IBM Unveils Mainframe OS Upgrade

The improvements include better PKI services for managing digital certificates directly through the mainframe, thereby eliminating the need for third-party hosting of those services.



IBM on Thursday unveiled the latest version of its mainframe operating system, which contains added security features for online transactions.

The z/OS is used in IBM mainframes run by a large number of financial services companies, large retailers, and other enterprises that conduct thousands of transactions requiring identity validation and fast system-to-system communications.

Enhancements in the upgrade include improved network security management tools that make it easier to set policies across multiple instances of the operating system. The better tools enable administrators to define one centralized policy to enforce network encryption rules and intrusion detection. The policies also can be applied to distributed systems communicating with the mainframe.

The upgrade also includes better public key infrastructure services for managing digital certificates directly through the mainframe, thereby eliminating the need for third-party hosting of those services. Digital certificates are used to authenticate buyers and sellers conducting business transactions online. The z/OS's PKI could be used for such tasks as securing a wireless network infrastructure or the end nodes of a virtual private network that might be hosting point of sale or ATM communications traffic.

IBM also has added in z/OS support for the security standard PKCS #11, which specifies an application-programming interface for devices that hold cryptographic information and perform cryptographic functions. Other enhancements include more robust scalability and availability for clustered environments, and simplified management for network diagnosis.

In addition, IBM said it offers software to add functionality to the mainframe's security system. The Tivoli zSecure Manager for RACF z/VM provides automation of security administration and audit processes in the virtual mainframe environment.

IBM has said its mainframe business is going strong. The company's hardware mainframe revenue grew 12% in the first quarter of this year compared with the previous quarter, and 25% year-over-year. The strong growth is partly due to increased mainframe deployments overseas.

In other OS news from IBM, the company on Thursday said it had signed an agreement to offer Sun Microsystem's Solaris 10 operating system as a supported option on Intel-based System x and BladeCenter servers.

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