Autonomic Computing – what is it …

… and is it coming your way soon?

Autonomics is all about reducing the cost of owning a system by making them manage themselves. (Yes -the TCO – Total Cost of Ownership) buzzword rears it’s ugly head again.
Systems are getting more and more complex, the tools developers now have at their disposal have come on leaps and bounds in the last 10 years, but poor old sys-admins are still stuck with their log files …

Systems that manage themselves? Surely that’s all a bit Star-Trek ish and not really going to happen in the next 18 months …

On the plus side , IBM is pushing the concept , including the ‘Toolkit for Autonomic Computing’ that is availabe from the IBM Alphaworks site. At a basic level (such as email Administrator when problem occurs, or some of the Virus Checking toolkits that monitor network activity), autonomics is already with us. You could argue that JMX (Java Management Extensions), a key part of Sun’s Enterprise Java, is a foundation for this kind of self-awareness and self-management. Some of the tools for managing Server and Web Hosting farms could be seen in the ‘Autonomic Computing’ light.

On the down side, there is a lot of work to be done. For a start, there is as yet no standard toolkit (e.g. where would Object Orientated Programming be without Java). The 2nd problem is mindshare – it’s System administrators that feel the pain, not developers, so the momentum that produced Extreme and Agile programming is less likely to occur.

It’s all part of the the 1st part of the 2nd year of the MSC in Advanced Software Engineering at University College Dublin (UCD). Course Director is Dr Simon Dobson.


  1. Paul,

    Both DB2 and Tivoli have had elements of autonomic computing weaved into them over the last couple of years. I wrote an intro piece on the “MAPE-K” loop for IBM developerWorks in early 2004.

    I played with the early releases of the toolkit, it was fun. This stuff has been bubbling under for a long time, so I don’t think it’s going to sit around quiet for too long.

    Jase Bell

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