Many large enterprises are teetering on the precipice of data center disaster as complexity, cost, and demands for efficiency and security are placing increasing strain on often over-loaded and under-staffed operations. Improved management, particular the introduction of self-managing capabilities, are seen as critical to keeping data centers on budget and delivering to businesses demands.
IBM on Thursday announced what it calls the "next wave" in autonomic computing, which includes the introduction of new operational intelligence capabilities within some of its key product lines to expand the role of self-managing, self-healing computing systems, said Ric Telford, VP of autonomic computing for IBM, in an interview.
"We have come a long way in building an ecosystem around autonomic computing and in delivering products around autonomic computing," Telford said. "What I think is most important, however, is the recognition that we are at an inflection point in history where we have a lot of technologies coming out that will leverage this set of information, and the self-managing capabilities, to provide operational intelligence for the data center."
The use of autonomic computing will be a key part of transforming the data center from being primarily a call center to becoming a business differentiator as IT staff is able to more intuitively manage data center operation and equipment efficiency, he said.
A recent survey of about 800 large companies by Symantec found that more than half of the respondents believe their data centers are currently understaffed, and 86% said they have difficulty finding qualified applicants. Two-thirds of respondents said they have formal service level agreements inside their organizations, and 51% said they have failed to meet at least some of those agreements in the past two years.
Since formally announcing its autonomic computing initiative in 2001, IBM has devoted millions of dollars in research and development to the area, and has integrated autonomic capabilities into over 500 different product features in more than 100 products and services offered by the company, Telford said.
New and updated autonomic offerings announced Thursday are targeted at increasing operational intelligence, improving IT testing, and performance monitoring. They included several updates within Tivoli as well as enhanced services.
IBM added autonomic functionality to Tivoli's Usage and Accounting Manager, Security Operations Manager, Monitoring, and Change and Configuration Management Database. The Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager, for example, enables automated resource accounting, cost allocation, and chargeback billing based on actual usage.
"Not only can you fairly bill different operational units within an organization, but all that data can be used for other purposes as well to enable intelligent operational decisions about allocation of resources based on predictive usage patterns. We are driving towards a vision to bridge the gap between IT and business and give data center managers more intelligently use what they have within their operations," he said.
Another recent IBM introduction developed within the autonomic computing team was a "gas gauge", for its mainframe computers, which monitors energy usage and cooling statistics, and has allowed the company to issue "miles per gallon" ratings for its systems, which end-users can use to make determinations on their data center implementations and power and cooling requirements.
"When you have the operational intelligence to make decisions about trade-offs between usage and workloads and set the policies about how to effectively and efficiently run your data center," Telford says. "That is the next phase of autonomic computing, as we increasingly leverage the operational intelligence that is being gathered across all aspects of the data center."