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Introducing Autonomic Computing

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Isn't the goal of having computers in business to streamline our work lives? As Richard Murch explains, autonomic computing takes us a step closer to the goal, with hardware and software that can manage itself.

What Is Autonomic Computing?

Autonomic computing is a vital part of IBM's future vision, and it means making computers that can take care of themselves. Computers would automatically diagnose their own problems and fix them, reasoning out how to protect themselves from future viruses, software bugs, and hardware breakdowns. The machines would become, in IBM CEO Sam Palmisano's words, "self-protecting, self-healing, self-optimizing, and self-configuring."

IBM is taking on a fundamental challenge. The high-tech industry has spent decades creating systems of marvelous and ever-increasing complexity, but today that complexity itself is the problem. Applications break frequently, and users must spend huge amounts of time and money managing their computer systems. With autonomic computing, IBM is attacking this problem at the root. The term autonomic comes from the human autonomic system—a marvel of the human body that automatically regulates important functions such as heart rate, breathing, sense, and touch, all without us noticing it.

Autonomic computing systems have the ability to manage themselves and to dynamically adapt to change in accordance with evolving or dynamic business policies and objectives. These systems can perform management activities based on situations they observe or sense in the IT environment. Rather than IT professionals initiating management activities, the system observes something about itself and acts accordingly. This allows the IT professional to focus on high-value tasks while the technology manages the more mundane operations.

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