IBM has made a slew of product, standards and partnership announcements around autonomic computing - software that manages itself, cutting complex IT sysadmin time by up to 50 per cent, according to IBM's estimates.

The products include:

  • Two new Global Services offerings, including IBM Accelerator for Service Management for Problem Determination. This enables clients to combine, analyse and correlate event information across heterogeneous systems. This includes log adapters that can convert disparate log data into a common format, providing a single user interface for simplified, end-to-end viewing, analysis and correlation of the consolidated data.
  • Dynamic Infrastructure for my SAP Business Suite, which improves how resources can be sharedbetween different SAP applications. It speeds up the introduction of new SAP systems and lowers their total cost of ownership, according to the company. It uses IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager, which IBM said also includes autonomic technology.
  • New autonomic software in IBM’s Autonomic Computing Toolkit, where developers can add self-managing functions to their applications and services. IBM said the new software helps developers apply self-managing technology to larger, more complex system applications using Java. Tens of thousands of developers have downloaded the toolkit since its launch last year, according to the company. The new version will be available in the third quarter.

IBM also said it was working with standards organisations and industry leaders to enocurage the take-up of autonomic computing. For example, its Solution Installation specification will be considered by an workgroup of OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), which develops standards for Web services.

Also, the Common Base Event specification submitted by IBM was "a critical input" in the Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) standard recently ratified by OASIS, according to Big Blue.
Such autonomic features, which are part of IBM's autonomic computing initiative that started in 2001, are designed to automate the process of locating multi-vendor infrastructure problems, which when done manually, can be very time consuming. Instead, autonomic systems automatically diagnose the root causes of problems and so cut downtime. IT analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates estimated that determining the cause of a problem can take up to 50-80 per cent of an IT staff’s time, while only 15-20 per cent of their time is spent on actual repair.

IBM said it has already woven over 475 autonomic features into 75 IBM products. They are critical elements in delivering Tivoli's IT Service Management strategy, said IBM, which is focused on automating and integrating IT processes throughout a business.

"As autonomic problem determination tools and processes are implemented through the new services, enterprises have the ability to diagnose problems more quickly and often prevent more serious issues from arising, reducing downtime and the associated revenue losses," said Alan Ganek, IBM head of autonomic computing and Tivoli's chief technology officer.

Other vendors have launched similar initiatives, notably HP with its Adaptive Enterprise, and Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative.