IBM moves forward on autonomic computing initiative

IBM is following through with its promise to deliver products that can take care of themselves. The company announced an initiative that includes a series of products that incorporate autonomic, or self-healing, technology.

IBM today announced the next phase in its initiative to make computers more self-managing.

The initiative would include a series of products and offerings coordinated by its recently formed autonomic computing unit. Led by Alan Ganek, former vice president of strategy for IBM Research, the group will integrate related activities throughout the company in order to help customers build more automated IT infrastructures that would reduce costs, improve uptime and make the most efficient use of scarce support skills -- through a grouping of products that feature autonomic technology.

Autonomic computing is a concept in which systems are designed to be more self-managing and self-correcting, reducing the amount of intervention required.

In an autonomic environment, the total IT system and its individual components -- from desktop computers to mainframes to software applications and middleware -- are self-configuring, self-healing, self-optimizing, and self-protecting. They regulate themselves and, sometimes, each other.

Together, they proactively manage the entire system, and mask the inherent complexity of these activities from end users.

Next week, IBM's storage systems group is expected to announce new autonomic features for its Enterprise Storage Server, code-named Shark, as part of the initiative. In addition, IBM has recently refreshed its entire disk, tape and storage networking products with autonomic features such as configuration-on-the-fly and "phone home" alerts that optimize performance and safeguard data.

IBM has been working on the idea of autonomic computing for some time, said Mike Gilpin, a research fellow at Giga Information Group Inc., Cambridge, Mass. IBM is now following through with its vision by revealing how it plans to bring the technology to users.

"They've got to show the seriousness of their purpose and evidence that they're making necessary moves to implement that vision," he said.

IBM's autonomic computing division will be responsible for working with the company's product development teams, its global services organization and IBM Research.

IBM said its initiative includes providing users with a new autonomic computing deployment model designed to help customers evolve to an autonomic IT environment. This model will be used by systems engineers and IBM global services consultants.

In addition, IBM will offer autonomic features in its WebSphere Application Server Version 5.0, recently announced Tivoli software and DB2 database. DB2 version 8 will be generally available to customers on Nov. 21, the company said.

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