Lost on Z

Help! Lost on Z!

Is it a misconception that mainframe professionals find it hard to get help?  When we talk about non-mainframe technology, there seems to be a myriad of platforms with impressive worldwide community support, actively helping each other on a daily basis.  In other words, what you find there is, if you are struggling to find an answer to a problem, or simply trying to find some better ways do something, then you generally post a question online and seek feedback from the community. Do we mainframe professionals lack such an ecosystem? Is it because of a lack of enthusiasm from experts to chime in on discussions to help out? Is it because of a lack of a solid single social media platform to discuss our challenges? Or is because there are too many platforms, and that we all are stretched too thin on each one, and thereby lack strength in numbers to have meaningful discussion?

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Demystifying Cloud for Mainframe Managers

The IBM 360 mainframe made its debut in April 1964. With the unprecedented ability to perform 229,000 calculations per second, it became the enterprise platform for transaction-heavy, critical applications. With the emergence in the mid-1980s of mid-range systems (such as SUN’s RISC processor) as well as PCs networked with servers, many thought the mainframe would go the way of the dinosaur. However, in the early 1990s IBM introduced the System/390 family with a groundbreaking computing capacity of 1,000 MIPS (million instructions per second). Since then mainframe computing capacity has increased by more than 30% year-over-year.

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authorization

Multi-Factor Authentication Has Arrived – The Mainframes Are Ready

Retinal scans. Face recognition. Fingerprint scanners. Spoken phrases. Randomized pins. Those cool full-body laser scanners from the movies. Science fiction has correctly predicted many aspects of how we live in the digital age, including the rise of security practices involving more than one sort of security test or “factor,” called Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). And while those full-body scanners are still a few years away (and honestly more cool than they are efficient) even our mobile phones now integrate fingerprint scanners and require more than one means of logging in. As criminals get more creative, security must compensate, and soon everything from online games to mobile banking will depend on MFA to ensure even a baseline level of protection.

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Disconnect

The Great Disconnect

Do CICS programmers / JavaScript programmers know what it is they’re working on?  Sure they know how their programs work and how they interface with other modules, and so on, but do they know exactly where in the business they are used, and do they know how important they are to the business?  And do business managers properly relay the critical nature of what they ask for to everyone down the line?

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Q: Meltdown, Spectre (and new variants) – how best to cope?

A: Become a Grandmaster at Whack-a-mole!

“…used with reference to a situation in which attempts to solve a problem are piecemeal or superficial, resulting only in temporary or minor improvement…”

Much (very much!) has been written regarding the security threats posed by the discovery of system processors being exposed to the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities.  And as if these vulnerabilities weren’t already serious enough a quick Google search yields headlines like: “Meltdown-Spectre flaws: We’ve found new attack variants, say researchers – Intel and AMD may need to revisit their microcode fixes for Meltdown and Spectre.”

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RegTech to the rescue…

(How to best defend yourself from the tidal wave of new Regulations.)

Regulatory Alphabet Soup

The veritable tidal wave of recent regulations – most notably those emanating from Europe and the EU – are taking effect almost immediately. This will require urgent action – and of the ‘across the board’ type. Consider the following three regulations:

  • General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
  • Markets in Financial Instruments Directive – the second missive (MiFID II)
  • Payment Services Directive – also the second version (PSD2)
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Advanced Analytics

Embracing the Challenges of Gaining Value from Analytics

Data volume and higher transaction velocities associated with modern applications are driving change in organizations across all industries. This has occurred for many reasons. Customer and end-user expectations for interacting with computerized systems have changed—and technology changes to accommodate these requirements. Furthermore, larger and larger amounts of data are generated and made available both internally and externally to businesses. Therefore, the desire and capability to store large amounts of data continues to expand.

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Mainframe News Out There

Mainframe news out there – March

Once a month we like to pick articles from other blogs that we feel are interesting enough to talk about on the Planet Mainframe blog. Here are this week’s picks:

9 Challenges Slowing Blockchain Deployment

Very interesting article by Cynthia Harvey in a recent edition of the InformationWeek in Review online publication: “9 Challenges Slowing Blockchain Deployment”.
One of those annoying 10-click articles, but there are some imposing points to consider, particularly:

Throughput and Scale, the throughput on an equity market is probably 3,000 to 4,000 tps (and mainframe batch clearance dwarfs this), but blockchain technology is limited to a fraction of that…

Costs, Deloitte says that just validating and sharing Bitcoin transactions exceed $600 million per year. Think about that. How about all of the transactions performed by any large Wall St. bank. Mainframe computing is starting to look pretty cheap in comparison…

See more here: Information Week article.

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personal data

GDPR – is your firm going to be compliant?

A summary of what you (and your Third-Parties) need to do.

On April 27, 2016, the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission approved a new regulatory framework for personal data that will take effect on May 25, 2018.

Intended to give European Union residents and citizens greater control, the General Data Protection Regulation imposes strict rules on the nature, security, application and accessibility of personally identifiable information (PII); under GDPR, the EU’s data protection obligations extend to all foreign companies that collect, store and/or process EU citizen/resident data. It includes:

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Security Information and Event Management

Mainframes don’t need SIEMs, do they?

Mainframes come with plenty of security – why should they use a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), when it doesn’t even run on the mainframe? This is pretty much the opening argument from most mainframers when talking about SIEMs, and, at first glance, it seems pretty reasonable, but is it?

SIEM software products and services combine Security Information Management (SIM) and Security Event Management (SEM). They provide real-time analysis of security alerts generated by applications and network hardware. SIEM products that you may have come across include: ArcSight and IBM QRadar, Splunk, LogRhythm, McAfee Enterprise Security Manager, Dell RSA Security Analytics, or Dell SecureWorks.

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