UCD Module on Autonomic Systems

Want to know what we’ve been up to in the module on Adaptive Software? Simon Dobson’s Home Page (the course head) is as good a place to start as any.

When you understand Adaptive Middleware , replication , self -management , context collection and self-directed systems management , please let me know. It seems a long time since we covered these topics back last November and I’m currently ploughing through them preparing for the exam at the end of next month.

Apparantly Fuzzy logic isn’t just something that happens down the pub after a few pints, it’s alive and well in the chip that controls your washing machine. The theory of fuzzy logic does not cover what happens where all the odd socks disappear too.

Be nice to your System Administrator

Probably the toughest assignment of the Master’s course so far, but we made the deadline and have now learnt how to be nice to System Administrators. This did not involve us learning how to make them cups of tea, get them the newspaper etc. What it did involve is building systems that manage themselves.

To see what we’re talking about, take a look at the project we put together (links below). It’s a document share system running on 1, 10 or as many computers as you want. It uses Peer-2-Peer (p2p) technology so that even if you pull the plug the others take over and replicate the documents. Ok, it’s not quite ready for venture capital funding, but this idea of ‘self-management’ means that nobody get’s called out of
bed for something that the computer can learn to manage itself.


  1. Download Code as Zip
  2. Browse Code Online
  3. IBM Framework for Autonomic Computing (using Eclipse)

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.