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IBM pushes self-healing systems

IBM has formed the Autonomic Computing Organization to drive the integration of technology designed to fix systems automatically.

In its early stages, the project is focusing on IBM's storage, Tivoli, and WebSphere products, as IBM looks to drive down data centre management costs.

Autonomic computing introduces self-configuring, self-healing, self-optimising, and self-protecting capabilities to the total IT system, from desktop computers to mainframes, software applications, and middleware, according to IBM.

IBM's Storage Systems is introducing autonomic software that allows users to configure and manage data across large server farms as part of its Shark product roadmap.

The company is also releasing a new version of its Tivoli software, which has 26 new autonomic features relating largely to systems management capabilities, including identity and storage resource management software, said Alan Ganek, vice-president of IBM's Autonomic Computing Organization.

IBM has also announced that its WebSphere 5.0 server, due out in November, will contain a number of self-optimising and self-healing features that analyse and correct problems.

In addition to the internal integration challenges the initiative poses, analysts believe IBM also faces strong competition from Hewlett-Packard and Sun in the development of utility computing.

"HP has a lead with its utility computing model, and Sun has a good story with virtualisation and manageability," said Brad Day, senior analyst at Giga Information Group. "But [Sun] will be much more believable if they can deliver the goods on their own Solaris captive platforms. IBM doesn't have that luxury because they have multiple platforms and operating systems to consider." IBM also faces the challenge of getting its ISV partners to begin piloting some of these new models, Day added.

Other analysts see strength in IBM's vision. "[IBM does] a good job of talking about where these autonomic initiatives are moving users. It will be critical, however, for them to continue to fill in the blank spaces between now and their ultimate goal with useful products," said John Humphreys, senior analyst at IDC.

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