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IBM servers: Who needs humans?

Big Blue moves ahead with its plan to build autonomic computers that can anticipate and recover from problems without human intervention. And it's got company.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read
IBM has begun a new phase of its work to decrease corporate reliance on expensive computer administrators, with plans to release software later this year that balances work across many computers.

Big Blue is demonstrating a second phase in its eLiza plan to build autonomic computers that can anticipate and recover from problems without human intervention. Now IBM is showing software called Enterprise Workload Manager that governs not just single servers but groups, monitoring the machines and shifting work among them.

IBM is aggressively researching ways to get groups of servers to work together without human intervention, but it isn't the only one. Sun Microsystems in February uncloaked "N1," which treats groups of computers like a single pool of processing and storage power. And Hewlett-Packard plans a "utility data center" to simplify management of data centers crammed with computing equipment.

Selected customers will be able to try the workload management software later this year, with its widespread availability on mainframes and Unix, Windows and Linux servers in 2003, IBM said. IBM also will announce several eLiza components that will be available for individual servers earlier:

•  IBM Global Services is selling software that remotely detects and repairs problems with IBM servers.

•  The Electronic Service Update service transmits problems to IBM, whose computers attempt to repair the system automatically.

•  "Raquarium" will improve IBM Director software, letting customers manage large numbers of small "blade" servers en masse.

•  Enterprise Identity Mapping, which governs a computer user's network privileges depending on how secure that person's network access is.