across the ocean. With 90 percent of the goods we use every day — from toothbrushes to furniture — transported as ocean freight, you appreciate the scale and importance of the global shipping industry.

IBM’s TradeLens Gains New Shipping Partners

Blockchain is helping to modernize the shipping industry, which for years has dealt with isolated systems that require reams of paperwork to get freight from its point of origin to its final destination. Maersk, a leader in global shipping, found that a simple shipment can go through nearly 30 people and organizations.

The Z should be ideal for blockchain. It has the scalability, security, and rock solid reliability that benefits blockchain.

In an effort to transform this complex and far-reaching industry, several years ago IBM and Maersk embarked on a pilot to digitize global trade and share the resulting information. Last August they announced TradeLens, a blockchain-enabled platform that promotes information sharing, collaboration, and trust among trading partners. In less than a year, TradeLens entered production and is now operating with more than 100 participants who are tracking and sharing over 500 million shipping events and documents. The platform uses open standards, open governance and open APIs to ensure the entire industry can benefit and drive continued innovation, while at the same time providing much-needed security and data privacy.

TradeLens has now reached a major tipping point: two of the top ocean cargo carriers, CMA CGM and MSC, have joined the platform. By joining forces to rapidly expand the geographic reach and scope of TradeLens, shippers like Procter & Gamble can get a single real-time view of all of its containerized cargo, regardless of whether its cargo is carried on a Maersk, CMA CGM or MSC ship or any of the other 10 ocean carriers now on the network and also are assured that their data is not visible to their competitors.

TradeLens brings together not just ocean carriers but port and terminal operators, inland transportation providers, customs authorities, cargo owners and freight forwarders. As TradeLens grows, the benefit to all grows through greater visibility, consistent information, better collaboration and shared insights–all achieved fast and with less labor. Modernizing the shipping supply chain using this kind of technology has the potential to add billions of dollars of value creation to the global shipping industry; maybe even enough to help offset some of the President’s latest tariffs.

CMA CGM and MSC plan to bring their terminals on board and offer the TradeLens platform through open source Hyperledger blockchain technology,  along with a toolkit for developers to make it easy to build and innovate on the open platform. TradeLens is also working with openshipping.org to align its APIs with the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) standards.

With the new participants TradeLens is better positioned to get insight into other key requirements for continued innovation and interoperability. For example, TradeLens plans to support the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) efforts on interoperability and standards in container shipping.

At the same time, TradeLens is designed for security and data privacy, which are essential to the success of a business network that includes not just partners but competitors. TradeLens uses IBM Blockchain technology to give trading partners a shared view of transactions without compromising details, privacy, or confidentiality, ensuring  an immutable record of transactions. Perfect for Z.

Everyone in the shipping business can benefit. On TradeLens, ocean carriers can operate independent blockchain nodes for data sharing related to their contracted consignments. Access controls let data owners prescriptively determine different levels of permission for data access. Data owners also control their data even after it becomes part of the blockchain flow.

Equally important, the momentum of TradeLens demonstrates the growing adoption of blockchain, which already is used in banking, food safety, supply chain and other industries where trading systems must be digitized, shared, and secured. Today Blockchain and the TradeLens platform tracks more than 10 million events per week.

Blockchain is a team sport, and IBM and its latest partners hope that those who have been watching and waiting will now make a commitment to join TradeLens. It’s the best way transform global shipping for the industry and for themselves.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

Welcome to Tailored Fit Pricing

May 16, 2019

For as long as DancingDinosaur has been writing about the Z users have been captive to the rolling 4-hour avg.(R4HA) pricing.IBM’s announcement earlier this week changes this if you want to. And most of you probably will want to once you recognize all the constraints you have been chafing against for decades.

As IBM puts it, Tailored Fit Pricing (TFP) is a new cloud-like pricing model for the IBM Z models. The objective is to further position the z as the center of a secured enterprise hybrid cloud strategy. The promise is to empower z customers to expand the use of their z in pursuit of different forms of cloud computing as well as to give them the pricing flexibility to build and manage their new cloud-based environments.

This is not going to be a sure-bet no-brainer. To begin, you will need to figure out how you will want to incorporate the z into a hybrid cloud strategy now and, more importantly in the future as those strategies further evolve.

For now TFP comes in two basic flavors:

  1. The Enterprise Consumption Solution, a tailored consumption-based licensing model.
  2. The Enterprise Capacity Solution, a tailored full-capacity licensing model.

