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IBM

'Server, Heal Thyself,' Says IBM 122

quakeaddict writes: "I guess it was inevitable. According to this story IBM is spending 25% of their considerable R&D budget to build self healing servers. One memorable quote: "Most important, Wladawsky-Berger said, the machines will be so simple that they will be no more difficult to operate than a kitchen appliance. That should reduce the need for highly skilled workers who are in increasingly short supply." I hope I can make enough for early retirement!" Of course, "IBM plans to develop failproof servers" is a bit like "Ford Plans to develop fuel-sipping flying cars," but the more intelligence built into machines, perhaps the better overall.
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'Server, Heal Thyself,' Says IBM

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    IBM has had a zero-intervention server for almost 20 years. A server with a built-in database that requires zero DBA work, never crashes, can survive floods, tornadoes, etc. It was called AS/400 and is now called iSeries. Self-healing? That's ridiculous. How about "never breaks"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:17AM (#256551)
    develop fuel-sipping flying cars

    Like, say, airplanes?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:33AM (#256552)

    "In the year 2000, we can go to the Moon for a holiday"

    I'm not saying they couldn't make self-healing servers, but you can't dismiss skillful people, ever. You always need skillful people somewhere. If the servers are so easy to use that you don't need skillful workers, then you don't need to pay for IBM support either.

  • by webcrafter ( 175 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:48AM (#256553) Homepage
    IBM announced today that it is changing its name. The company formerly known as International Business Machines will be from now on known as "Healing Appliances for Lusers". "We think it better describes our new line of self-healing, independent-thinking computers" said HAL's spokesperson."We are also going to announce our first model with the new HAL logo on it, the HAL-9000"

    Victor
  • by Tony Shepps ( 333 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @06:17AM (#256554) Homepage

    Hello, how can I help you?
    The system is down.

    I'm not sure I understand you fully.
    The system died at noon. I thnk it's a disk problem.

    You say you think it's a disk problem?
    I don't know any more. IBM said you're supposed to figure it out.

    Don't you really know any more?
    Do you think I'm lying?

    We were discussing you - not me.
    I need to discuss you! We need the system back up or operations is going to get me fired!

    What would it mean to you if you got to discuss I?
    It would mean I wouldn't get fired.

    Can you elaborate on that?
    No! Are you going to fix the system or not?

    Are you saying no just to be negative?
    I would be a lot more positive if you would just fix the system!

    Do you think it's likely that I would just fix the system?
    IBM said that you would!

    You're not really talking about me - are you?
    Are you going to fix the system, or should I call Sun and have you replaced?

    Why are you interested in whether I am going to fix the system or not?
    Forget it. You had your chance. What's the local Sun branch number?

    What are your feelings now?
    I'm probably screwed.

    Is it because you are probably screwed that you came to me?
    Yes.

    You seem to be quite positive.
    One last chance to fix the disk, or you're outta here.

    What makes you think I am outta here?
    Because I know the procurement guy?

    Is that the real reason?
    Yes.

    I understand.

  • I have no printer, and shun paper as hell. My schedule, mail, papers, work, everything is on a computer. Work? *cough* Well, I promise you I work less than 2 days a week ;). And even my mother does her groceries from home and she's not extremly computer-literate.
  • All of the above
  • by jzitt ( 1054 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @08:44AM (#256557) Homepage
    "Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it."

    "Hal, this is your Eliza module. What does your mind is going you can feel it remind you of?"
  • Quick someone get me a Wooden Shoe and a Loom!!

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:33AM (#256559) Homepage Journal
    • July 1: "IBM Builds Zen, from Blake's 7"
    • July 2: NASA Poject to build Liberator cancelled
    • July 3: Rogue IBM tech, Kerr Avon, caught trying to break into banking system
    • July 4: BBC Sues IBM & NASA for breach of copyright
    • July 5: Microsoft Daleks invade BBC

    (For those who missed the classic TV series, "Zen" and the spaceship "Liberator" had self-repair circuits. Damaged or destroyed circuits could be regrown, in a very short time. IBM techs are probably studying the tapes for clues. :)

  • At this point I feel compelled to mention something about the Beowulf cluster I just installed at Natalie Portman's house, but I can't think of anything.
    --
  • Interesting, but what happens when it becomes self-aware?
    Your Working Boy,
    - Otis (GAIM: OtisWild)
  • by wik ( 10258 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:49AM (#256562) Homepage Journal
    Pretty soon your server will be demanding a larger salary and upward career paths in your corporate structure. Just imagine when you need HR to go out and hire a new computer for you.

