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IBM pursues software installation standard

IBM has unveiled technology aimed at reducing complexity in software installation and packaging and has submitted it to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for consideration as an industry standard.

Called Solution Installation for Autonomic Computing, the technology enables software developers and software suppliers to improve the installation and support experience and simplify the software packaging process, according to IBM. Developers would be able to build packaged software for installation on a variety of platforms.

"One of the observations is that half of the problems that are surfacing in today's IT environments are stemming from configuration issues," said David Bartlett, director of autonomic computing at IBM.

The rise of heterogeneous environments has created issues related to application interdependencies, Bartlett said. Solution Installation is focusing on reducing the complexity around this issue.  "No longer are products just installed by themselves or work by themselves. They're part of a larger solution," he said.

Led by IBM and Novell, the technology has been submitted to the W3C. "IBM is seeking formation of a cross-industry standards committee within W3C to formalise a specification for software packaging.

An XML-based packaging schema featured in the Software Installation technology is intended to lay the foundation for self-configuring capabilities in "on demand" infrastructures, in which infrastructures are self-configuring. InstallShield Software Technologies and Zero G Software are also partners on the proposed industry standard.

 IBM is seeking a standard that defines what an installable unit of software is, instead of developers each having their own approaches to installation, Bartlett said.

As part of the effort, IBM is developing an approach and implementation for a set of manageability interfaces that products can use to relate packaging and configuration information to resources across an IT infrastructure.

Support for Solution Installation is being sought from suppliers such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and SAP, Bartlett said.

Products from IBM using Solution Installation technology are anticipated within the next year, although each product group must make that determination, Bartlett said.

Paul Krill writes for Infoworld


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