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IBM Cloud services to secure mainframes out to the edge

Big Blue will introduce IBM Cloud services that use blockchain, containers and its z14 mainframes to deliver improved security across cloud and on-premises environments.

IBM is diving deep into its technology pool to piece together its next generation of security products.

The company is set to reveal plans to provide security from IBM Cloud -- out to the edge of the network -- that uses blockchain and container technologies in tandem with the company's z Series mainframes.

This combination of technologies will deliver a new family of IBM Cloud services for security to better protect both data and applications.

IBM Cloud Services on the way

The enhanced IBM Cloud Services, available through a subscription, work with both legacy applications such as DB2, as well as newly developed web-based applications. Both types of applications can fully exploit the combination of IBM's blockchain and container technologies, allowing them to securely exchange data between on-premises and cloud environments.

"Legacy apps can run as they normally do, but now they can run alongside web-based apps and then run them all with this new-generation security scheme," said a consultant who's familiar with IBM's plans. "This really is about creating what they will call a continuously secure cloud environment that will go from mainframes down to mobile devices, like the iPad."

Set to debut at the upcoming IBM Think conference, IBM Cloud Internet Services are a collection of network services accessible through IBM Cloud that are designed to protect and secure websites, applications and APIs against denial of-service attacks, according to a blog on IBM's website.

'Blockchain is the underpinning'

Along with the new IBM Cloud services, the company will also demonstrate what it claims is the first container service that can protect data within those containers down to the microchip level. The IBM Cloud Container Service creates a chain of security "rooted in hardware" that developers and corporate users deploy.

IBM's container technology protects the data as it is shipped across multiple clouds and on-premises environments, working hand-in-glove with blockchain that oversees key security and management and secures runtime containers that hold both data and code, sources said.

IBM had blockchain very much under the covers with the z14.

"Blockchain is the underpinning for a lot of this strategy," one source said. "What really surprised me about this was IBM had blockchain very much under the covers with the z14 [mainframe introduced in July 2017], but they never mentioned that capability was in that machine until now."

The goal of the new IBM Cloud services is to help larger corporate IT shops achieve continuous security for applications that run on IBM Cloud, whether they are directly on the cloud or were migrated to the cloud from existing systems, according to the blog.

Another IBM Cloud services addition is a product called IBM Cloud Security Advisor, a dashboard for developers and IT operational teams to review their application's security. This product works with Big Blue's Cloud Container Service's Vulnerability Advisor to let corporate developers know more precisely if their applications face an immediate risk.

Separately, IBM and Danish shipping giant Maersk, which pledged to form a new venture this past January to promote blockchain technology, will reveal more specifically what products and strategies the yet-to-be-named company will pursue. The company, based in New York, is owned 51% by Maersk and 49% by IBM.

According to other sources briefed by the company, IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty will detail the significance of the deal beyond the shipping industry, as an example of a new business model IBM will pursue.

"The Maersk deal will be her [Rometty's] way of pointing out how IBM will add value to various vertical industries with things like blockchain, which will be done through joint partnerships," one source said. "It makes sense because IBM can then tailor technologies like blockchain to better meet the specific automation and security needs of a given vertical [market]."

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