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As the IBM Z platform continues to transform to support the needs of today’s hybrid cloud environments, it is focused on being robust, resilient, and securable. Hybrid cloud combines and unifies public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises infrastructure to create a single, flexible, cost-optimal IT infrastructure. And as IBM Z drives its hybrid cloud model forward, the platform has delivered significant enhancements in encryption and performance. These enhancements have created opportunities to leverage improvements to deliver more value to clients as they continue to look for ways to improve their mainframe environment. This blog focuses on IBM’s recent enhancements in resource optimization and security and how Precisely (formerly Syncsort) is leveraging these technological improvements.
Security, trust, compliance, and regulatory requirements
Data breaches can be devastating to your business operationally and financially, so IBM’s focus on encryption is critical. Regulatory requirements such as GDPR and CCPA, are designed to protect data and safeguard privacy. Loss of data or compromised information can come with high penalties, and new innovations to assist with this data protection have been implemented to fortify security.
IBM Z offers highly secure ways to help deal with compliance and regulatory requirements. For example, multi-factor authentication, centralized key management, in-flight data protection, and pervasive encryption allow you to implement security to counter cyberattacks. And, the IBM Z Pervasive Encryption solution offers a method to enable extensive encryption of data in-flight and at-rest to meet these protection standards. This solution is enabled by administrative policy controls and is designed to be application transparent, without requiring application changes. Data set encryption provides data security at the data set level using DFSMS access methods. This system-wide solution is more cost effective than traditional software encryption solutions, and DFSMS access methods provide data set encryption for sequential, basic, large, and extended formatted datasets.
The challenge to implementing data encryption is it consumes processor cycles, so it doesn’t come without penalty. Although mainframe customers love the pervasive encryption approach, no one likes the additional cost. For Precisely Syncsort MFX users, if the input or output data set is encrypted, BSAM must be used instead of the high-performant, low-level IO access methods, and there is an extra cost from that perspective.
Last year, IBM’s DFSMS team developed an EXCP encryption API solution called IGGENC to help vendors, like Precisely, to use low-level IO for encrypted data sets and improve encryption performance. DFSMS splits the encryption/decryption processing from the IO processing, so vendors can continue to use low-level IO methods to read and write data sets and use IGGENC to encrypt and decrypt data on zIIP processors, which will significantly reduce the CPU cost and elapsed time.
My team has seen great performance improvement from benchmark testing. For Syncsort MFX, clients have seen up to 45% CPU and 40% elapsed savings and for ZPSaver, up to 80% CPU and 40% elapsed time savings. These performance improvements will enable more IBM Z customers to take advantage of the benefits of encryption to deliver a more secure, reliable computing environment.
Total cost of ownership is one of the most important factors for IBM Z customers as they are making improvements to their environment. As new technology emerges to increase the value of IBM Z, clients can reduce the cost of operating their platforms by evaluating resource optimization techniques. This can allow organizations to make strategic applications and data more easily consumable.
Syncsort MFX offers high-performance sort, copy, join, and other sort optimization features designed to work with the z/OS operating system. And, it can further optimize these processes by offloading workloads from primary CPUs to IBM z Integrated Information Processors (zIIPs). This can help significantly lower CPU utilization, resulting in lower software licensing costs and shifting workload and resources to meet SLAs and batch window requirements.
New Sort Accelerator
The IBM Integrated Accelerator for Z Sort is a new coprocessor designed for the z15 providing a new SORTL instruction. Use of the SORTL instruction allows DFSORT to employ a hardware accelerated approach to sorting. Z Sort can then help reduce CPU usage and improve elapsed time for eligible workloads by speeding up sorting, shortening batch windows, and improving select database functions.
The challenge to taking advantage of this new hardware is that customers use our utilities, like Syncsort MFX and its zIIP-offload capabilities, to optimize sorting workload and achieve performance gains. My team worked closely with IBM z/OS Poughkeepsie and hardware architects for the sort accelerator. Currently, Precisely is developing new algorithms in Syncsort MFX to take advantage of the coprocessor and we will be releasing these improvements later this year. With the new algorithm, our customers can see dramatic improvements to batch sort job performance. And, in our lab, we are seeing CPU and elapsed time improvements of up to 35% depending on the key length, record length, file size, and other factors.
In addition, Precisely collaborated with the Db2 Utilities team to develop Z Sort enablement in Db2 Sort — used in the LOAD, REBUILD INDEX, and REORG utilities. The support was delivered at the end of 2020, and Db2 Sort customers can see both CPU and elapsed time benefits of up to 10% comparing with Db2 Sort without the Z SORT solution.
Precisely, which was formed when Syncsort and Pitney Bowes Software & Data combined to bring together decades of experience and expertise in handling, processing and transforming data, continues to work closely with IBM to coordinate efforts to provide innovative solutions to common Z challenges.
Get more information on Precisely and its mainframe products: Syncsort MFX or IBM Mainframe Solutions.
Bill Hammond has over 25 years of product marketing and product management experience with enterprise software products. He has been responsible for the messaging, positioning, and launching of products in a broad range of disciplines from business intelligence to eDiscovery to storage management. At Precisely, Bill covers the IBM infrastructure products, which includes the Assure product family for IBM i and the Syncsort family of IBM mainframe solutions.