IBM has launched an Autonomic Computing Toolkit which it says will help developers to build self-healing computer systems.

Based on the Eclipse open-source framework, the toolkit works with IBM's software development platform, and comprises embeddable components, tools, usage scenarios and documentation to enable people to add automated control elements to their applications.

The components cover four core areas. The Autonomic Management Engine monitors an application, identifies any problems and decides what should be done to correct them. The Integrated Solutions Console allows a company's IT admin to be monitored and run centrally over a Web-based infrastructure.

The Solution Installation and deployment technologies are crucial in that they spot interdependencies between applications to reduce installation and configuration problems. And lastly, the Problem Determination technologies include a Common Base Event (CBE) format to simplify data sharing, a Generic Log Adaptor that converts existing files to the CBE format, and a Log and Trace Analyzer that reads the CBE logs, correlates the results and displays the records. This speeds up analysis of the root cause of problems, IBM said.

IDC analyst Chris Ingle explained that "autonomic computing" is an important part of IBM's On Demand computing strategy. But while developers are likely to download and try the toolkit, it's still early days. "People are very interested in it, but it's not being built into systems just yet," he warned.

Management technology has generally been added to applications as an afterthought, and it will certainly make code easier to manage if it is built in during development, he added. "But it's all at a fairly early stage, it's very advanced technology."

There is, as yet, no standard for self-healing technology, as the area is still developing, and this means that companies like IBM and Microsoft (under its Visual Studio product line) are developing in very different directions, Ingle said. "There needs to be some unification, as everyone's releasing different things. There are groups trying to establish standards, but it's what gets deployed first that becomes the standard," he said.

The toolkit, which supports IBM AIX, Linux on Intel systems and Windows 2000 platforms, also includes online tutorials and user guides to help developers.

The toolkit is available at www.ibm.com/autonomic. Upgraded versions will be released throughout the year, IBM said.