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2019 in review with a look forward to 2020

By Trevor Eddolls posted Thu January 09, 2020 03:11 AM


2020Let’s take a look at what happened last year and have a think about what might happen this year.


The big IBM announcement in 2019 was its new z15 mainframe, which culminates four years of development with over 3,000 IBM Z patents issued or in process and represents a collaboration with input from over 100 companies. Building on the z14’s pervasive encryption, IBM introduced Data Privacy Passports technology that can be used to gain control over how data is stored and shared. This gives users the ability to protect and provision data and revoke access to that data at any time. In addition, it not only works in the z15 environment, but also across an enterprise’s hybrid multi-cloud environment. This helps enterprises to secure their data wherever it travels.


Also new with the z15 is IBM Z Instant Recovery, which uses z15 system recovery technologies, to limit the cost and impact of planned and unplanned downtime by accelerating the recovery of mission-critical applications by using full system capacity for a period of time. It enables general-purpose processors to run at full-capacity speed, and allows general-purpose workloads to run on zIIP processors. This boost period accelerates the entire recovery process in the partition(s) being boosted.


Security is an on-going and growing issue for anyone with a computer, and enterprises especially. Back in the summer, the annual Evil Internet Minute report from RiskIQ, suggested that cyber-criminals cost the global economy $2.9 million every minute in 2018, for a total of $1.5 trillion. The report concluded this after analysing proprietary research and data derived from the volume of malicious activity on the Internet. Major companies are paying $25 per Internet minute because of security breaches, while hacks on cryptocurrency exchanges cost $1,930. Criminals are leveraging multiple tactics, from ‘malvertising’ to phishing and supply chain attacks. The loss from phishing attacks alone is $17,700 per minute. Global ransomware events in 2019 were projected to total $22,184 by the minute. Cyber-criminals have also increased their targets on e-commerce with Magecart hacks, which grew by 20% over the last year. The study found 0.21 Magecart attacks were detected every minute. It also found that in each Internet minute: 8,100 identifier records are compromised, seven malicious redirectors occur, and 0.32 apps are blacklisted. Plus, there are 2.4 phish traversing the Internet per minute.

IBM’s “Cost of a Data Breach Report”, in 2019, highlighted the financial impact that organizations can feel for years after an incident. The actual cost of a breach has risen from $3.86m to $3.92m over the past year, and by over 12% over the past five years. According to IBM, in the USA, the cost of a breach is $8.19m. For companies with fewer than 500 employees, losses averaged out at over $2.5m, a potentially fatal sum. Mega breaches of over one million records cost $42m, while those of 50 million records are estimated to cost companies $388m. IBM also found that on average 67% of data breach costs were realized within the first year after a breach, but over a fifth (22%) accrued in the second year and another 11% accrued more than two years after the initial incident. Organizations in highly-regulated environments (like healthcare and financial services) were more likely to see higher costs in the second and third years, apparently. Malicious breaches accounted for the majority (51%) of cases, up 21% over the past six years, and cost firms more – on average $4.45m per breach. Accidental breaches, 49% of all incidents, cost slightly less than the global breach average. Human error cost $3.5m, and system glitches cost $3.24m. For the ninth year in a row, healthcare organizations suffered the highest cost of a breach – nearly $6.5m on average. IBM suggested that extensively tested incident response plans can minimize the financial impact of a breach, saving on average $1.23m. Other factors affecting the cost of a breach include how many records were lost, whether the breach came from a third party, and whether the victim organization had in place security automation tech and/or used encryption extensively.

IBM’s most significant acquisition this year concluded on 9 July when it acquired Red Hat, which is best known for its version of Linux. IBM acquired all the issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for $190.00 per share in cash, representing a total equity value of around $34 billion. At the time, IBM said that the companies together will accelerate innovation by offering a next-generation hybrid multi-cloud platform. Based on open source technologies, such as Linux and Kubernetes, the platform will allow businesses to securely deploy, run, and manage data and applications on-premises and on private and multiple public clouds.

The year ended with the news that Compuware intends to acquire Innovation Data Processing. This, perhaps, is another example of larger companies looking round for mid-range companies to strengthen their product range – like Syncsort’s acquisition of Pitney Bowes’ software and data business.

As well as Data Privacy Passports, introduced with the z15 mainframe, some other acronyms we’re getting used to this year are zCX, WMLz, and Db2ZAI. zCX stands for z/OS Container Extensions (zCX), which let you run Linux capabilities in a container on z/OS. WMLz stands for IBM Watson Machine Learning for z/OS. It’s designed to simplify the production implementation of AI models. Users can develop models where they want. And, users can readily deploy them within their transaction applications for real-time insights. Db2ZAI stands for IBM Db2 AI for z/OS, which can optimize a Db2 for z/OS engine to determine the best-performing query access paths, based on the workload characteristics. You may also have come across fog computing or fog networking or fogging, which is an architecture that uses edge devices to carry out a substantial amount of computation, storage, and communication locally and then routes it over the Internet backbone.

Looking forward to 2020, it’s interesting to see what Gartner highlights as the top 10 strategic technology trends for the year. They are:

  • Hyperautomation – the combination of multiple machine learning (ML), packaged software, and automation tools to deliver work.
  • Multiexperience – a change in the user experience in how they perceive the digital world and how they interact with it. It’s suggested that the burden of translating intent will move from the user to the computer.
  • Democratization of expertise – providing people with access to technical expertise (eg machine learning, application development) or business domain expertise (eg sales process, economic analysis) through a radically simplified experience and without requiring extensive and costly training.
  • Human augmentation – using technology to deliver cognitive and physical improvements as an integral part of the human experience.
  • Transparency and traceability – a range of attitudes, actions, and supporting technologies and practices designed to address regulatory requirements, preserve an ethical approach to use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies, and repair the growing lack of trust in companies.
  • The empowered edge – empowering edge computing with more sophisticated and specialized compute resources and more data storage.
  • Distributed cloud – the distribution of public cloud services to different locations while the originating public cloud provider assumes responsibility for the operation, governance, updates to, and evolution of the services.
  • Autonomous things – physical devices that use AI to automate functions previously performed by humans, eg robots, drones, autonomous vehicles/ships and appliances.
  • Practical blockchain – a maturing blockchain functionality and growth in use.
  • AI security – artificial intelligence and machine learning can augment human decision making and create great opportunities to enable hyperautomation and leverage autonomous things to deliver business transformation, it creates significant new challenges for security in terms of protecting AI-powered systems, leveraging AI to enhance security defence, and anticipating nefarious use of AI by attackers.


It’s fascinating to see how many of those will use a mainframe in order to work effectively.


So, it looks like the mainframe industry is an exciting place to work. And with that in mind, I can confidently predict that 2020 will be an interesting year, and that the mainframe will continue to offer outstanding performance and reliability, and be at the heart of the world’s business-critical applications.