Both flavors promise to simplify the existing pricing landscape, delivering flexible deployment options that are tailored to reflect today’s rapidly evolving customer individual environments. Each model includes additional capacity for development and test environments as well as reduced pricing for all types of workload growth.

Beware, however. TFP was not designed to reduce Z pricing overall. Eliminating the R4HA may not reduce your software costs. In fact, your new hybrid cloud strategy may increase your processing volume in such a way that your overall software costs may go up. IBM has no interest in reducing your overall software costs unless your are increasing your overall MSU consumption in the course of doing more work and more new types of work on your z.

Don’t want to be crass but IBM’s goal is to sell more z MIPS, and it will give up the R4HA, which is doomed anyway, to do that. Your challenge is to figure out how best to use what IBM is ceding to come up with the most advantageous hybrid system strategy at the lowest cost your can come up with within the new rules, which amounts to consumption-based pricing, with economies of scale for workloads on z/OS. As with consumption based pricing the pricing adjusts with usage, removing the need for complex and restrictive capping, and includes aggressive pricing for growth–remember, IBM is rigging this to encourage z MIPS growth

As such, the capacity solution allows you to mix and match workloads to maximize the full capacity of the z. At the end of the day, TFP is designed to both unlock the full power of the z platform and deliver optimal response times and service-level agreements.

And IBM is not stopping here. It also has some new goodies to drive z usage: Specifically, it is adding z/OS container extensions. This is intended to modernize and extend z/OS applications by adding the ability to run Linux on IBM z Docker containers in direct support of z/OS workloads on the same z/OS system. The z/OS Container Extensions will enable access to the most recent development tools and processes available in the Linux on the Z ecosystem, which enables developers to build new, cloud-native containerized apps and deploy them on z/OS without requiring Linux or a Linux partition.

Finally, IBM is introducing the z/OS Cloud Broker, which gives you the ability to access and deploy z/OS resources and services on IBM Cloud Private, leting you customize your unique data landscape with an open, endlessly extensible architecture on any cloud.. This should help you achieve a more seamless and universal cloud development experience. The z/OS Cloud Broker is designed to encourage cloud application developers to provision and deprovision z/OS environments to support the app development cycle. As a tool for simplified management and access to critical enterprise services; IBM z/OS Cloud Broker provides a single control plane across z/OS, Linux on Z, Power, and public clouds. In turn, this can help optimize management efficiencies and achieve speed of innovation.

In its pricing announcement IBM also slipped in references to the IBM Cloud Hyper Protect family of cloud-native services. Hyper Protect offers a range of on- and off-premises deployment choices for extending IBM Z services and data—while balancing performance, availability or security.

In the end, notes IBM, the company sees a secure hybrid and multi-cloud as the future enterprise IT with IBM Z at the center. DancingDinosaur sees that too, but not in exactly the same terms.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

Syncsort Drives IBMi Security with AI

May 2, 2019

The technology security landscape looks increasingly dangerous  The problem revolves around the possible impact of AI. the impact of which is not fully clear. The hope, of course, is that AI will make security more efficient and effective.  However, the security bad actors can also jump on AI to advance their own schemes. Like a cyber version of the nuclear arms race, this has been an ongoing battle for decades. The industry has to cooperate and, specifically, share information and hope the good guys can stay a step ahead.

In the meantime, vendors like IBM and most recently Syncsort have been stepping up to  the latest challengers. Syncsort, for example, earlier this month launched its Assure Security to address the increasing sophistication of cyber attacks and expanding data privacy regulations.  In surprising ways, it turns out, data privacy and AI are closely related in the AI security battle.

Syncsort, a leader in Big Iron-to-Big Data software, announced Assure Security, which combines access control, data privacy, compliance monitoring, and risk assessment into a single product. Together, these capabilities help security officers, IBMi administrators, and Db2 administrators address critical security challenges and comply with new regulations meant to safeguard and protect the privacy of data.

And it clearly is coming at the right time.  According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a non-profit corporation with a mission to advocate for data privacy there were 828 reported security incidents in 2018 resulting in the exposure of over 1.37 billion records of sensitive data. As regulations to help protect consumer and business data become stricter and more numerous, organizations must build more robust data governance and security programs to keep the data from being exploited by bad security actors for nefarious purposes.  The industry already has scrambled to comply with GDPR and the New York Department of Financial Services Cybersecurity regulations and they now must prepare for the GDPR-like California Consumer Privacy Act, which takes effect January 1, 2020.

