IBM Offers Free Autonomic Template

By Clint Boulton

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IBM is offering the public a free template for creating software that seeks out glitches in networks and squelches them before they cause performance failure.

Under the aegis of its autonomic computing strategy, the Armonk, N.Y. concern will also make available the first in a series of technologies based on the blueprint. The move demonstrates that IBM is looking to take a leadership position in the field of self-managing computing, where highly intuitive software detects problems and keeps them from becoming network catastrophes.

Though a fairly new ideology, IBM and vendors such as Microsoft, Sun and HP have all dipped into the self-managing computing well. Recently, Microsoft unveiled its Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) software architecture for PCs.

Analysts have been raving about its potential, claiming these modular services may run a variety of different kinds of workloads and handle unanticipated changes in workload profiles. In the near future, experts also see this trend emerging as a long-term battle for the management of the enterprise resources: as operating system and hardware platforms become increasingly commoditized, this level of management will become a major competitive battleground.

IBM's autonomic blueprint outlines control loops to monitor, analyze and react to changes within an IT environment. This loop collects information from the system, makes decisions and then tweaks the system as necessary. This control loop can enable the system to self-configure, heal, optimize and protect. It is based on the Open Grid Systems Architecture and Application Resource Measurement (ARM) standard.

The technologies IBM introduced to developers along with the technology map include:

* Log and trace tool: Designed to locate problems, it frees up time for systems administrators by eliminating the manual task of tracking down the cause of a system problem by putting the log data from different system components into a common format IBM expects this tool will help bridge the gap between identifying glitches and debugging affected applications and middleware.
* ABLE (Agent Building and Learning Environment) Rules Engine for Complex Analysis: ABLE is a set learning and reasoning components that, through the use of special monitoring software, can capture and share individual and organizational knowledge.
* Monitoring Engine providing Autonomic Monitoring capability: Developed by IBM's Tivoli brand, this technology detects resource outages and potential problems before they impact system performance. The monitoring engine features self-healing technology to allow systems to quickly recover from situations.
* Business Workload Management for Heterogeneous Environments: This tool helps isolate the causes of bottlenecks in the system through response time measurement, reporting of transaction processing segments, and dynamic learning of transaction workflow through servers and middleware. This technology will begin to rollout in the IBM Tivoli Monitoring for Transaction Performance V5.2 product

IBM explained the impetus for its largesse in a public statement.

"In order to build a robust foundation for autonomic computing, it is imperative that there exists an approach to standards and tools that facilitates and encourages the development of open systems. The adoption rate for developing autonomic computing systems depends on customers having access to essential technologies and tools that make it easy to incorporate them into their systems."