IBM, Unis Combine Autonomic, Cloud Computing

By Nicole Hemsoth

March 31, 2008

IBM announced that it will collaborate with two of America’s leading academic institutions on an initiative to develop new autonomic technology for cloud computing. The effort is aimed at developing future technologies and training IT professionals required to enhance the performance and energy usage of computing applications while increasing productivity in the workplace.

Together with The Georgia Institute of Technology and The Ohio State University, IBM is initiating this broad-scale, collaborative research project focused on self-managing features for virtualized datacenters in a cloud computing environment. This new project includes the creation of a prototype computing cloud that links datacenters from the two institutions, called the Critical Enterprise Cloud Computing Services (CECCS) facility.

Virtualized datacenters give organizations the ability to do more with fewer resources by optimizing the use of software, computing hardware and storage, and network infrastructure by sharing not only across departments but also across different physical locations. Cloud computing allows corporate datacenters to operate more like the Internet by enabling computing across a distributed, globally accessible fabric of resources, rather than simply depending upon local machines or remote server farms.

The success of cloud computing and a virtualized datacenter depends on the ability to continue the development of new management technology based upon autonomic, or self-managing, capabilities that can reduce the complexity and resources to manage the underlying distributed computing resources.

“Business environments and supporting technologies have evolved immeasurably since IBM first introduced the autonomic computing challenge to the industry in 2001,” said Alan Ganek, IBM vice president of autonomic computing and CTO of IBM Tivoli software. “Collaboration with our academic partners will pioneer new areas of research to further integrate autonomic capabilities in computer systems to help reduce the growing complexity of managing datacenters in support of businesses’ goals.”

The project focuses on software application services that are critical to the ability of a business to function, such as operational information systems run by large airlines. It will look at how job and process activities and maintenance schedules can be undertaken without seriously jeopardizing critical datacenter operations. Similarly, the project intends to use self-managing software to address a general problem of balancing technology system availability versus performance.

The project will foster interaction and exchange of innovative ideas among professors at Georgia Tech and Ohio State and IBM Watson and Austin Research Labs and Raleigh development teams. Through the use of IBM Shared University Research and IBM Academic Initiative programs, IBM is awarding the universities with IBM BladeCenter H chassis running HS21 servers, IBM System Storage DS3400, networking equipment and software that includes IBM Tivoli, WebSphere and Information Management. Together with virtualization support, these will form the necessary foundation for building the CECCS facility.

The joint research will combine IBM’s extensive technical, autonomic computing and cloud computing expertise, Ohio State’s focus on IT processes and management issues, and Georgia Tech’s focus on creating new technologies and methods for managing complex, dynamic and diverse distributed service-oriented systems and applications.

“For future virtualized and service-oriented systems within a cloud environment, we contend that without the coordinated use of hardware, operating systems, middleware and applications, it will simply not be possible to meet the demands of tomorrow’s critical applications and systems that support them,” said Karsten Schwan, CERCS director at The Georgia Institute of Technology. “The CECCS facility will be a test-bed for modern management tools, such as those provided by IBM Tivoli, and a visible artifact for interactions with industry technology users and developers in these regions and around the world.”

“The CECCS program will not only be a new research facility, but it also will enable exciting, synergistic joint curriculum and research across these two institutions,” said Rajiv Ramnath, director, CERCS for Enterprise Transformation and Innovation at The Ohio State University. “With this joint IT infrastructure across our two institutions, we will have available to our practice, research and education a prototype of the distributed infrastructures now used in business settings. We will use SOA methods to link different software silos running at both sites, dynamically monitor and manage a highly distributed virtualized infrastructure, and study and develop autonomic technology and integrated tools to develop and manage reference implementations of flexible, business-aligned enterprise architectures that will be used to research and educate on the issues of dynamics, diversity and complexity associated with this increasingly common computing structure.”

IBM Shared University Research awards are given annually by IBM worldwide within the IBM University Relations program to help stimulate the flow of scientific knowledge to society in a range of research fields and topics. For this collaborative research project, IBM will work closely with professors Greg Eisenhauer, Ling Liu, Calton Pu and Karsten Schwan at Georgia Tech and Rajiv Ramnath and Jay Ramanathan at Ohio State.

IBM Cloud Computing and Autonomic Computing

Over the past year, IBM has expanded its cloud computing capabilities around the world and provided cloud computing services to clients such as China Telecom, Wuxi Municipal Government of China, the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam and others. IBM also launched “Blue Cloud,” a series of cloud computing offerings, and entered into partnerships for cloud computing programs with a number of worldwide partners.

IBM first introduced the term “autonomic computing” in 2001 and issued a Grand Challenge to the industry to build computer systems that regulate themselves much in the same way the autonomic nervous system regulates and protects the human body. Autonomic computing was unveiled as a solution to combat the rising complexity of managing advanced computer systems. IBM has since integrated autonomic capabilities in over 500 product features into more than 100 distinct products and services. With autonomic computing, the company has focused on simplifying datacenter operations with virtualization, provisioning, databases, maintenance, energy management, security and other areas.

For more information about IBM autonomic computing, visit www.ibm.com/autonomic, and for IBM cloud computing, www.ibm.com/developerworks/websphere/zones/hipods.

More information on The Georgia Institute of Technology can be found at www.gatech.edu and on CERCS at www.cercs.gatech.edu.

More information on The Ohio State University can be found at www.osu.edu and on CETI at www.ceti.cse.ohio-state.edu.

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