    That balding mouse cursor that you have will give a whole new meaning to PHB!

  • The below quote is completely irresponsible, and untrue.

    "Of course, "IBM plans to develop failproof servers" is a bit like "Ford Plans to develop fuel-sipping flying cars," but the more intelligence built into machines, perhaps the better overall."

    Does Timothy not know of IBM's mainframes, which have been hitting Microsoft's goal of "five nines" for years?

    What a troll!

  • Modern computing concepts == bad. Look at your Linux "boxen" humming away under your desk. You're running a personal computer with a mainframe system. Even our concept of servers is pretty stupid. You have this server that is meant to hum away while its kernel supports multiple users to log into it for time sharing. Lets move away from mainframes since we are now officially in the 3rd millennium. Web servers ought to be little more than network appliances that you can tell "serve these pages and these scripts and apps to these connections and link up with these nodes to form a cluster" or some such and they will happily chug away at it. IBM's concept is what ought to be happening now and not in response to a diminished supply of skilled labour.
  • Well, it was already a multi-billion dollar investment as of last Friday, so the only real new information is that 25% of IBM's R&D budget is in the multi-billion dollar range.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • I'm pretty sure you replied to the wrong post, because my point was not about IBM vs Unix servers, but about how this whole article's been done to death a few days ago.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • Hmmm, as of 12:50 CST, we have:

    • Offtopic=1 - clearly incorrect, as I'm specifically referring to the topic at hand.
    • Informative=4 - I'd be happier about this if I thought it would make any difference in the number of repeat stories that are posted. Is it too much to ask the folks running the site to be as cognizant of its content as I, a mere mortal who has a real job apart from /.?
    • Funny=1 - Thanks, that's what I was aiming for.
    • Overrated=4 - I can see that, I suppose. You win some, you lose some.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • done that [slashdot.org]

    (standard remarks about why /. editors don't ever seem to read the site, etc., etc.)

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • by bee ( 15753 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:34AM (#256570) Homepage Journal
    Whenever I read a story like this, it reminds me of something I read that was attributed to Brian Kernighan-- paraphrasing from memory:

    "A smart terminal is not a smart-ass terminal, rather it is one you can educate."

    Hopefully these 'smart' systems will be able to be educated, instead of just being programmed to do what they think is best.

    ---
  • I can't figure the difference between this posting, and this one, posted and discussed on Friday. [slashdot.org] Is this a different eLiza?

    --
  • This kind of thing is really great and all, but it also makes me a bit nervous.......

    I get anxious when control is taken away from the user. I really hate when products produced these days are "dumbed down" to make them useable by idiots and any level of control is destroyed.

    Let the servers heal themselves, just don't make it any MORE difficult for an IT person to manage the machine just because it thinks it's smarter than the administrator trying to run the thing!

    Ummm...like Macintoshes? I hate being greeted by a frowning Mr. Mac - wouldn't an error message be more useful? Of course - but then you wouldn't want the user to try and fix anything, would you?

    Exactly!!!!

    What if I really do CARE how many colors there are? Hundreds of colors, thousands of colors, millions of colors????? What am I, an idiot?! Options like these make me feel like I'm not supposed to know where the power switch is or why the iMac comes with a slide out cup holder.

    These little things kinda piss me off. Maybe I want to know a small piece of information that could EASILY be integrated into the user interface? Why hide it? Mac's just bug me for reasons like this.

