George Clooney, healthcare, security & mainframes

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The recent launch of IBM’s z14 demonstrates to me just how important mainframes really are in the world of corporate computing. After all, when CNBC, the Wall Street Journal and even Wired label a new computer a game-changer, you know this latest mainframe must be a game changer. While most of the attention has been on the z14’s potential to transform security for banks, there is another major industry that can benefit from the unprecedented encryption that IBM’s new creation can deliver: healthcare.

Like the financial sector, the medical field depends on privacy at every level, and data breaches can have far-reaching consequences. From major hacks to ransomware attacks to unauthorized access to sensitive files, security failures can have significant effects on regulatory compliance, operations, and the bottom line. As the Washington Post wrote about the May hack of the UK National Health Service computers, “patients were told to stay home; doctors and nurses were unable to access email or medical records and had to take notes by hand. The hackers demanded a ransom, to be paid in bitcoin.”

Not all data compromises come from third parties. In 2007, more than 25 employees of a New Jersey medical center were suspended for improperly accessing the medical files of actor George Clooney after he was hospitalized following a motorcycle accident, and a year later a hospital fired 13 employees for reading Britney Spears’ private files.

This is where z14 can make the difference between partial and complete coverage. To achieve compliance mandates both now and in the future, many companies need to enable comprehensive encryption of data both at rest, and in flight. This type of encryption requires significant compute power that in the past, has proven to significantly affect existing production workload performance. The z14’s hardware, firmware, operating system, along with middleware and tooling infrastructure will work together to provide encryption of data by policy, without the need for customers to make application changes.

The z14 provides many new features that make this possible: New Crypto Express cards to provide compute power for encryption/decryption, significant cache and I/O improvements to speed transaction rates, and the ability to encrypt data shared between systems in the coupling facility make the z14 the most secure platform IBM has released to date. This is key for many mainframe customers in the insurance AND banking industry. They now have the ability to enact pervasive encryption without any change in applications and the z14 provides the infrastructure and performance improvements to do this without affecting the performance of their existing applications and workload.

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Tim Willging

Database Architect and Strategist Tim Willging joined the Rocket Software team in 2005 and was named a distinguished engineer in 2015. With over 25 years developing enterprise software tools, Tim has architected and authored several database products focusing on backup and recovery, cloning, administration, monitoring and change management. He has recently been focusing on solutions for advanced analytics on z/OS. He is currently based in Chicago, and is an alumnus of Northern Illinois University with an emphasis in theoretical computing.

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