Comdex: IBM offers glimpse of autonomic computing for PC or notebook

IBM executives revealed what IT managers can expect from its self-healing, or autonomic computing, initiative over the next year...

IBM executives revealed what IT managers can expect from its self-healing, or autonomic computing, initiative over the next year or two.

While most of the talk about autonomic computing up until now has been about systems on the network and server side, IBM unveiled a roadmap for notebooks and desktops in private meetings held at Comdex.

Next year IBM will add an autonomic technology called Instant Connect to Access Connect, its notebook technology that puts various location configuration profiles on a user's mobile device to automate and optimise connections back to the network.

Instant Connect can create and configure a system automatically when a network profile and known resources for a particular location are not included in the notebook. It will detect the type of connection environment that exists and determine what configuration data is needed to make the connection back to the network.

Using Bluetooth, infrared, or IEEE 802.11x, the system can determine what configuration data is needed by "asking a neighbouring PC" for the proper connection data. Polling a nearby PC happens without interruption to either system and without user intervention.

If all else fails and another local PC cannot supply the configuration information, the system will send a message telling the user what piece of data is still required, such as a WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol) key for access to a wireless network.

For IBM, autonomic computing appears to be more a concept than any one particular technology. While the goal is always the same - self-healing systems that do not require user intervention - there are, in fact, numerous technologies that accomplish this concept.

Another autonomic solution is an upgrade to IBM's Wireless Security Auditor called Distributed Wireless Security Auditor (DWSA), a handheld device with Wi-Fi that allows a network administrator to walk through a building to find rogue access points.

Using triangulation, because many PCs are identifying the same rogue access point, the system can locate the access within four feet. If a floor plan were overlaid on top of the co-ordinates, the administrator would easily identify which employee set up an unauthorised network.

Finally, IBM unveiled Client Rescue and Recovery, an upgrade to its existing recovery system that allows users to return to a previous state in case of a crash by depressing the F11 key on a ThinkPad.

The latest version, for which no time frame was given, creates a separate environment outside of Windows. If a hard disk crashes and there are no other alternative media, the system will boot into Random Access Memory and from there connect a user to his or her helpdesk or anywhere on the network they might need to go.

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