IBM debuts self-healing, self-managing products

IBM Corp. on Wednesday delivered the first self-managing, self-healing products that are part of its Project eLiza initiative, along with a new management service that monitors corporate IT systems around the clock providing real-time alerts of potential risks.

The new e-business management service, to be run out of the company’s Global Services organization, helps large companies assess what their computing goals are – ranging from overall system performance to installing the right combination of hardware and software to meet and maintain those objectives, according to company officials.

“This is a service that starts at the business objective level and involves working with the client to understand what their critical business processes are and what the intended objectives are,” said Mike Errity, who is overseeing the service at IBM’s Global Services unit.

“We can implement an environment that maps the entire resource structure including IT resources, people, and facilities across their enterprise. It can help them identify things like degradation in performance that could impact those business objectives.”

Some analysts believe that with these latest announcements IBM is increasing its lead in the enterprise systems management arena over Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., especially with the new management service.

“While the new services offering clearly raises the bar for eLiza’s competitive functionality, eLiza is now a business value-based initiative not just technology. And compounding the challenge for competitors like Sun is, IBM has patented or has pending many of the underlying technologies being used here,” said Jim Cassell, a group vice-president at Dataquest Research.

However, because IBM officials believe the service will require extensive training on the part of corporate IT support staffs, users will have to pay IBM to run the service for them. Depending on the number of management services that users want or require, the cost could run well into six figures.

“Right now the intent is to have the monitoring be done by a service delivery center within [IBM’s] Global Services. The strategic direction of this offering will allow for users to monitor it themselves in the future,” Errity said.

IBM plans to work with 20 different partners who will help develop the overall strategic direction of the Project eLiza technologies and then implement them for their own use. Some of those partners include BMC Software Inc., Candle Corp., Nortel Networks Corp., Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., and Tera Lycos .

The new eLiza functions are built into IBM’s line of eServers and the company’s Tivoli systems management software. The new capabilities help automate various aspects of infrastructure security, privacy, and management.

Company officials believe these improvements help larger IT shops to sidestep costs associated with unexpected downtime, while speeding up systems performance and simplifying the process of managing user information.

“Our job here is to make it easy, not just for the IT staffs, but also for the COOs, CFOs, and CEOs,” said Mike Nelson, IBM’s director of Internet technology and strategy, based in Washington. “If there is a problem with their IT systems, some of these tools and the service allows top management to more quickly see what is going on and to make decisions on whether they need to invest in new services or shut down a server farm.”

Some of the new eLiza-based functions within Tivoli include the ability to automatically shift workloads; another, called the Tivoli Risk Manager, allows administrators to look at their entire system to see where the vulnerabilities are and what they must do stop intrusions, according to Nelson.

A third capability, called the Identity Director, allows administrators to automate and simplify the process of managing user information across multiple hardware platforms and applications. A fourth capability being introduced into Tivoli is a self-optimization capability for software applications depending on which hardware platform it is running on.