IBM Revs Up Autonomic Computing for Data Centers

Active Energy Manager leverages autonomic capabilities for a green solution.

IBM, which introduced the term "autonomic computing" in a 2001 speech at Harvard and predicted that this would ultimately be the model for future enterprise computing, is starting to crank out more products specifically for the genre.

Autonomic computing is a self-management mechanism for a system or systems. Autonomic IT systems can make pre-programmed "decisions" for themselves to solve problems—then solve them very quickly—in order to keep the data center operational. At its optimum, the process actually prevents problems from happening in the first place through a combination of business and operational intelligence, gained by a constant collection of data.

IBM Nov. 6 introduced a new version of its data center management software, IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager, which leverages autonomic capabilities for a green solution.

The latest version of IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager, originally introduced in 2005 as PowerExecutive, allows customers to cap power usage, prevent cost overruns and monitor energy usage trends that enable better planning before deploying workloads across multiple platforms in their data centers.

In addition, IBM is identifying software and services from around the company—mostly from its Tivoli management software division—that fit into the autonomic arena and re-branding them as such.

On Nov. 7, IBM will announce the rest of the mostly Tivoli-developed products. The common enemy that all these new products attack: complexity.

"As far as we know, IBM is the only company that calls this 'autonomic' computing," Ric Telford, IBM's vice president of autonomic computing, told eWEEK. "Others call it 'adaptive' [Hewlett-Packard] or simply 'self-managed' computing."

The newest autonomic computing product, Active Energy Manager, or AEM, gives clients a way to understand exactly how much power is being used in their data centers and where it is being consumed, said Rich Lechner, IBM's vice president for IT Optimization.


"Along with being able to cap the energy that powers these systems, this information can help save significant energy and cooling costs and create a greener data center environment," Lechner said.

Originally developed for IBM's x86 System x hardware, AEM now supports additional IBM Systems (Power) and IBM System Storage platforms. Plans are in the works for it to support IBM System z mainframes, Lechner said.

Instead of relying on manufacturer energy usage and efficiency estimates, IT managers using AEM can use its autonomic capabilities to see the actual power used by each IT resource in the data center, Lechner said. This allows managers to better approximate and plan for technology and energy budgets over time.


Click here to read more about IBM's energy-efficiency certificate program.

AEM also manages power usage across supported servers through functions such as Power Capping and Power Savings Mode. Power Capping lets users set a maximum power level per system while Power Savings Mode lets users manage power usage as work activity shifts across various demands, Lechner said.

In addition, AEM includes Power Trending and Thermal Trending features to monitor and report system energy usage as well as inlet and exhaust air temperatures for individual systems. Incorporating this additional data into a centralized software-based power usage offering allows finite and localized temperature adjustments within the IT shop to further reduce energy costs for cooling, Lechner said.

Active Energy Manager also provides a source of energy management data that will be used by Tivoli enterprise software such as IBM Tivoli Monitoring and IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager. This combination of products enables customers to monitor and manage both virtual and physical environments while controlling energy costs.

IBM Active Energy Manager will be available for download beginning Dec. 7, 2007. The iPDU capabilities, Power Trending and Thermal Trending features of the AEM product are available free for charge. Prices for managing power usage start at $100 per system and include both Power Savings Mode and Power Capping.


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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...