IT Vendors Give IBM a Hand With Project eLiza

Big Blue works with IT vendors to develop a road map that will help it define the strategic design requirement and assist with the self-management infrastructure for autonomous, self-healing systems.

IBM is working with a number of IT vendors and customers to develop a road map that will help it define the strategic design requirement and assist with the self-management infrastructure for autonomous, self-healing systems.

The Armonk, N.Y., company will also announce Wednesday a services offering to automate key electronic business processes and better predict, identify and intercept problems on a real-time basis.

These initiatives follow its April announcement of Project eLiza, a multibillion-dollar initiative aimed at creating an e-business infrastructure of self-managing servers that require little or no human interaction.

"But we cannot do this alone, and so we have partnered with some 20 companies, including BMC Software Inc., Nortel, Danske Bank, Merrill Lynch and Terra Lycos," Greg Burke, the director for Project eLiza, told eWEEK in an interview ahead of the announcement. "On the requirement side they are telling us what is required to move toward automated computing from a management point of view.

"They are telling us what they are having the biggest problems with, which helps us prioritize exactly what and where the investment should be. On the technical side they are helping us define and review the designs IBM has created to move us down the path of autonomic computing," Burke said.

IBM and its partners are jointly working on issues like what standards and policy-based implementations are required to achieve things such as heterogeneous workload management across different platforms and architectures, he added.

But this process is still in an early stage. IBM and some of its industry partners are meeting in Austin, Texas, this week to share what they feel is needed to move forward. They are also breaking up into detailed technology working sessions to define and orchestrate the types of design necessary to provide a managed end-to-end infrastructure that allow interoperation between multiple partners in an open standard way, Burke said.

In addition, these partners will be counted on to ensure that IBM makes the "right business decisions as to the technology deliverables," he said.

Reggie Moore, vice president of technology planning at BMC, told eWEEK he strongly supports the concept because "without this type of technology, customers wont be able to manage their workloads going forward. We have complex environments, huge transactional volumes and a shortage of experienced technicians

"Through Web enablement, customers now cant manage those peak periods effectively and react quickly enough to outages and unavailability, which translates into a loss of business," he said.

While IBM was putting more intelligence into the hardware, BMC was doing much the same with its software by embedding its experience and intellect into the technology it delivers, Moore said.

"We are all working together to determine what the right level of intelligence should be integrated into the technology to ensure it is complementary. The end user requires good service, and enterprises want continual business availability of their critical applications, both of which will be met by this solution, incrementally, over time," he added.

IBMs Burke said users will also benefit as new products and services get rolled out more quickly and the increased automation of many mundane processes allow them to deploy their skilled resources elsewhere.

IBMs new real-time business services offering, which Burke claimed is the first of its kind for the industry, will also map customers business processes to their IT infrastructure. "Business processes have a dramatic impact on how things operate within a company," he said.

The services package, provided by IBM Global Services, utilizes more than 18 pending IBM Research patents and provides real-time alerts of risks and detailed identification of issues that will affect a business process via a "dashboard" graphical interface.

"Any event that affects the business process objectives will be highlighted on the desktop dashboard, effectively identifying disrupted performance on a real-time basis. This virtual command center arms executives with a centralized, instantaneously updated overview of business operations to allow for real-time business decisions," Burke said.