IBM eyes 'symptoms catalog' for sick apps, systems

IBM is talking with other large systems management vendors about how best to build a knowledge base that would contain information on known problems with software and systems to help applications fix themselves automatically.

"We want to propose our 'symptoms catalogue' format to a standards body, but we can't yet say when or who the body would be," vice-president of autonomic computing, Ric Telford, said.

IBM has only recently begun talking to other major management vendors such as HP, BMC Software and CA about the possibility of such a standard.

The symptom catalogue would be a repository that contains known problems with an application or system, Telford said. The standards initiative is related to IBM's announcement of new software called IBM Build to Manage Toolkit for Problem Determination, which will reside inside the company's Tivoli, WebSphere and Rational software. It's designed to help developers build symptom catalogues and related software for problem determination management capabilities.

The tool kit will be free as a part of various software tools due out before the end of the year, Telford said. It is based on the Oasis Web Services Distributed Management Event Format industry standard. Toshiba Solutions' ClusterPerfect EX tool kit now supports problem determination capability and was developed in collaboration with IBM.

Telford offered an example of a common use of the tool kit: A large retailer could use it for an e-commerce website tied to complex inventory databases. The developers of the e-commerce application could notice problems with configurations and recommend solutions that would be captured and placed into a system catalogue to be handed over to the IT operations team charged with keeping the application running.

IBM's autonomic computing initiative, launched in 2001, has led to the creation of 475 self-managing autonomic features in 75 different IBM products, according to the company.

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