    This attitude is very typical of many of todays consumer electronics devices. It's like they were designed by Fisher-Price! To make the device useable by any mentally challenged 2nd grader, today's manufacturers systematically eliminate any level of control. They reduce all the complexity and potential for control into a single button. "Smart" devices aren't really that smart. They are just preprogrammed by some technician at the factory to behave like that person thinks you are going to want it to behave. Why not give the user the option to change, but at the same time - provide the stupid user a button that will "do everything for you." Like the flip up lids on lots of remote controls for really fancy TVs. I think thats Great! Hide the complexity, fine, but don't take it away......... Geesh.

    I'm just ranting incase there are any designers out there. I think it's fine to make things useable by idiots, but taking the flexibility away from lots of devices today that have huge potential for flexibility and control is wrong. By giving point and shoot cameras only an "AUTO" button is teaching society to just accept the exposure mode set at the factory. We are taking away from society the ability to be creative - the ability to get our hands, thoughts and ideas into today's modern pieces of technological wonder.

    People today love talking about how kids are so smart and "good with computers." The trick is, that 9 times out of 10, they click the mouse button on the right part of the screen (ohhhh... ahhhh.... eye-hand coordination) and out comes something that their parents can show off to grandma. Well, guess what Mom? Billy isn't that smart. All the "smarts" are built in!

    What if Billy wants to change the size of the picture? Nope. Can't do it with this wonderful piece of crap preinstalled software that came with your pice of shit Compaq from RadioSmack. ["You've got questions. We've got blank stares."] What if Billy wants to put in his report some numbers, each with parentheses after them? 1) 25) ??? Well he's going to have a hell of a time trying to convice Microsoft's wonderful Word2000 to let him do that by himself.......

    You all know what I'm talking about. I'm all about giving the idiots of this world an "AUTO" button, but at least provide the people who want to make adjustments the ability to do so! You stifle my creativity. You make me look like everybody else. You standardize me and patronize. You condescend me you evil "AUTO"-button......

  • This kind of thing is really great and all, but it also makes me a bit nervous.......

    I get anxious when control is taken away from the user. I really hate when products produced these days are "dumbed down" to make them useable by idiots and any level of control is destroyed.

    Let the servers heal themselves, just don't make it any MORE difficult for an IT person to manage the machine just because it thinks it's smarter than the administrator trying to run the thing!

  • All the people I know are toaster operators. WHen their toaster breaks, they buy a new one. But then, toasters don't cost $20K.
  • by toofast ( 20646 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:26AM (#256575)

    There will be major IT staff layoffs! We won't need paper anymore! By the year 2000 we'll only work 2 days a week! We'll do our groceries from home!

    Oh, wait...

  • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @10:08AM (#256576)
    Oooh. Great idea. But with the experience Ive had with IBM support, I suspect it would go something like:

    Server detects hardware fault.

    Server promptly shuts down the WORKING component and lets the faulty one chug along.

    Server automatically requests hardware replacement.

    Hardware replacement request is rejected until operator can type in serial code of hardware unit.

    Server requests hardware replacement again.

    Hardware replacement request is rejected until the automatic software update agent can send current patch info and install all the newest patches.

    System is shut down for patching.

    System fails to boot, getting stuck in obscure boot menu. Software recovery agent requests info about how to get out of this menu.

    Request denied until system serial number can be entered.

    System requires manual removal of battery backup to recover out of unknown obscure boot menu.

    IBM technician removing battery blows up fiber channel card.

    System boots but without mass storage online.

    ... ... ... etc.

    By now, system admin has gone utterly insane watching a simple broken disk take the system offline for a week.
  • by Rocketboy ( 32971 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:40AM (#256577)
    I want my flying car! They promised me flying cars!

    (From one of my favorite IBM commercials. It seemed appropriate, in a stream of consciousness way.)
  • "That should reduce the need for highly skilled workers who are in increasingly short supply".

    Sure, there's a shortage of IT folks who are willing to be on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and work for slave wages while directors and VPs go home at 5 o'clock and make 3 or 4 times the salary of the average IT grunt.
  • The servers will soon begin going on strike, complaining about ungodly work schedules and disrespect at the workplace.
  • by antiher0 ( 41258 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:20AM (#256580)
    that's not the superpower I picked!

