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IBM Accelerates Into Next Phase of Autonomic Computing


IBM (NYSE: IBM) today renewed its long-standing commitment to reducing IT complexity by announcing new offerings that support the next phase of Autonomic Computing and deliver on the promise of self-managing, self-healing computing systems -- a goal the company riveted its attention to more than six years ago.

IBM is leading the way into the next phase of Autonomic Computing which leverages self-managing capabilities to provide operational intelligence from the data center to business leaders.

The new offerings give customers the ability to make better use of the intelligence that lies within their computing systems to benefit strategy and planning, analysis, deployment of resources, operations and maintenance while improving delivery of technology as a service. In this next phase, Autonomic Computing helps users drastically improve their management of energy consumption, assets and facilities, governance and risk, and finance and accounting.

These technologies and services support the original goals of Autonomic Computing to establish IT systems that regulate their own health and thereby support the business goals and policies of organizations.

In October 2001, IBM Research unveiled the IBM Autonomic Computing Manifesto to IT industry leaders and proposed a solution to the challenge of maintaining the increasingly complex computing environments that millions of businesses, billions of humans and trillions of devices rely on each day: build systems that regulate themselves much in the same way the autonomic nervous system regulates and protects human bodies.

“This was and remains a grand industry challenge that IBM issued to both itself as well as other IT companies,” said Alan Ganek, vice president of Autonomic Computing and CTO of IBM Tivoli software. “The difficulty is not the machines themselves -- the industry has brilliantly exceeded goals for computer performance and speed. The challenge is to create the open standards and new technologies needed for systems to interact effectively, to enact predetermined business policies more effectively, and to be able to protect, heal and manage themselves with minimal dependence on human intervention.”

Since laying out the autonomic challenge, IBM has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development to simplify computing systems and has integrated autonomic capabilities into over 500 product features in more than 100 distinct products and services. From technology driving Blue Gene\L, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to “self-healing” features now standard in its systems management software, the company has focused on simplifying datacenter operations with virtualization, provisioning, databases, maintenance, energy management, security and other areas.

In the process, IBM has helped companies to lower costs and improve their operations. For example, in using IBM OPTIMIZETest -- a new services offering that automates testing and assurance for IT operations -- Marist College in New York has been able to speed its IT testing and autonomously provision and manage computer systems on demand, lowering the cost of provisioning storage and server systems. The college now does more testing in 50 percent less time while identifying potential problems earlier.

Additionally, Network Solutions, LLC, provider of Internet services for small and medium-sized businesses, successfully migrated over 450 servers managing 17 terabytes of data from one data center to another while integrating two newly acquired companies. They relied on key processes and tools from the autonomic features of IBM Tivoli software and saved more than $1 million in IT management costs.

“With our growing hosting and e-commerce infrastructures, we’re adding over 150 servers and 20 terabytes of storage per year,” said Jim Polkowske, vice president of operations for Network Solutions. “Leveraging autonomic capabilities, we can deploy software updates in 80 percent less time and without the risk of human error. This equates to less strain on our IT staff and significantly greater reliability and system availability for our customers.”

IBM’s new and updated offerings support Autonomic Computing by increasing operational intelligence, improving IT testing, monitoring and performance, and helping to establish superior IT service management:

* IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager -- Automated software for resource accounting, cost allocation and chargeback billing based on usage of resources, links to operation management to help improve overall IT cost management.
* IBM Tivoli Security Operations Manager -- Provides consolidated real- time dashboard to help customers keep their computer networks and systems up and running despite security threats from malicious outsiders, employees or contractors. The software autonomously analyzes data from throughout the data center to detect security threats, optimizing and automating the process of incident recognition, investigation and response.
* IBM OPTIMIZETest -- Services offering that automates testing and assurance for IT operations. Speeds the IT testing process and autonomously provisions and manages computer systems on demand. Helps lower the cost of provisioning storage and server systems.
* IBM Tivoli Monitoring -- Availability and performance monitoring for IT resources, with key diagnostic data and automated corrective actions, to help improve the performance of IT applications performance and minimize and avoid availability interruptions.
* IBM service management services -- Provides strategy, planning, design and implementation services to help clients adapt accepted standards and practices to their unique computing environments. Supports best practices for service management, such as ITIL, to help improve IT service quality, efficiency and speed, improve resource management, asset management, change management and service management and produce a more resilient IT enterprise.
* IBM Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database -- Provides a platform for implementing service management initiatives. It automatically tracks IT information spread across many computer systems within a company -- including details about servers, storage devices, networks, middleware, applications and data -- and helps IT staff understand the relationships and dependencies among these various components.

Additionally, announced earlier this week, IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager is an industry-first energy management software that uses autonomic capabilities to track power consumption in data centers and helps customers to monitor their power usage and make adjustments to improve efficiency and reduce costs. The new version enables customers to cap power usage, prevent cost overruns and monitor workload usage trends to enable better planning before deploying workloads across multiple platforms in data centers.

Autonomic Computing and Industry Open Standards
IBM’s unwavering commitment to driving industry collaboration for open standards helps advance Autonomic Computing. To fully address the needs of customers, who largely rely on technology from different vendors, Autonomic Computing requires open standards. Industry open standards help drive the value of Autonomic Computing and reduce complexity by making components from multiple vendors compatible.

For example, IBM is working with other industry leaders on the COSMOS (Community Systems Management Open Source) project formed this past year at Eclipse. The project aims to reduce the complexity of managing IT environments by improving the compatibility of management tools from different vendors. These compatibility improvements will make it easier for businesses to monitor and manage computing resources such as applications, servers, networks and databases.

IBM also is collaborating on open technology to enable databases from different vendors to more easily share information, via the CMDB Federation working group. With a standard way for vendors and IT management tools to share and access data, businesses can use their Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs) to create easier access to information spread out across multiple databases. This makes it easier to keep track of changes to an IT environment, such as the last time an application was updated or changes to critical configuration information.


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