In its own survey Syncsort found security is the number one priority among IT pros with IBMi systems. “Given the increasing sophistication of cyber attacks, it’s not surprising 41 percent of respondents reported their company experienced a security breach and 20 percent more were unsure if they even had been breached,” said David Hodgson, CPO, Syncsort. The company’s new Assure Security product leverages the wealth of IBMi security technology and the expertise to help organizations address their highest-priority challenges. This includes protecting against vulnerabilities introduced by new, open-source methods of connecting to IBMi systems, adopting new cloud services, and complying with expanded government regulations.

Of course, IBM hasn’t been sleeping through this. The company continues to push various permutations of Watson to tackle the AI security challenge. For example, IBM leverages AI to gather insights and use reasoning to identify relationships between threats, such as malicious files, suspicious IP addresses,  or even insiders. This analysis takes seconds or minutes, allowing security analysts to respond to threats up to 60 times faster.

It also relies on AI to eliminate time-consuming research tasks and provides curated analysis of risks, which reduces the amount of time security analysts require to make the critical decisions and launch an orchestrated response to counter each threat. The result, which IBM refers to as cognitive security, combines the strengths of artificial intelligence and human intelligence.

Cognitive AI in effect, learns with each interaction to proactively detect and analyze threats and provides actionable insights to security analysts making informed decisions. Such cognitive security, let’s hope, combines the strengths of artificial intelligence with human judgement.

Syncsort’s Assure Security, specifically brings together best-in-class IBMi security capabilities acquired by Syncsort into an all-in-one solution, with the flexibility for customers to license individual modules. The resulting product includes:

  • Assure  Compliance Monitoring quickly identifies security and compliance issues with real-time alerts and reports on IBMi system activity and database changes.
  • Assure Access Control provides control of access to IBMi systems and their data through a varied bundle of capabilities.
  • Assure Data Privacy protects IBMi data at-rest and in-motion from unauthorized access and theft through a combination of NIST-certified encryption, tokenization, masking, and secure file transfer capabilities.
  • Assure Security Risk Assessment examines over a dozen categories of security values, open ports, power users, and more to address vulnerabilities.

It probably won’t surprise anyone but the AI security situation is not going to be cleared up soon. Expect to see a steady stream of headlines around security hits and misses over the next few years. Just hope will get easier to separate the good guys from the bad actors and the lessons will be clear.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

IBM Revamps V5000

April 5, 2019

On April 2nd IBM announced several key enhancements across the Storwize V5000 portfolio and along with new models. These new models include the V5010E, 5030E and the V5100. The E stands for EXPRESS.) To further complicate the story, it utilizes Broadwell, Intel’s new 14 nanometer die shrink of its Haswell microarchitecture. Broadwell did not completely replace the full range of CPUs from Intel’s previous Haswell microarchitecture but IBM is using it widely in the new V5000 models.

IBM NVMe Flash Core Module

And the results can be impressive. From a scale-out perspective the V5010E supports a single controller configuration, while the V5030E and V5100 both support up to two controller clusters. This provides for a maximum of 392 drives in the V5010E and a massive 1520 drives in either the V5030E or V5100 dual controller clusters. The V5030E includes the Broadwell DE 1.9GHz, 6 core processor in its two canisters. Each canister supports a maximum of 32GB of RAM. Better still, the V5100 boasts a single Skylake 1.7Ghz processor with 8 cores in each canister. RAM is increased to a total of 576GB for the entire controller, or 288GB maximum per canister.

.For the next generation Storwize V5000 platforms IBM encouraging them to be called Gen3. The Gen3 encompasses 8 new MTM (Machine Type Model) based on 3 hardware models, V5010E, V5030E and V5100. The V5100 comes in two models, a hybrid (HDD and Flash) and the All Flash model V5100F. Of these 4 types, each is available with a 1 year or 3 year warranty.

The V5000E models are based on the Gen2 hardware, with various enhancements, including more memory options on the V5010E. The V5100 models are all new hardware and bring same NVMe Flash Core Modules (FCM) that are available on the V7000 and FlashSystem9100 products, completing Core Modules the transition of the Storwize family to all NVMe arrays. If you haven’t seen or heard about IBM’s FCM technology introduced last year to optimize NVMe FCM are a family of high-performance flash drives that utilizes the NVMe protocol, a PCIe Gen3 interface, and high-speed NAND memory to provide high throughput and IOPS and very low latency. FCM is available in 4.8 TB, 9.6 TB, and 19.2 TB capacities. Hardware-based data compression and self-encryption are built in.

