Computer, Heal Thyself

by Sunil Kumar    Aug 28, 2006

Autonomic computing or self-healing systems, has gained ground from the first half of this decade. Various companies including IBM, HP and Microsoft have their respective visions for the future of autonomic computing. Self-managing computing systems could be the established norm in the future.

The term is generally used for a network’s ability to self-manage, self-heal and self-configure systems, whether it is Web services or data center infrastructure, as fast as possible to make sure networks suffer minimum downtime and require lesser maintenance.

Embotics was founded in 2006 to provide automated IT service management capabilities for computers. They have given a demonstration of their automated management plane solution at the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) 2006 conference

Jay Litkey, Founder & President, Embotics said, “In 2001, IBM had elaborated a vision for self-healing systems which consider the human body as a model. Self-healing systems will reduce labour downtime. Adaptive computing has been laid out as a vision by Microsoft, HP and IBM. We have been working with both Intel and AMD to develop self secure and self-aware systems.”

Contrasting the approaches of Intel and AMD, Litkey said that although AMD is more open in approaching autonomic computing, Intel remains a closed and proprietary organization. He maintained that the average technology user would be more inclined to a more open and development-oriented approach towards autonomic computing.

Litkey claimed that his vision would be extending autonomic and embedded computing inside every device so that the future would be ensuring increased reliability in approaching hardware failure and embedding virtualization in every desktop and server. The added software costs can be a possible drawback. IBM Tivoli and HP Open View have been related with autonomic computing.

He said that while products such as HP’s OpenView and IBM’s Tivoli management currently do ‘root cause analysis’ of problems, embedded computing inside every motherboard will be a more effective approach towards self healing systems.

In terms of regulations governing autonomic computing, he said that while the WS Management specification for autonomic computing had been laid down, changes in the future could alter requirements. This regulation is a SOAP-based protocol for managing services, desktop, and devices, jointly defined by a number of technology companies in 2005, including AMD.

In terms of an adoption across verticals, autonomic computing had been adopted in the financial services arena and a great potential market is the managed services segment. He also claimed that telecom services could be a great market for autonomic computing. He added that computer manufacturers have been early adopters of autonomic computing as a technology. The major benefits would include reducing downtime and developing more cost-sensitive and cheaper technologies.

In terms of a market for autonomic computing, he claims that with large-scale shipment of desktops and servers in North America and throughout the world, autonomic computing can reach many markets across the world. He has also considered old legacy systems as places where autonomic computing can possibly be adopted.

Litkey maintained that autonomic computing capabilities cannot be built overnight and there has to be a gradual and phased approach towards its adoption. He said that autonomic computing is also tied in with the growth of grid computing and virtualization in general.