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ThinkVantage Technologies is the first step towards crystallising the long-held IT dream of PCs being able to diagnose and heal themselves.
It is also the first series of products to corroborate IBM chairman Sam Palmisano's vision of an "on demand" computing environment for the company's largest users, which is reliant on a variety of hardware and software products capable of self-healing and self-managing.
"What Sam Palmisano said was that for users to have an e-business on demand infrastructure and environment, they need an autonomic client that can self-manage, self-heal, self-configure. The only way for that to happen is to embed these technologies inside them," said Rich Fennessey, vice-president of marketing at IBM's PC group.
IBM will begin branding its ThinkCentre desktop offerings at the Partner World conference in February. With the company's existing line of portable systems already called ThinkPads, IBM will continue with that name.
"We will show off the new models in February that support this initiative as well as communicate a complete offerings roadmap for what products and technologies we will produce over the course of 2003," Fennessey said.
Besides the rebranded desktop systems, IBM will also introduce a new line of ThinkVision displays, a line of Think Accessories and Think Services offerings.
Some of the ThinkVantage technologies include RapidRestore PC, a software tool that comes bundled with desktop systems that can restore previously saved data and applications after a failure.
Embedded Security Subsystem, a system made up of both hardware and downloadable software, protects mission-critical data. A third tool is called ImageBuilder, a toolkit for larger IT shops to help reduce the number of software images they must support.
In concert with the ThinkVantage Technologies, IBM Research also demonstrated a handful of autonomic technologies it has developed in concert with the PC group that centre around PCs "healing" themselves.
They include Client Recovery and Rescue, intended to help users recover data and to continue operations even after a catastrophic PC failure such as a broken hard drive.
A second technology, called Distributed Wireless Security Auditor, lets PCs in the same location work in concert with each other to detect a number of "rogue" security risks within wireless networks.
IBM Research also took the wraps off Instant Connections, a technology that can detect both wireless and wired networks automatically and then configure PCs with them.