The all flash (F) variants of the V5000 can also attach SAS expansions to extend capacity using SAS based Flash drives to allow expansion up to 1520 drives. The drives, however, are not interchangeable with the new FCM drives. The E variants allow attachment of SAS 2.5” and 3.5” HDD drives, with the V5010E expandable to 392 drives and the others up to 1520.

Inbuilt host attachments come in the form of 10GbE ports for iSCSI workloads, with optional 16Gbit FibreChannel (SCSI or FC-NVMe) as well as additional 10GbE or 25GbE iSCSI. The V5100 models can also use the iSER (an iSCSI translation layer for operation over RDMA transports, such as InfiniBand) protocol over the 25GbE ports for clustering capability, with plans to support NVMeF over Ethernet. In terms of cache memory, the V5000E products are expandable up to 64GB per controller (IO Group) and the V5100 can support up to 576GB per controller. Similarly, IBM issued as a statement of direction for all 25GbE port types across the entire Spectrum Virtualize family of products.

As Lloyd Dean, IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect noted, the new lineup for the V5000 is impressive; regarding the quantity of drives, and the storage available per model will “blow your mind”. How mind blowing will depend, of course, on your configuration and IBM’s pricing. As usual, IBM talks about affordable and comparative cost and storage efficiency but they usually never state a price. But they did once 3 years ago: List price then for the V5010 was $9,250 including hardware, software and a one-year warranty, according to a published report. Today IBM will likely steer you to cloud pricing, which may or may not be a bargain depending on how the deal is structured and priced. With the cloud, everything is in the details.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

IBM Rides Quantum Volume  to Quantum Advantage

March 19, 2019

Recently IBM announced achieving its’ highest quantum volume to date. Of course, nobody else knows what Quantum Volume is.  Quantum volume is both a measurement and a procedure developed, no surprise here, by IBM to determine how powerful a quantum computer is. Read the May 4 announcement here.

Quantum volume is not just about the number of qubits, although that is one part of it. It also includes both gate and measurement errors, device cross talk, as well as device connectivity and circuit compiler efficiency. According to IBM, the company has doubled the power of its quantum computers annually since 2017.

The upgraded processor will be available for use by developers, researchers, and programmers to explore quantum computing using a real quantum processor at no cost via the IBM Cloud. This offer has been out in various forms since May 2016 as IBM’s Q Experience.

Also announced was a new prototype of a commercial processor, which will be the core for the first IBM Q early-access commercial systems.  Dates have only been hinted at.

IBM’s recently unveiled IBM Q System One quantum computer, with a fourth-generation 20-qubit processor, which has resulted in a Quantum Volume of 16, roughly double that of the current IBM Q 20-qubit device, which have a Quantum Volume of 8.

The Q volume math goes something like this: a variety of factors determine Quantum Volume, including the number of qubits, connectivity, and coherence time, plus accounting for gate and measurement errors, device cross talk, and circuit software compiler efficiency.

In addition to producing the highest Quantum Volume to date, IBM Q System One’s performance reflects some of the lowest error rates IBM has ever measured, with an average 2-qubit gate error less than 2 percent, and its best gate achieving less than a 1 percent error rate. To build a fully-functional, large-scale, universal, fault-tolerant quantum computer, long coherence times and low error rates are required. Otherwise how could you ever be sure of the results?

Quantum Volume is a fundamental performance metric that measures progress in the pursuit of Quantum Advantage, the Quantum Holy Grail—the point at which quantum applications deliver a significant, practical benefit beyond what classical computers alone are capable. To achieve Quantum Advantage in the next decade, IBM believes that the industry will need to continue to double Quantum Volume every year.

Sounds like Moore’s Law all over again. IBM doesn’t deny the comparison. It writes: in 1965, Gordon Moore postulated that the number of components per integrated function would grow exponentially for classical computers. Jump to the new quantum era and IBM notes its Q system progress since 2017 presents a similar early growth pattern, supporting the premise that Quantum Volume will need to double every year and presenting a clear roadmap toward achieving Quantum Advantage.

IBM’s recently unveiled IBM Q System One quantum computer, with a fourth-generation 20-qubit processor, which has produced a Quantum Volume of 16, roughly double that of the current IBM Q 20-qubit IBM Q Network device, which has a Quantum Volume of 8.