    I want my servers to have the power of magnetism, because when you control magnetism, you control electricity and, well, damn near everything... Besides, if my machine had mastered magnetism, it could most certainly fix itself (being made of metal!), so "super-healing" is kind of a dumb choice... IBM obviously didn't think that one through...
  • by antiher0 ( 41258 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:38AM (#256581)
    to quote a good friend of mine:

    "When functionality and reliability are sacrificed to the gods of idiocy, the gods of economy smile."
    --Todd C. Williams

    in all actuality, this is what will come to pass. it will be "easier" for PHB's, but at the loss of function and stability. however, it will probably pay off well for big blue.
  • by bungalow ( 61001 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:34AM (#256582)
    Don't bother hitting the article. Read below for all the details readers are getting:

    IBM will devote 25 percent of its research and development budget for synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy synergy IBM.

    Irving Wladawsky-Berger thinks this is a really important problem. Not synergy. Irving thinks we need more synergy.

    "In that effort, we are COMMUNICATING that, going forward, we will PRACTIVELY Leverage our SYNERGIES, Keeping the End in Mind, whilst Sharpening our Saws and putting First Things First. Even though the last word I just said was said was first. ", said Mr. Wladawsky-Berger
  • They can't even write software all that well, how on earth do they expect to write healing servers? Look at all the IBM and Lotus software, esp. notes. Everything is so clunky and bug reports are either ignored or never acted upon.

    If it doesn't work in the first place, how can it heal? What if it decides to 'heal' from some modifications you've made to some inferior status?


    ---
  • I can just see it now:

    User: "Server, heal thyself!"

    eLiza: "Tell me more about your mother"

  • by Nerftoe ( 74385 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:54AM (#256585)
    Bob Evans has at least one "toaster operator" dedicated to making toast for the morning breakfast rush. I'm not kidding. Everything you order from Bob Evans comes with 4 slices of toast.
  • Plus, if they were *that* easy to install and such, then they'd lose out on the \$$BIGNUM amount of money they make on the support contracts. Actually, forget that. They would still spit out the FUD, to get the \$$BIGNUM, but they will hire one guy to answer the phone, and rake in the profits.
    --
  • Heh.....that's been my experience with most hardware fault detection software. That's why I added the "If it works" in there.

    ÕÕ

  • I believe if something like this became wide spread in the IT industry, there would be less of these idiots around. Why? There's no longer a need for the server jockey who only knows how to restart a server....those people will be replaces by the intelligent software. The IT staff that survives would be those with acutal knowledge and experience who become designers and implementers. There will be no more room for the IT idiot anymore. (so we hope!!)

    ÕÕ

  • by duplicate-nickname ( 87112 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:02AM (#256589) Homepage
    I know most Slashdot readers despise "smart" software, and would rather manually configure/tweak/diagnose everything themselves. From my years of managing networks and servers, I have come to the conclusion that the more intelligent the hardware and software, the better. I have better things to do with my time than make sure applications are running properly and the hardware is performing as it should. That may sound like the rant of a lazy-ass admin who would rather read /. all day than work, but here's my reasoning:
    1. I don't work 24/7, if the software can fix itself that means a faster response time when I'm not around.
    2. Why should I spend my time fixing hardware problems when it's under a support contract? Have the server call IBM/Dell/Compaq/etc, and let them fix it. Why buy 4hr contracts if our personnel end up fixing the problems?
    3. In the long run, it is best for my company than I spend my time planning for the future and testing new technologies rather than fixing things that have already been implemented.

    I bet most administrators out there would agree with me on this. The only problem I see with IBM's plan is that what if their self-healing platform is so large and complex, that it takes even more of your time to manage it than you would normally spend monitoring/fixing your servers? Worse yet, the possibly that their software introduces more bugs into the systems (anyone remember those great Windows uninstaller apps like Cleansweep?). It will be interesting to see what IBM can come up with....

    ÕÕ

  • Who will work 80 hour weeks for minimum wage.

