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Technical Insight: Gen-Z – Securing the Future of Data

Published January 6th, 2020. In this free 8-page Technical Insight report, Mitch Lewis provides an insightful overview on Gen-Z interconnect. Includes overview, potential operational gains and Evaluator Group's assessment. Download the free report now!

Executive Summary

Today’s data landscape is constantly expanding. With unprecedented volumes of data being generated every day and rapidly growing data topologies – from IoT and edge devices, to public, hybrid, and multi-clouds – data is spread over vast geographic locations and an increasing number of physical devices. Along with growing data landscapes, the number of cyber-attacks is rising at an alarming rate, increasing the need to ensure rigid data security at every component within a system. Despite this need, many IT organizations often have reservations about implementing proper security practices due to cost, complexity, or inconvenience. The reality, however, is that the cost of implementing proper security practices is often far less than the cost incurred by suffering a data security incident.

The Gen-Z interconnect was created to provide memory-semantic data access across direct attached, switched, and fabric environments. Gen-Z was developed with a focus on accommodating continuous performance increases through the increased adoption of next generation devices such as persistent memory, as well as leveraging DRAM through composable memory. Gen-Z’s memory semantic technology enables a variety of flexible data solutions to overcome many of the challenges faced in the modern data center. Gen-Z facilitates expanded use of memory resources including disaggregation and pooling of shared memory to create flexible solutions and expanded memory access. Using this technology relieves performance and configuration issues caused by inflexible or limited resource allocation.

These developments have clear benefits to many organizations, however they also introduce the potential for new security threats.  Disaggregation of memory resources provides flexibility in configurations and access, but it can also provide flexibility for attackers to maliciously access or insert data if the environment is not properly secured. Persistent memory presents its own security risks by providing the potential for malware to exist persistently within executable memory. In increasingly complex and interconnected data environments, every component is a vector for attack, and a single compromised component can be disastrous for the entire system. While Gen-Z was developed with a focus on performance and flexibility, it was also developed with the proper functionality to achieve those goals securely at every level including the fabric, the data, and all attached devices.

Standard technologies that are widely used today such as Ethernet, InfiniBand, and Fibre Channel, have not placed their focus on security. Gen-Z, on the other hand, is focused on securing data environments at every component to prevent a malicious attack on a single target, as well as the overarching system. The Gen-Z interconnect was created with a number of security features that are either not addressed by current technologies, or were inefficiently added as an afterthought. This report will discuss these aspects of the Gen-Z technology and how they can secure data environments at every component.

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