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IBM and the History of Autonomics

By John | March 27, 2008

At any given point in time, you can look at IBM as a glass half empty or a glass half full. IBM has always been famous for what Gartner coined years ago as a company that creates great marketectures. IBM typically puts a stake in the ground on a concept 7 to 10 years before the idea ever comes to fruition. Is this great foresight or great marketing on IBM’s behalf? I am not sure. Clearly, last year when IBM announced its Blue Cloud, in my opinion, it had nothing but a great idea. For about a month, though, they owned the “cloud” discussion on the Internet. This year, IBM continues to control the discussion with its recent announcements of a Wuxi and Dublin “Blue Cloud” initiative regardless of how cloudy I think they really are. Is IBM’s glass half full when it comes to “cloud” technologies? Of course it is, it’s IBM.

In 2001, IBM coined the term “Autonomic Computing” as a model for computer systems that regulate themselves. In fact, at the time it issued a challenge to the industry to build systems that were self configuring and self healing the way the autonomic nervous system regulates the human body. I was in the city by the bay when IBM first announced Autonomic Computing at its 2001 Planet Tivoli convention. Seven years later and having been knee-deep in IBM’s product(s) muck, I have yet to see an example of any of their Tivoli solutions that self configure and self heal. In fact, I challenge anyone at IBM to debate me on the merits of Autonomics as it exists on any of the Tivoli monitoring or provisioning portfolios. Today’s IBM announcement of its “Autonomic Research Collaboration for Cloud Computing” initiative at Georgia Tech and Ohio State could be viewed as kind of a back to the drawing board omission of the IBM current state of Autonomic Computing. All this being said, however, was IBM’s creation of the concept of “Autonomic Computing” a glass half empty or glass half full? Clearly, Autonomics in IT management is a concept that’s time must come. In fact some of the hip new “Cloud” vendors are doing Autonomics without even calling it Autonomics. In the end, it’s one thing to question IBM’s motives, but it would be foolish to question their capabilities. Therefore, when I see IBM’s recent Autonomics announcement I immediately think glass half empty. I know in the end, though, that IBM’s cup will clearly runneth over when it comes to Autonomics and Cloud Computing (ouch that was bad).

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Topics: autonomic, blue cloud, cloud computing, ibm | 1 Comment »

One Response to “IBM and the History of Autonomics”

  1. Mark Cathcart Says:
    February 28th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    John, IBM employees way too many bright people in marketing, product management and other ancillary roles to the actual product development teams. This is the reason the requirements and marketing run way ahead for any serious initiatives at IBM and why stuff most disappears before the poor old development teams have had a chance to deliver it. Autonomic, On Demand, cloud all suffer from the same fate as do many others.

    If IBM doesn’t have the technology at day-1 then the bright people start talking it up to gain market traction, fifteen months later when the first release, which isn’t even half what the bright people promised is ready, there’s a crisis, and they either kill it, move it, or fold it into the next big thing( on demand > SOA). Otherwise the bright people get bored and move on and start talking about something else.