RealTime IT News

The Healing Powers of eLiza

Since April, IBM's project of self-maintaining machines has gotten a bit lost with all of the pomp swirling around Big Blue's midrange servers, and in the last month, the powerful Regatta.

But on Halloween, IBM Corp. plans to fill in what to this point has been a rough sketch of "Project eLiza", an initiative to make complex server environments more manageable, which analysts expect will improve availability and security, and possibly lower cost of ownership.

IBM, in fact, has already introduced some subtle features of eLiza in its e-Server xSeries (Summit Architecture) and pSeries (Regatta). Functions of eLiza on those systems include self-optimization, self-configuration, self-protection and self-healing. And lest readers be shaking their heads in confusion, IBM has actually made an analogy to compare those functions -- a rather corporeal one at that.

"Run to catch a taxi and your autonomic nervous system raises your respiration rate, adjusts your heart rhythm, and increases your energy levels," IBM wrote on its site. "Our body manages these functions autonomically. We don't give it a second thought; in fact, our minds are probably on work or home, on the more significant things."

eLiza can be compared to such self-regulation processes, the company said.

Research firm Gartner Inc. contemplated eLiza ealier this month, noting that it would be difficult to gauge eLiza's effect on server systems and value to businesses until more products are available.

"eLiza is not just about hardware, such as partitioning, but has a great deal of software function as well, including clustering, workload management and security," wrote Gartner Midrange & Unix Strategy analyst Jim Cassell in a research note. "This announcement has begun to fill in the gaps for software functions across the eServer platforms."

IBM has also hinted at eLiza's future, pledging to commit 25 percent of research and development, which could yield such capabilities as end-to-end automation, authentication and management of distributed applications' performance over the next few years.

While Cassell viewed eLiza as a potentially strong value-add to IBM's servers, it stressed that this is by no means a sure bet in its joust for server supremacy with the likes of Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. To succeed, he said, IBM must deliver fresh eLiza features every six months to differentiate from its competitors.

"Despite its benefits, however, eLiza will not guarantee a win against the competition, which is working to deliver many of the same functions," Cassell said. "To differentiate its offerings clearly, IBM must quantify the value of eLiza for specific enterprise environments."