IBM Expands Self-Healing Technologies

There's a Hole in the Server, eLiza, eLiza

Bringing the fruits of its eLiza initiative to market, last week IBM Corp. announced new self-healing technologies on Thursday. The products use automation to help the infrastructure adapt to changing demands.

Later this year, IBM will offer a developer version of Enterprise Workload Manager (eWLM) for free download on its Web site. When complete, eWLM will offer enterprises a comprehensive framework for managing applications in the enterprise. It can manage mainframe, Unix, Linux, and Windows systems from IBM and other vendors.

“We’re trying to provide customers with a set of technologies for them to run their enterprise infrastructures,” says Vance Symons, global executive for eLiza. Symons says the product will take IBM’s self-healing technologies like chip-kill memory at the system level up to the overall infrastructure.

For example, eWLM will be able to sense if a mainframe application is overtaxed and allocate more power to the partition from an underused partition. It can also manage Intel servers linked in a load-balancing cluster. While there is room for manual intervention, the goal is for the software to automate most of the management tasks within the infrastructure.

Symons says IBM developed new adaptive algorithms to power eWLM. While some self-learning management tools develop an understanding of steady states in the infrastructure, he believes IBM has a new approach with eWLM. “We actually have a neural network here,” says Symons.

eWLM is one product of IBM' s Project eLiza, which the company announced about a year ago. Project eLiza aims to bring many of the self-management features available on the mainframe to lesser platforms like Unix, midrange, and Intel servers.

Other products of eLiza include Enterprise Identity Mapping, the single sign-on technology included in the latest version of OS/400; ITS Electronic Service Agent, an IBM Global Services product that automates the repair of server issues; and Racquarium, forthcoming blade management software.

According to Symons, the release of these management tools will give IBM an advantage over its competitors in the Unix and Intel market for two major reasons. First, the products support any server regardless of vendor. Some Intel server vendors try to lock in customers by only allowing their management software to run on their servers; these products run on any Windows or Linux server and support multiple Unix flavors including HP-UX, Solaris, and Compaq Tru64.

Second, IBM’s catholic approach to server management (treating devices from the mainframe down to tiny blade servers) gives IBM an opportunity to sell the product into diverse IT infrastructures. It also gives users a single point of management for the infrastructure.

eWLM will first reach customers in the form of a developer’s release for free download on the Web. IBM expects enterprises to run it in test configurations and ISVs to write for its APIs. Symons would not indicate what the cost of production software would be.

The software will run on a J2EE compatible application server and use agents on each of the host servers managed by eWLM.

About the Author

Chris McConnell is Product and Technology Editor for Enterprise Systems.