Potential use cases, such as precisely simulating battery-cell chemistry for electric vehicles, speeding quadratic derivative models, and many others are already being investigated by IBM Q Network partners. To achieve Quantum Advantage in the 2020s, IBM believes the industry will need to continue doubling Quantum Volume every year.

In time AI should play a role expediting quantum computing.  For that, researchers will need to develop more effective AI that can identify patterns in data otherwise invisible to classical computers.

Until then how should most data centers proceed? IBM researchers suggest 3 initial steps:

  1. Develop quantum algorithms that demonstrate how quantum computers can improve AI classification accuracy.
  1. Improve feature mapping to a scale beyond the reach of the most powerful classical computers
  2. Classify data through the use of short depth circuits, allowing AI applications in the NISQ (noisy intermediate scale quantum) regime and a path forward to achieve quantum advantage for machine learning.

Sounds simple, right? Let DancingDinosaur know how you are progressing.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

IBM Joins with Harley-Davidson for LiveWire

March 1, 2019

I should have written this piece 40 years ago as a young man fresh out of grad school. Then I was dying for a 1200cc Harley Davidson motorcycle. My mother was dead set against it—she wouldn’t even allow me to play tackle football and has since been vindicated (You win on that, mom.). My father, too, was opposed and wouldn’t help pay for it. I had to settle for a puny little motor scooter that offered zero excitement.

In the decades since I graduated, Harley’s fortunes have plummeted as the HOG (Harley Owners Group) community aged out and few youngsters have picked up the slack. The 1200cc bike I once lusted after probably is now too heavy for me to handle. So, what is Harley to do? Redefine its classic American brand with an electric model, LiveWire.

Courtesy: Harley Davidson, IBM

With LiveWire, Harley expects to remake the motorcycle as a cloud-connected machine and promises to deliver new products for fresh motorcycle segments, broaden engagement with the brand, and strengthen the H-D dealer network. It also boldly proclaimed that Harley-Davidson will lead the electrification of motorcycling.

According to the company, Harley’s LiveWire will leverage H-D Connect, a service (available in select markets), built on thIBM AI, analytics, and IoTe IBM Cloud. This will enable it to deliver new mobility and concierge services today and leverage an expanding use of IBM AI, analytics, and IoT to enhance and evolve the rider’s experience. In order to capture this next generation of bikers, Harley is working with IBM to transform the everyday experience of riding through the latest technologies and features IBM can deliver via the cloud.

Would DancingDinosaur, an aging Harley enthusiast, plunk down the thousands it would take to buy one of these? Since I rarely use my smartphone to do anything more than check email and news, I am probably not a likely prospect for LiveWire.

Will LiveWire save Harley? Maybe; it depends on what the promised services will actually deliver. Already, I can access a wide variety of services through my car but, other than Waze, I rarely use any of those.

According to the joint IBM-Harley announcement, a fully cellular-connected electric motorcycle needed a partner that could deliver mobility solutions that would meet riders’ changing expectations, as well as enhance security. With IBM, Harley hopes to strike a balance between using data to create both intelligent and personal experiences while maintaining privacy and security, said Marc McAllister, Harley-Davidson VP Product Planning and Portfolio in the announcement.

So, based on this description, are you ready to jump to LiveWire? You probably need more details. So far, IBM and Harley have identified only three:

  1. Powering The Ride: LiveWire riders will be able to check bike vitals at any time and from any location. Information available includes features such as range, battery health, and charge level. Motorcycle status features will also support the needs of the electric bike, such as the location of charging stations. Also riders can see their motorcycle’s current map location.  Identifying charging stations could be useful.
  2. Powering Security: An alert will be sent to the owner’s phone if the motorcycle has been bumped, tampered, or moved. GPS-enabled stolen-vehicle assistance will provide peace of mind that the motorcycle’s location can be tracked. (Requires law enforcement assistance. Available in select markets).
  3. Powering Convenience: Reminders about upcoming motorcycle service requirements and other care notifications will be provided. In addition, riders will receive automated service reminders as well as safety or recall notifications.

“The next generation of Harley-Davidson riders will demand a more engaged and personalized customer experience,” said Venkatesh Iyer, Vice President, North America IoT and Connected Solutions, Global Business Services, IBM. Introducing enhanced capabilities, he continues, via the IBM Cloud will not only enable new services immediately, but will also provide a roadmap for the journey ahead. (Huh?)

