IBM Targets Lifeboat Technology at Downtime

IBM seeks to improve operational efficiency by reducing system downtime and simplifying management.

IBM is developing new technologies and software that it says will improve operational efficiency by reducing system downtime and simplifying management.

Officials from the companys Personal Systems Group last week at Comdex here said the Somers, N.Y., division hopes to launch by next fall several applications under its new ThinkVantage Technologies umbrella that ease management of PCs for corporate IT managers and users alike.

One product, Client Rescue and Recovery, includes a set of features built in to IBM desktops and notebooks that will help users access critical data and the Internet in the event of hard drive or operating system failures, officials said.

In the event of an operating system crash, Client Rescue and Recovery, which is based on DOS, gives users access to files stored on the hard drive. In the event of a hard drive failure, users will still be able to access the Internet for Web mail.

"We look at it as a lifeboat," said Brian Connors, chief technology officer and vice president of business development and quality at IBMs PSG, in an interview here last week. "We wanted to figure out a way to get you to shore."

"It would be nice to have a more specific description of the cause of the [connection] problem to provide to the trouble-shooter," said Sarah Kayser, a project planner in WorldCom Inc.s IT department, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "That should save some time on the phone with the help desk and, hopefully, get you back in business quicker."

Client Rescue and Recovery is the next step up from IBMs Rapid Restore PC software, which lets users restore files with the touch of a button in the event of a crash, virus or application problem. Pricing and distribution has not been set, but Connors said the software could be easily integrated into the companys Tivoli management product.

IBM also next year plans to launch DWSA (Distributed Wireless Security Auditor), a network monitoring system that uses the PCs in an office to detect rogue, or non-company-approved, wireless access points on the company wireless LAN. The technology uses the power of wireless adapters to periodically ping the wireless access points. When reports come back with information about an access point that is not part of the company network, IT managers can pinpoint the location through network modeling software and remove it.

DWSA will be available within a year, Connors said. Beyond that, IBM is working on ways to help companies take a rogue access point and automatically secure it and either kill it or add it to the network. "Were thinking of turning the bad guy into a good guy," Connors said.

In addition, IBM next year plans to launch Instant Connections, a feature for ThinkPads and other PCs that detects the type of connection, wired or wireless, and configures itself accordingly. As a result, the chore of users having to remember IP addresses, Wired Equivalent Privacy keys and the like is eliminated.