Day 3: IBM z16 in the Hybrid Cloud

This is the third and final day “briefing report “on IBM’s recently announced z16 system.

  1. The Day 1 (found here) briefing report focused on the new system capabilities (especially embedded Artificial Intelligence [AI], and the new IBM Telum processor). It also described the concept of “quantum-safe” computing (marking the arrival of post-quantum cybersecurity measures in the IBM Z product line).
  2. The Day 2 (found here) briefing report focused on exploiting the z16 AI facilities to create more “agile” systems (in this case, systems with AI-infused applications and management tools). Resiliency improvements, and new, automated compliance capabilities were also discussed.
  3. This Day 3 discussion largely focuses on explaining how IBM Z (including the new z16) fits in the world of hybrid clouds.

Why Hybrid Cloud – The Central Messages

IBM’s overall hybrid cloud strategy stresses that:

  1. Applications need to be modernized to accelerate time to market, to drive new revenue streams, and to improve customer service.
  2. To modernize applications, enterprises want a more open approach to systems connectivity and operations – hybrid clouds deliver this kind of environment.
  3. To build applications most efficiently for this environment, a common set of open tools, utilities, and methodologies should be used to allow applications to be easily deployed across multiple, disparate platforms. This type of “DevOps environment” enables enterprises to maximize their investments in application development and modernization by using common tools that allow applications to be “written-once, deployed-anywhere.”  Those applications, however, should be deployed on systems best suited to process them.

The answer to “why hybrid cloud?”, therefore, is: hybrid clouds provide an avenue for efficient application modernization; they provide a unified infrastructure and management environment across multiple system types; and they allow a common DevOps environment – which allows enterprises to maximize developer productivity while reducing development costs (because specialized developers are not required to build applications for specific environments).

How Do IBM Z Systems Fit into Open, Hybrid Cloud Environments?

Hybrid cloud architecture allows for the creation of a common, cross-platform communications infrastructure.  A common DevOps environment can be used within this environment to build write-once, run-anywhere” applications.  In this manner, hybrid clouds with common development tools can be used to support application modernization initiatives.

Systems, on the other hand, are not all the same – sometimes big differences can be found in performance; other times big differences can be found in varying quality of service (QoS – such as security, and resilience).  Combining the unique differentiators of systems with a common cloud infrastructure can create clouds with different “personalities.”

Together, IBM Z and the IBM Cloud combine to offer advanced data protection; improved security (including quantum-safe security); automated compliance; and confidential computing extensions.  Together, IBM Z and the IBM Cloud offer the most securable/resilient hybrid cloud combination in the industry.

How IBM Z and the IBM Cloud Work Together

Start with the hardware:

  • At its foundational base, IBM’s Z microprocessors has a major advantage in “stack” processing as compared with several other microprocessors on the market. The new IBM Telum processor has been designed to process batch stacks and transactions extremely efficiently just as efficiently as its predecessor Z chips.  Now add built-on AI acceleration to IBM Telum.  With built-on AI acceleration logic, the new processor can conterminously process transaction processing and analytics workloads in the same cycle (in real-time).  What this means is that workloads that can benefit from real-time transaction processing/analytics processing should be deployed on an IBM z16 – with results accessible to other systems and applications through a hybrid cloud environment.

Now, combine IBM Cloud hybrid cloud infrastructure with IBM Z high availability/redundancy extensions:

  • IBM Z is known industry-wide for its high meantime-between-failures (MTBF) – the system itself offers several advanced high availability/redundancy features (as described in the briefing report (found here). Now combine IBM Z’s system level availability/redundancy features with additional IBM Cloud availability/redundancy features (such as the IBM Cloud three tiers of “regions” – including the IBM Cloud multi-zone region (MZR) environment), and the result is strong system-level availability/redundancy enhanced with advanced workload balancing in the cloud.

Now, observe how IBM Z and the IBM Cloud work together from a security perspective:

  • At the cloud level, the IBM Cloud can take advantage of several security and compliance frameworks that allow for the deployment of standardized clouds such as a Financial Services (FS) Cloud; or FedRAMP compliant clouds These frameworks can take advantage of IBM security at the chip-level on IBM Z, as well as several crypto-cards that run in a Z environment.

Finally, consider the various IBM Cloud services that leverage IBM Z technologies under the covers that further improve security; that simplify the deployment and management of Linux-based virtual servers; and that enhance development and testing environments:

  • To further enhance the IBM Cloud offering using underlying IBM Z technologies, IBM offers two ZaaS (Z-as-a-Service) services:  1) Hyper Protect Services; and, 2) Native IBM z Services.
    • Hyper Protect Crypto Services are key management/cloud hardware security services. These services are also used to provide data and digital asset security, compliance support – and offer a unified key orchestrator (to manage keys in a hybrid multi-cloud environment).
    • Native IBM z Services include deployment and management services for LinuxONE Virtual Servers, and for LinuxONE Baremetal deployment. And, to support z/OS Development/Test environments, IBM offers Wazi aaS native on IBM Z. (see this Clabby Analytics reports for more details on IBM’s Wazi implementation.)

The combination of the IBM Cloud with IBM Z results in a hybrid cloud environment with rich high availability/resiliency features; with enriched security functionality; that provides access to various services that simplify the deployment and management of Linux-based virtual servers, as well as simplify development and testing environments:

Summary Observations

IBM’s approach to building a hybrid cloud environment emphasizes building an environment (cooperative systems, integrated tools) that allow enterprises to integrate applications and data that resides on IBM Z with other clouds (public and private), and with disparate systems operating within that hybrid cloud environment.  IBM also provides common DevOps tools can be used to streamline the building and deployment of modernized applications that can be “written-once, deployed-anywhere” across-cloud environments.

The combination of IBM Z and the IBM Cloud enriches a hybrid cloud environment with AI facilities, security extensions, confidential computing features, resiliency extensions, and with various deployment, design and testing services — features NOT AVAILABLE in other domains (such as AWS, Azure, etc.).  Enterprises with applications that can benefit from on-board AI; that require greater availability and resiliency; that can benefit from various security extensions; and that can benefit from advanced deployment services and an improved development/testing environment should consider deploying those applications on the new IBMz16 servers deployed within an IBM Cloud.