Blockchain has the potential to vastly reduce the cost and complexity of getting things done—across industries, government agencies, and social institutions.
But what is blockchain to an IT professional?
Blockchain is a distributed network of data, containing “blocks” of information. A block can contain financial information, such as payments. It could could contain identification information. A salient attribute is that once a block has been committed to the blockchain, the block cannot be deleted or changed. If consensus has been turned on, where the blockchain is replicated to multiple members, then when one copy of the committed blockchain gets changed, it will not match the other members’ committed copies of the blockchain.
This permanence of information in its immutable state means that these blockchain records are the way that companies can show when information such as payments have been executed, and that the information is accurate and has not been edited. This is the promise of blockchain: accuracy and trust.
As an IT professional, you may want to run blockchains on your mainframe. Here are three reasons why:
Security: The platform is the only one with the highest commercial security classification available, and is able to keep ledgers separate by holding them in isolated partitions in memory. Additionally, with hardware encryption with built-in accelerators for blockchain hashing, signing and security and tamper-proof crypto keys in the firmware and crypto cards, the IBM z Systems platform is the most secure platform for blockchain transaction processing. Also, z Systems provides essentially an unlimited number of active signing sessions.
Speed: The hardware platform can speed up interactions with existing business data in CICS, IMS, TPF, DB2, VSAM or other z Systems processes. This enables the platform’s tremendous memory networking capabilities to accelerate access to the business data if it’s being used to do some part of your transaction in the blockchain. Our testing has shown up to 7x increase in speed when accessing business data compared to an x86 blockchain infrastructure.
Availability: The benefits that the mainframe brings to business are true for blockchain as well. The mainframe offers legendary security with its availability and performance. Do you have your cloud running on your mainframe? With the capability to support 8000 virtual machines with up to 10TB of memory and 141 dedicated processor cores to power through all the toughest workloads, the system’s vertical scalability makes sense for all mission critical application servers. With blockchain integrating with your mission-critical apps in the future, it makes sense that you would be running blockchain in the same place to take advantage of all the same benefits.
In the coming weeks and months, we at IBM in z Systems will be working to help you imagine the future for your businesses and help your IT teams understand how to support the business teams by enabling the blockchain fabric in your company’s mainframe environments. Today we are announcing a beta of a high security enterprise network running on IBM Blockchain. Interested IBM customers can sign-up to be part of the beta on the IBM Blockchain website.
We’re looking for interested customers who will work with us to develop the architectures that will take us both into a more secure future.
To learn more about blockchain and IBM z Systems, visit our z Systems blockchain page.
About the Authors:
Donna Dillenberger is a Distinguished Engineer in IBM Research.
Jerry Saulman is a Marketing Content Manager at IBM.