As much as DancingDinosaur aches for Harley to come roaring back with a story that will win the hearts of the HOG users who haven’t already drifted away Harley will need more than the usual buzzwords, trivial apps, and cloud hype.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

Meet SUSE Enterprise Linux Server 12

February 25, 2019

A surprising amount of competition has emerged lately for Linux on the mainframe, but SUSE continues to be among the top of the heap.  With the newest release last fall, SUSE Linux Enterprise 12, should secure its position for some time to come.

SUSE touts SLE 12 as the latest version of its reliable, scalable and secure platform for efficiently deploying and managing highly available enterprise-class IT services in physical, virtual, or cloud environments. New products based on SLE 12 feature enhancements should allow for better system uptime, improved operational efficiency, and accelerated innovation. As the foundation for all SUSE data center operating systems and extensions, according to the company, SUSE Linux Enterprise meets the performance requirements of data centers with mixed IT environments while reducing the risk of technological obsolescence and vendor lock-in.

With SLE 12 the company also introduces an updated customer portal, SUSE Customer Center, to make it easier for customers to manage their subscriptions, access patches and updates, and communicate with SUSE customer support. It promises a new way to manage a SUSE account and subscriptions via one interface, anytime, anywhere.

Al Gillen, program vice president for servers and system software at IDC, said, “The industry is seeing growing movement of mission-critical workloads to Linux, with that trend expected to continue well into the future.” For Gillen, the modular design of SLE 12, as well as other mission-critical features like full system rollback and live kernel patching, helps address some of the key reservations customers express, and should help accelerate the adoption of Linux on z.

It’s about time. Linux has been available on the z for 20 years. Only with the introduction of IBM LinuxONE a couple of years ago has IBM gotten serious about Linux on z.  Around that time IBM also ported the Go programming language to LinuxOne. Go was developed by Google and is designed for building simple, reliable and efficient software, making it easier for developers to combine the software tools they know with the speed, security and scale offered by LinuxONE. Taking it even further, following Apple’s introduction of Swift as the new language for OS X and iOS application development. IBM began partnering with Apple to bring the power of Swift open source programming to the z. This was closely tied to Canonical’s Ubuntu port to the z.

And it didn’t stop there. IBM ported the Go programming language to LinuxOne too. Go was developed by Google and is designed for building simple, reliable and efficient software, making it easier for developers to combine the software tools they know with the speed, security and scale offered by LinuxONE. As expected IBM has contributed code to the Go community.

Then IBM brought Apple’s Swift programming to the party, first to the IBM Watson iOS SDK, which gives developers a Swift API to simplify integration with many of the Watson Developer Cloud services – all of which are available today, and can now be integrated with just a few lines of code. As soon as Apple introduced Swift as the new language for OS X and iOS application development. IBM began partnering with Apple to bring the power of Swift open source programming to the z. This was closely tied to Canonical’s Ubuntu port to the z, which has already been released.

With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for x86_64, IBM Power Systems, and IBM System SUSE ES 12 has boosted its versatility, able to deliver business-critical IT services in a variety of physical, virtual, and cloud environments. New features like full system rollback, live kernel patching, and software modules increase data center uptime, improve operational efficiency, and accelerate the adoption of open source innovation. ES 12 further builds on SUSE’s leadership with Linux Containers technology and adds the Docker framework, which is now included as an integral part of the operating system.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

IBM Enhances Storage for 2019

February 14, 2019

It has been a while since DancingDinosaur last looked closely at IBM’s storage efforts. The latest 4Q18 storage briefing, actually was held on Feb. 5, 2019 but followed by more storage announcements 2/11 and 2/12 For your sake, this blog will not delve into each of these many announcements. You can, however, find them at the previous link.

Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta–IBM RESEARCH

As IBM likes to say whenever it is trying to convey the value of data: “data is more valuable than oil.”  Maybe it is time to update this to say data is more valuable than fresh, clean water, which is quickly heading toward becoming the most precious commodity on earth.

IBM CEO Ginny Rometty, says it yet another way: “80% of the world’s data, whether it’s decades of underwriting, pricing, customer experience, risk in loans… That is all with our clients. You don’t want to share it. That is gold,” maybe more valuable even, say, the value of fresh water. But whatever metaphor you choose to use—gold, clean water, oil, something else you perceive as priceless, this represents to IBM the value of data. To preserve the value it represents this data must be economically stored, protected, made accessible, analyzed, and selectively shared. That’s where IBM’s storage comes in.

And IBM storage has been on a modest multi-year storage growth trend.  Since 2016, IBM reports shipping 700 new NVMe systems, 850 VeraStack systems, 3000 DS8880 systems, 5500 PB of capacity, attracted 6,800 new IBM Spectrum (virtualized) storage customers, and sold 3,000 Storwize All-flash system along with 12,000 all-flash arrays shipped.

