IBM brings business intelligence to autonomic tools

Big Blue announces new service and upgrades to existing products

IBM has introduced upgrades to a handful of products and services that Big Blue says will help customers using its autonomic computing software and services better support the business with technology.

IBM, which kicked off its autonomic computing initiative in 2001, offers 500 related features in more than 100 products focused in part on data center automation. IBM says more than 18,000 customers have downloaded the vendor's Autonomic Computing Tool Kit since its inception. This week Big Blue announced upgrades to existing products and introduced a service to help customers get more from its autonomic efforts as the company moves into the next phase of its imitative.

"The next phase of autonomic computing needs to build on relating technology to the business. It is no longer enough to just automate operations; customers also need visibility into how technology is supporting and enabling the business," says IBM's Alan Ganek, CTO of IBM Tivoli and vice president of autonomic computing. "Going forward, autonomic products will reflect a life-cycle approach to how IT impacts the business," he says.

To start, Big Blue upgraded its IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager to report on application and system use by lines of business. With more environments being consolidated and more departments sharing resources, Ganek says it is critical for IT departments to understand who is using applications and for what. The software, which is available, can trace back use based on business units and groups. "This will show where IT investments are going and how it relates to the profit," he says.

IBM also enhanced its IBM Tivoli Security Operations Manager to include a dashboard of aggregated real-time security events. A security-information management product, the software can analyze data from multiple devices to determine threats and risk. Now it automates the identification of critical incidents in real time, as well as provides historical analysis of security data. Expected to be available in mid-December, Security Operations Manager supports a higher rate of events and reports on the business impact of actions IT may take in response to security incidents, IBM says. "The software integrates with our Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database to show downstream what applications and services are impacted by a security event," Ganek explains.

Also this week IBM made available an updated product that monitors data-center energy use. IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager -- introduced in 2005 as PowerExecutive -- lets customers put caps on power use, prevent spending more than budgeted on power and monitor power use overall. The software monitors each IT resource in a data center for power consumption and helps IT staff plan for capacity going forward -- as well as scale back where needed.

"Two years ago you couldn't find a customer that was really thinking about power and energy consumption. Now you can't find a customer that doesn't have this issue top-of-mind," Ganek says. "This product is part of a broad effort across IBM to deliver an intelligent network to support efficient use of energy."

On the services front, IBM today will help customers optimize their testing and assurance processes with IBM OptimizeTest. The service will speed the IT testing process and automate the provisioning of new computer systems on demand, Ganek says, by working with other Tivoli tools, such as provisioning software. By accelerating the test process, IT departments can deploy new systems more quickly and get in-demand applications up and running with fewer worries.

"The focus of these releases is really to address business needs today with technology," Ganek says.

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