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Tivoli CTO Lays Out Autonomic Computing Strategy

For the past few years, Alan Ganek has led IBM's efforts in autonomic computing, which is designed to automate many tasks associated with system and network management. More recently, Ganek added CTO duties for IBM's Tivoli division. In an interview with CRN Editor in Chief Michael Vizard, Ganek discusses IBM's progress in autonomic computing--a cornerstone of its on-demand computing strategy--and the role he expects Tivoli to play in making that happen.

CRN: IBM has been talking about autonomic computing for a couple of years now. How much progress are you making?

GANEK: We announced last summer an ability that essentially allows for self-modifying chips. It takes the technology in the chip process--which has been there for some time and allows for the testing of different paths--and adds some very innovative, new science that uses a variety of criteria so the chip can be modified. This is in the Power5 chips coming out. You could actually change the circuit design based on environmental attributes that could relate to temperature, voltage and performance aspects. It could sense a different environment that the chip has been placed into and change the circuitry to adapt to that environment. This is a pretty amazing thing and is in the chip technology. It would allow performance problems to be encapsulated and handled in the hardware and not require any intervention.

CRN: What else have you been working on?

GANEK: We found that one of the difficulties in the system is that there is no instrument in a uniform way. Particularly in today's world, applications are really isolated to any one server stack or hardware that the applications are implemented on. But those applications touch a whole set of islands of computational capability. When you go to debug a problem, it is hard sometimes to figure out which island of capability has the problem. The tools tend to be different across all those platforms.

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