IBM has come up with a way of simplifying and standardising the everyday task of installing and packaging software, and has submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for consideration as an industry standard.

Called Solution Installation for Autonomic Computing, the technology enables software developers and vendors to improve installation and support during the software packaging process, according to IBM. Developers would be able to build packaged software for installation on a variety of platforms.

"Half of the problems that are surfacing in today's IT environments are stemming from configuration issues," said David Bartlett, director of autonomic computing at IBM.

The rise of varied environments has made the task of getting applications to work together much harder, Bartlett said. As such, Solution Installation is aimed at making the whole process simpler. "No longer are products just installed by themselves or work by themselves. They're part of a larger solution," he said.

Led by IBM and Novell, the technology has been submitted to the W3C as the "Solution Installation Schema Submission." IBM is seeking formation of a cross-industry standards committee within W3C to formalise a specification for software packaging.

An XML-based packaging schema in the technology also lays the foundation for self-configuring capabilities in "on demand" infrastructures. InstallShield and Zero G have also put their names to the proposed standard.

IBM is seeking to define what an installable unit of software is, instead of developers each having their own approaches to installation, Bartlett said. "The usefulness of this is that it will be possible to have the software vendors put multiple things together and install them in some fairly simple way," said analyst Amy Wohl.

Another analyst compared Software Installation to Microsoft's System Definition Model, albeit for multiple platforms. "What IBM is aiming to do with Solution Installation is cover a broader, cross-section of the different range of platforms," said Mike Gilpin, research director at Forrester.

Support for Solution Installation is being sought from vendors such as Microsoft, Sun, Oracle and SAP, Bartlett said. Products from IBM that use Solution Installation technology are anticipated within the next year.