The bulk of the 2/5 storage announcements fell into 4 areas:

  1. IBM storage for containers and cloud
  2. AI storage
  3. Modern data protection
  4. Cyber resiliency

Except for modern data protection, much of this may be new to Z and Power data centers. However, some of the new announcements will interest Z shops. In particular, 219-135 –Statement of direction: IBM intends to deliver Managed-from-Z, a new feature of IBM Cloud Private for Linux on IBM Z. This will enable organizations to run and manage IBM Cloud Private applications from IBM Linux on Z or LinuxONE platforms. The new capability furthers IBM’s commitment to deliver multi-cloud and multi-architecture cloud-native technologies on the platform of the customer’s choice. Watson, too, will now be available on more platforms through newly announced Watson Anywhere—a version of IBM’s cognitive platform that can run Watson on-premises, in IBM’s cloud, or any other cloud, be it private or public.

Another interesting addition to the IBM storage line, the FlashSystem 9100. IBM FlashSystem 9100, as IBM explains it, combines the performance of flash and Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) end-to-end with the reliability and innovation of IBM FlashCore technology and the rich features of IBM Spectrum Virtualize, — all packed into a 2U enterprise-class storage system. Providing intensive data driven multi-cloud storage capacity, FlashSystem 9100 is deeply integrated with the software defined (virtualized) capabilities of IBM Spectrum Storage, allowing organizations to easily add multi-cloud solutions that best support their business..

Finally, 219-029 –IBM Spectrum Protect V8.1.7 and IBM Spectrum Protect Plus V10.1.3 deliver new application support and optimization for long term data retention. Think of it this way: as the value of data increases, you will want to retain and protect it in more data in more ways for longer and longer. For this you will want the kind of flexible and cost-efficient storage available through Spectrum Protect.

In addition, at Think, IBM announced Watson Anywhere, a version of Watson that runs on-premises, in IBM’s cloud, or any other cloud, be it private or public.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

Meet IBM Q System One

February 1, 2019

A couple of weeks ago, IBM slipped in a new quantum machine at CES. The new machine, dubbed IBM Q System One, is designed for both scientific and commercial computing. IBM described it as the first integrated universal approximate quantum computing system.

Courtesy of IBM

Approximate refers to the short coherence time of the qubits, explains Michael Houston, manager, Analyst Relations. Or, to put it another way: how long the qubits remain stable enough to run reliable and repeatable calculations. IBM Q systems report an industry-best average of 100 microseconds. That’s not enough time for a round of golf, but probably long enough to start running some serious quantum analytics.

As described by IBM, the new machine family, the Q systems, are designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex or too exponential in scale for classical (conventional) systems to handle. Such Q Systems may use quantum computing to find new ways to model financial data or isolate key global risk factors to make better investments or find the optimal path across global systems for ultra-efficient logistics or optimizing fleet operations for improved deliveries.

The design of IBM Q System One includes a 9x9x9 cube case constructed of half-inch thick borosilicate glass to form a sealed, airtight enclosure that opens effortlessly using roto-translation, a motor-driven rotation around two displaced axes engineered to simplify the system’s maintenance and upgrade process while minimizing downtime. Overall, the entire system was intended to enable the most stable qubits, which allows for the machine to deliver the reliable commercial use.

A series of independent aluminum and steel frames not only unify, but also decouple the system’s cryostat, control electronics, and exterior casing, helping to avoid potential vibration interference that leads to phase jitter and qubit decoherence.

The object of all of this, Houston explains, is to deliver a sophisticated, modular, and compact design optimized for stability, reliability, and continuous commercial use. For the first time ever, IBM Q System One enables universal approximate superconducting quantum computers to operate beyond the confines of the research lab.

In effect, think of the Q System One as bringing the quantum machine to the data center, starting with Q System’s design that squeezes all the quantum computing electronics, controllers, and other components into a 9x9x9 foot cube made of half-inch thick glass to create a sealed, airtight enclosure that will allow the system to cool the qubits to low Kelvin temperatures and keep them cold enough and undisturbed from any interference for long enough to perform meaningful work. All the Q System One’s components and control mechanisms are intended to keep the qubits at 10 mK  (-442F) to operate

This machine, notes IBM, should look familiar to conventional computer data center managers. Maybe, if you think a 9x9x9, half-inch thick borosilicate glass cube is a regular feature of any data center you have worked in

In effect, IBM is applying the same approach to quantum computing that it has followed for decades with its conventional computers–providing everything you need to get it operating in your data center. Just plan to bring in some trained quantum technicians, specialists, and, don’t forget, a handful of people who can program such a machine.

