September 19, 2006 16:14 ET

IBM Emerging Tech Watch: Self-Healing Software Diagnoses IT Problems Based on Symptoms

ARMONK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- September 19, 2006 -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced new software that helps developers and solution providers build self-healing capabilities into their applications -- features that could save IT staff up to 80 percent of time previously spent resolving issues manually. Created through the collaboration of IBM research and development laboratories in India, Japan, Toronto and the United States, the software helps recognize warning signs to head off system crashes and performance bottlenecks.

The new software, which is based on open industry standards, helps developers capture and pinpoint the root cause of problems -- allowing them to create a customized catalog of problem symptoms so they can be fixed based on historical knowledge. This symptoms catalog is essentially an automated "cheat-sheet" that operations staff can use if these problems come up when deploying and running the application, saving time and money. Additional symptoms and solutions can be added as new knowledge on the causes of problems is learned, continuously making the catalog more far-reaching and useful.

Today, a glitch in one IT component can trigger dozens of other errors, causing a domino effect that compounds the problem. The task of troubleshooting problems can take teams of IT specialists hours or even days to manually review error logs to trace problems, step-by-step, back to the point of failure. In fact, IT analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates estimates that determining the cause of a problem can take 50 to 80 percent of an IT staff's time, while 15 to 20 percent of their time is spent repairing it.

The software is part of the IBM Build to Manage Toolkit for Problem Determination, which also contains tools, tutorials and support to help developers quickly build problem determination management capabilities into their applications, without being management experts. Problem determination components found in the toolkit are drawn from IBM's Tivoli, WebSphere and Rational software portfolios.

According to Dr. Kazuo Iwano, Vice President, IBM Software Laboratory in Yamato, Japan, "With core technology in place, we are now in autonomic computing's second stage -- targeting for IT process efficiency, particularly around making systems management. This autonomic technology allows us to envision a day within a few short years when all IT problems are resolved in a fraction of the time it takes today. This has the potential to unleash enormous productivity gains from such a dramatic decrease in downtime."

The software is part of IBM's cross-industry autonomic computing initiative, which has worked over the past five years to radically simplify IT management, and the underlying infrastructure, by automating processes and building intelligence into systems themselves, helping to move businesses toward environments that are self-managing. IBM has built the broadest portfolio of autonomic-enabled products, services and solutions in the industry, with more than 475 self-managing autonomic features in 75 distinct IBM products.

The toolkit is based on the OASIS Web Services Distributed Management Event Format (WSDM WEF) industry standard. In addition to making technology easier to manage, WSDM helps companies build out service oriented architecture, or SOA, which is a way of reusing a company's existing technology to more closely align with business goals, resulting in greater efficiencies, cost savings and productivity. IBM has contributed several components of the toolkit -- including the new symptom catalog authoring tools and WSDM WEF software libraries -- to the Eclipse Test and Performance Tools Platform and the Apache Muse open source project.

"Toshiba Solutions Corporation provides various multi-platform solutions to our customers. We believe IBM's new software enables a variety of hardware, operating systems and software to easily adapt to autonomic computing based problem determination technology," said Akira Bannai, Chief Fellow of Toshiba Solutions Corporation. "Toshiba Solutions' cluster software, ClusterPerfect EX, now supports Common Base Event and symptom database technology, providing both high availability and quick problem determination capability together with our system management solutions."

Made in IBM Labs

IBM's Autonomic Computing Technology Center in Yamato, Japan helped pioneer the development of the Build to Manage Toolkit for Problem Determination. Opened in July 2005, the Yamato center was created to address the overwhelming interest from Japanese customers and partners to make technology self-managing. The center employs 50 engineers who are dedicated to IBM's autonomic computing initiative, delivering services including the development of autonomic components and tools, support for IBM clients, business partners and education institutions and progress for standardization.

The Yamato center is part of IBM's globally integrated approach to innovation -- a network of 55 Software Development and Research Labs worldwide that develop, test and support a wide range of emerging and established technologies that span software and services. IBM labs in India, Toronto and the United States contributed to the toolkit as well.

Earlier this year, IBM introduced the Build to Manage Toolkit for Java Instrumentation, to help developers apply open management standards for response time measurement, management and event creation.

The IBM Build to Manage Toolkit for Problem Determination will be available in the fourth quarter of 2006. For more information, visit

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