Big Blue Opens Autonomic R&D Shop In India

systems management

The computing giant announced Tuesday that it has opened a new R&D shop in Bangalore, India, that will focus on developing and deploying "self-managing" systems for local clients, business partners and academic institutions.

The Autonomic Computing Technology Center, an extension of the India Software Laboratory, employs 35 developers and engineers who are responsible for building "self-configuring, self-healing, self-optimizing, self-protecting" capabilities in IBM products such as its Tivoli systems management tools and controls, said Catherine Pleil, an IBM Tivoli Service Management program director.

"What we're really trying to do is get our customers to spend less time on managing their IT systems, and more time on building their business," Pleil said.

IBM has invested some $6 billion in India, according to the company, and this latest investment is good news for vendors who integrate IBM's autonomic computing features with their own products.

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"It's really exciting," said Todd Terbeek, vice president of business development at Lockdown Networks in Seattle, Wash.

Lockdown Networks, which produces network access control software for its Enforcer appliance, integrates its network security policy enforcement tool with Tivoli's autonomic patching capabilities.

The company conducts roughly 65 percent of its sales through channel partners, Terbeek said.

"I think the VARs that we work with love the capabilities [autonomic computing] gives them," he said. "Autonomic computing makes sense on so many levels. We're a small company, but the fact that IBM is making these kinds of investments is great."

Greg Rose, director of corporate development for software vendor Integrien, agrees.

"I know that IBM is putting a lot of resources into [its autonomic computing initiative]. It's the kind of thing that makes you feel good," said Rose, whose company sells software that uses statistics and analytical techniques to predict problems in enterprise applications.

Integrien's Alive integrity management solution works directly with Tivoli to better manage IT resources.

"The integration we've been able to do with their Tivoli, is that not only can we predict problems but now we can auto-resolve them," Rose said.

IBM, with more than 500 self-managing features in 75 distinct IBM products, has been aggressive in developing the technology since initiating its autonomic computing project in 2001. The new Indian facility joins an autonomic development center IBM opened in Japan in 2005, and will also work closely with the company's software development labs in Research Triangle Park, N.C. and Toronto.

While the Bangalore lab, like its Japanese counterpart, is primarily tasked with finding autonomic solutions for the specific local IBM clients, Pleil said the technology it develops will "generally" be available for the worldwide market.

"Japan has the double-byte issues, but it's absolutely been the case in Japan," she said. "They are definitely addressing some unique challenges in Japan, but the work they've done is generally available worldwide."

IT management analyst Julie Craig called autonomic computing "the future of our industry" and notes that the giants of technology are all investing in their own initiatives.

"Microsoft has what it calls its dynamic systems initiative, which is basically autonomic computing. HP also has significant investment in autonomic capabilities, particularly at the infrastructure level," said Craig, a senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo.

She believes the resources being funneled into autonomic computing will not only streamline sophisticated systems management tools like Tivoli, but "filter down" to smaller players in the MSP space.

"If you're talking about Software-as-a-Service, autonomic technology is going to trim the cost of the services they provide," Craig said. "Right now, an MSP's staff is spending a lot of time in manual pursuit. Hopefully, they will be able to push that kind of scut work over to the technology, which is going to free people up to go after new customers.

"From the perspective of an MSP or a small IT department, they will definitely reap the reward. This technology is being built into everything."