IBM has rolled out a set of product and service upgrades designed to advance the next phase of its autonomic computing software strategy.

IBM, which kicked off its autonomic computing initiative in 2001, already offers 500 related features in more than 100 products focused in part on datacentre automation. The company said more than 18,000 customers have downloaded its Autonomic Computing Tool Kit.

"The next phase of autonomic computing needs to build on relating technology to the business. It is no longer enough to just automate operations; customers also need visibility into how technology is supporting and enabling the business," said IBM's Alan Ganek, CTO of IBM Tivoli and vice president of autonomic computing. "Going forward, autonomic products will reflect a life-cycle approach to how IT impacts the business."

IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager has been updated to report on application and system use by lines of business. With more environments being consolidated and more departments sharing resources, Ganek said it is critical for IT departments to understand who is using applications and for what. The software can trace usage based on business units and groups. "This will show where IT investments are going and how it relates to the profit," he said.

IBM also enhanced its Tivoli Security Operations Manager to include a dashboard of aggregated real-time security events. A security-information management product, the software can analyse data from multiple devices to calculate threats and risk. Now it automates the identification of critical incidents in real time, as well as provides historical analysis of security data.

Expected to be available in mid-December, Security Operations Manager supports a higher rate of events and reports on the business impact of actions IT may take in response to security incidents, IBM said. "The software integrates with our Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database to show downstream what applications and services are impacted by a security event," Ganek said.

IBM has also released an updated product that monitors datacentre energy use. IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager, introduced in 2005 as PowerExecutive, lets customers put caps on power use, prevent spending more than budgeted on power and monitor power use overall. The software monitors each IT resource in a datacentre for power consumption and helps IT staff plan for capacity, as well as scale back where needed.

"Two years ago you couldn't find a customer that was really thinking about power and energy consumption. Now you can't find a customer that doesn't have this issue top-of-mind," Ganek said. "This product is part of a broad effort across IBM to deliver an intelligent network to support efficient use of energy."

On the services front, IBM today will help customers optimise their testing and assurance processes with IBM OptimizeTest. The service will speed the IT testing process and automate the provisioning of new computer systems on demand, Ganek said, by working with other Tivoli tools, such as provisioning software. By accelerating the test process, IT departments can deploy new systems more quickly and get in-demand applications up and running with fewer worries.

"The focus of these releases is really to address business needs today with technology," Ganek said.