IBM launches Autonomic Grids

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As IT vendors go, it is hard to think of any that has managed to promote ideas and new solutions as often as IBM has. Over the last few years the company has enjoyed considerable visibility in a number of areas, particularly in grid computing and what the company describes as autonomic computing. Last week, IBM announced that it is bringing the qualities associated with autonomic environments to the rapidly developing grid space.

Grid computing has recently moved out of the laboratory and research environments into certain areas of mainstream business, especially those in the financial services sector where there can be a need to perform very, very large numbers of relatively straightforward computations in as short a time as possible. In fact, in some areas of the sector, grid computing has succeeded in making it possible to perform some calculations quickly enough to change the way business works. Now grid is looking to address an even greater range of business opportunities.

On the other side, autonomic computing has delivered capabilities that help systems manage themselves more effectively than has previously been possible by keeping systems operational despite some component or software failures.

IBM’s announcement looks to combine the qualities inherent in both of these IT architectures. The new ‘self-managing’ autonomic software handles spikes and lulls in IT service demand by allocating server resources automatically, without the need for human managerial intervention. Such an approach could make it possible for grid IT systems to run around almost continually. Indeed the software can cater for planned outages, such as when an application is being updated across the grid, and also deal with unplanned outages.

The new Tivoli software for managing grid environments benefits from a long heritage that combines qualities inherent in batch processing, workload and capacity management and forecasting coupled with general systems management automation technologies. These have been put together in a Tivoli offering that allows clients to automatically shift workloads around, onto and off the grid environment to ensure that the most important jobs are handled first and to ensure that the appropriate service levels are met. Crucially, the software also enables accurate forecasts of high-priority workloads to try to ensure that resources do not become overwhelmed.

In essence, the new IBM Tivoli Workload and Capacity Management software complements the existing Tivoli offerings for managing grid systems and the company’s service management solutions. The use of grid is expanding and the addition of management tools to optimise their use is to be welcomed and we will soon see if grids resonate to these advances.