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IBM, Cisco push data center standard

The companies are getting behind a Web services standard, based on IBM's autonomic computing technology, that aims to make it easier to troubleshoot problems in a corporate data center.

IBM and Cisco Systems on Friday announced that they are spearheading an effort to create an industrywide method for troubleshooting glitches in complex-computing data centers.

The two companies will pursue the standardization of problem-resolution techniques through submissions to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), a standards body. Their initial proposal for a standard is based on IBM's work on autonomic computing, which envisions computing systems that can automatically fix their own problems without human intervention.

IBM and Cisco seek to tackle the lack of a common reporting format for application failures in the disparate parts of a corporate data center, Alan Ganek, vice president of autonomic computing at IBM, said Thursday.


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The individual elements of a data center--such as servers, software components and networking gear--each contain a log that helps systems administrators locate the source of a problem.

Typically, the logging information from these elements is tracked separately and not collated or compared. This slows down problem resolution, according to Ganek. To expedite the process, IBM and Cisco are proposing a single data format that would allow disparate systems to share troubleshooting information.

IBM intends to submit a data format, called the Common Base Event format, to the OASIS Web Services Distributed Management (WSDM) working group, Ganek said. This format, based on IBM's existing "log and trace" tools, aims to provide a way for hardware and software from multiple companies to share logging information.

"If you expect to add intelligence in order to manage systems, you better understand what the systems are doing. And that means you have to put in the instrumentation to capture what's going on in the system," Ganek said.

IBM expects to finish its own set of network problem resolution tools, including the log and trace software, by the end of the year.

The WDSM working group at OASIS is developing a standard for managing applications that conform to Web services standards, with capabilities such as ensuring application performance and application monitoring. An initial draft specification is set for completion by the beginning of 2004.