IBM Beefs Up Autonomic Computing Portfolio

Big Blue envisions computing systems that not only manage and fix themselves on the fly, but also deliver operational intelligence derived from the datacenter to managers running individual business units.

Autonomic computing doesn't have the same buzz these days as virtualization or, say, service-oriented-architecture (SOA) (define), but that's not stopping IBM from moving forward with its latest line of software and services designed for companies to create self-managing computing networks.

IBM, which launched its autonomic computing initiative in 2001 and remains—with few exceptions—the lone champion of this rather esoteric market, on Thursday rolled out new software and service programs that it says will support the next development phase for self-managing and self-healing computing networks.

Autonomic computing software helps a network of servers manage and regulate themselves, freeing IT administrators to focus on other issues and projects.

Rick Telford, vice president of IBM's autonomic computing group, said IBM has thus far delivered more than 500-plus autonomic computing features for more than 100 IBM products in the past six years and predicts the combination of open standards and cooperation from disparate hardware and software vendors will push this technology into the mainstream in the near future.

"Over the last six years, we've been focused on this mission and building out across the industry," he said in an interview with "We worked extensively internally as well as with universities, partners and competitors to think about making systems more self-managing. It may not be as sexy as SOA or virtualization, but it's necessary to combat our biggest problem in IT—the complexity factor."

Speaking of SOA, perhaps the hottest topic of discussion and investment in corporate datacenters, Telford said companies pondering a migration to a service-oriented environment might be delaying their move because their IT budgets are consumed with the tedious, day-to-day tasks required to manage their existing systems.

One of the new software tools unveiled Thursday, IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager, provides automated resource accounting, cost allocation and chargeback billing based on usage of datacenter resources. When individual business units within large companies tap IT resources like servers to run their applications, someone has to pay for it. This software not only delivers something of an itemized report for IT usage but also gives business leaders a real-time primer telling them which units are growing, which are shrinking and which might be ideal candidates for migration to a virtual machine to reduce costs.

"It's not only saving money from an IT perspective but also giving operational intelligence back to the business," Telford said. "That's always been the goal but now we're entering a phase where it's becoming a reality."

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