Other than that, the IBM Q System One consists of a number of custom components that work together–remember they said integrated: Specifically, the new machine will include:

  • Quantum hardware designed to be stable and auto-calibrated to give repeatable and predictable high-quality qubits;
  • Cryogenic engineering that delivers a continuous cold and isolated quantum environment;
  • High precision electronics in compact form factors to tightly control large numbers of qubits;
  • Quantum firmware to manage the system health and enable system upgrades without downtime for users

Are you up for it? Maybe you’d prefer to try before you buy. The IBM Q Quantum Computation Center, opening later this year in Poughkeepsie, extends the IBM Q Network to commercial quantum computing programs,

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

Are Your Security Systems Reliable?

January 17, 2019

How confident are you in your security systems? Just a glance at reports of data losses should temper any confidence you may have. Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), as it is every year, should serve as a wakeup call.  Or as the report writers put it: identifying 53K+ incidents in only 12 months suggests an information security dystopia, an uneven playing field where the bad guys consistently win out. The 2018 report, in that regard, is not much different from previous years’ reports.

Syncsort, a leading mainframe ISV, released its own security survey results among 300 survey responders. It found 85 percent of respondents are either very or somewhat confident in their organization’s security program although 41 percent said their company had experienced a security breach and 20 percent more were unsure. I’d be more nervous about the 20% who weren’t sure than the 41 % who, at least, had identified a security breach. You can find Syncsort’s security announcement here.

Top security related challenges, courtesy Syncsort

 

To Syncsort, a particularly interesting challenge appeared to come from new data sources. Specifically, seven percent were familiar with newer but widely-adopted data storage options like Hadoop data lakes.

Cloud and compliance definitely are not new security challenges. Yet, they show up in the Syncsort survey:

  • Twenty-eight percent of respondents named adoption of cloud services as their top security-related challenge, followed by growing complexity of regulations (20%) and insufficient IT security staffing (19%).
  • The regulation most respondents had to adhere to was GDPR (37%), followed by HIPAA and SOX (32% each).

Fortunately, security (42%) and cloud computing (35%) are organizations’ top two IT priorities in the coming year. It probably is too much, however, to expect management will increase security staffing until the organization finds its security breach on the front page of a large daily newspaper like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. This is the corporate equivalent to shutting the proverbial gate after the horses (or data) have left.

So who are the bad guys you are up against. Verizon has an answer to this: Almost three-quarters (73%) of cyberattacks were perpetrated by outsiders. Members of organized criminal groups were behind half of all breaches, with nation-state or state-affiliated actors involved in 12%.

But don’t get complacent. Insider threats may be the hardest to defend against. Over a quarter (28%) of attacks involved insiders. The insider threat can be particularly difficult to guard against, as Verizon points out, since it can be difficult to spot the signs if someone is using their legitimate access to your data for nefarious purposes. Or to put it another way, the chances are you should be more nervous about a disgruntled employee than about a North Korean agent.

Similarly, audit security regularly. Most audit only annually but a few audit more frequently. More frequently leads to better security. As Syncsort found: Thirty-two percent of responding organizations only perform security audits annually, while 23 percent do so every three months and 19 percent every six months.

The areas you examine in audits also can help you improve security effectiveness. For example, Syncsort survey responders were most likely to examine application security (72%), backup/disaster recovery processes (70%), network security (69%), and antivirus programs and password policies (67% each).

Not surprisingly different organizations have different security priorities. For example, security (42%) and cloud computing (35%) are top two IT priorities for the majority of organization in the coming year.  

However, twenty-eight percent of respondents named adoption of cloud services as their top security-related challenge, followed by growing complexity of regulations (20%), and insufficient IT security staffing (19%).

Respondents also differed on which regulation they felt they had to meet first. The regulation most respondents reported having to meet: GDPR (37%), followed by HIPAA and SOX (32% each).

If you have had a chance to periodically review the various Verizon Data Breach Investigations Reports, you won’t be surprised to learn that organizations continue to experience data breaches.  Specifically, Syncsort found: forty-one percent of organizations have experienced data breaches, while 39 percent have not, However, 20 percent say they don’t know? Kinda scary.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at technologywriter.com.

 


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