IBM is contributing more code to the open-source community based on the WSDM (Web services distributed management) standard.

WSDM, often pronounced "wisdom," is an Oasis standard that helps manage a wide variety of hardware and software and brings more autonomic or self-healing capabilities to systems management software used in data centers. Automating more aspects of systems management should help to lower IT support costs as well as increase technology utilisation as systems bottlenecks become easier to identify.

IBM is making its implementation of the Common Event Base framework for WSDM freely available to the open-source Apache Muse Project. The vendor previously contributed WSDM development tools to the Eclipse Foundation.

With more than 30 IBM products already incorporating WSDM, IBM thought the time was right to open source more of its code relating to the standard, according to Scott Handy, vice president, worldwide Linux and open source at IBM. The 30-plus IBM products include some of its Tivoli systems management software, its DB2 databases, its Rational development tools and its virtualisation engine.

IBM's hope is that open sourcing its framework will encourage other systems management software vendors like CA and Hewlett-Packard to stop duplicate development work and embrace the IBM approach for building WSDM interfaces, Handy said.

The open-source approach can be much more efficient to adopt once a technology has gained critical mass so that organisations can build on top of existing code and access each other's new work. "Everyone is building off the shoulders of giants," Handy added. "The problems [we're addressing] are bigger than a single vendor can solve."

The ultimate aim is to have WSDM in every piece of software including operating systems. "Customers want systems management for everything they have," Handy said. So far, users are having to deal with too many different systems management tools across their operations and often have to manually integrate those tools themselves.

IBM intends to remain one of the leading contributors to Muse for WSDM, funnelling customers' critical requirements to the open-source community, Handy said.

As well as its activities with Apache and Eclipse, IBM contributes to over 150 open-source projects such as Aperi, Globus Alliance, Higgins, Mozilla and Open Ajax.

Handy works in close collaboration with Dan Frye, vice president of IBM's Linux technology centre, to determine the allocation of IBM developer resources to each project.

Assigning developers to the projects is more a function of specific problem solving than the importance of any given project, Handy said. Once an issue has been addressed or incorporated into a piece of open-source software, developers move over to resolving problems on other projects.