Autonomic computing, IBM's term for its effort to develop and deploy intelligent systems that self manage and regulate themselves, much the way the human autonomic nervous system manages the human body, has been embodied in an ongoing initiative known as project eLiza. The biological metaphor suggest a systemic approach, coordinating activity across the many components of computing systems, achieving a much higher level of automation.

The first IBM servers to incorporate some of these features rolled out last year. Now, IBM has shown that it can apply some of the same technologies to storage. In July, IBM introduced an enterprise storage server that includes predictive failure analysis and preemptive RAID reconstructs, which are designed to monitor the "health" of the system and to detect potential problems or system errors before they occur.

ESS also provides intelligent cache management and I/O prioritization, helping to optimize its performance based on varying service level demands. Also in July, IBM announced the incorporation of several key software upgrades into its NAS product line to improve systems management through the use of smart technology like the latest version of IBM Director Agent 3.1.

The company says that the IBM Director 3.1 can help predict when problems may occur and has the ability to automatically call another computer for help or even order necessary parts. IBM's Storage Manager for SAK 2.0 automatically monitors how much

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storage capacity each person uses and the type of files they can store. For example, an administrator can set a policy to not allow MP3 files to be saved, or to automatically notify users who exceed their allotted storage capacity and ask them to eliminate unnecessary files.

Mike Kahn, analyst with the Clipper Group, Wellesley Mass. says he thinks IBM is on a path that "will be very important over the next year or two as a class of functionality."

"It is clear that many tasks are being performed by storage administrators that could be automated," he said. Kahn says other vendors will probably be following IBM's lead, which he says is a good start, so far.

"They are delivering some good functionality. It is real but it isn't yet a complete answer," he said.

For more information:

  • Will IBM's new Shark make a splash?
  • IBM fills out NAS line
  • Managing storage complexity

  • Alan Earls often writes about things NAS and SAN in his weekly "SAN/NAS Update: Trends" column. View the latest
  • About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, MA.

    This was first published in August 2002

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