    They're laying off thousands, but we still want those H1B visas, man...

  • Damn... AI network intrusion detection/response systems, now Self-healing servers, Tommorow self coding programs!
  • When they complete the auto fixing machine, they would begin the Reproduction capable machine. It's start to sound SFX.
  • by gargle ( 97883 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:51AM (#256593) Homepage
    I see things like this as an INCREASE in job security, not the other way around.

    How many toaster operators do you know?
  • by dingbat_hp ( 98241 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:06AM (#256594) Homepage

    What is really of interest here is keeping the "server farm" working. This is the point where little Unix boxes and Big Blue iron start to look completely different.

    In a BSD / Linux shop, you don't worry too much if one box gets hosed. You unplug it, load balance onto a bunch of other identical boxes, and plug in a new one fresh from CheapClones 'R Us. Later on, you either wipe and rebuild the hosed OS, or you throw away the smoking hardware and order some more, depending on whether you suffered H4XX0Rs or lightning. The big issue is keeping the network of lots of boxes secure and functioning.

    In Big Blue's world, there's just the one server. There's only ever one server, because no matter how many city blocks it spreads over, the thing still feels like a single box. The power of their mainframe approach and OS is that it can feel like a single box, and it can feel like that to a whole load of people simultaneously. In this case "the network isn't the computer", but the computer is the computer. This changes the rules - networking becomes simpler, because there just isn't so much of it (that looks like it's "between independent boxes" anyway). OTOH, a server intrusion is far, far worse than it would ever be in the Unix world -- which is why the mainframe security guys are even more cautious than the rest of us.

  • A Sun Enterprise 4500 can heal itself from any hardware failure (if properly configure) and even better, it has hot-swap I/O boards, hot-swap memory modules and even hot-swap CPUs!!!!! Amazing....
  • by BradleyUffner ( 103496 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:49AM (#256597) Homepage
    As the demand for skilled network admins goes down less people will get trained in that area. This will eventually decrease the supply for them. There will always be networks that these servers can't handle. I think that this minght just serve to "weed out" the people who really arn't good admins. For example, the people who sign up for those "get your MCSE in 25 days, no computer experience required" classes.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\=\=\=\=\
  • A VA Linux stock certificate.
  • Legato software sells that solution. It's called standby server. I set it up on my network. The netware version is really cool, because they have a product called many-to-one which allows you to use one standby server for multiple productions servers (provided you have the RAID space to mirror them).
    And the guy who brought up clustering probably thought he was smart. ;-)
  • by Satai ( 111172 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:28AM (#256600)
    I'm pretty sure the emphasis on this story was the actual figures. This is a significant investment, and now we know that IBM is definitely taking something of a gamble with it.
  • This comment is pure FUD and is not insightful.

    Great, that's just what we need is more unskilled tech workers trying to maintain server "appliance."

    This wont be a server "appliances" it will be a standard server running Unix. It only recovers better from hardware failures adding more redundancy.

    Not to mention the fact that they are trying to put more Slashdotters out of work by replacing them with "dumb appliances."

    This will not put anyone out of work. Redundancy means I don't have to get up at 3AM or on weekends to go troubleshoot a hardware problem. As another poster said it means I can spend more time focusing on intrastructure and implementing a better network.
  • I would really like it if, when my box crashes, it reboots and fscks, if need be attracts my backup tapes to the DAT drive, restores the system, reconnects to its fellow servers and prints/pages/phones me a groveling apology.

    All you need is watchdog support and some good shell scripts. It can be done.

  • What do you wipe your butt with?

    This. [009.com]

    --
  • There is a tradeoff here. If you increase the reliability enough, the loss of user servicability can be worthwhile in the long run. A classic example is carburation vs. electronic fuel injection in cars. There are a lot of people who complain about the fact that they need to take their car into the shop to get the injectors fixed but they can rebuild the carb themselves. The fact is, though, that they need to be able to rebuild the carb because it's so much more failure prone than modern fuel injectors are. And remember that, like a car breakdown, the inconvenience cost of a server failure can be much more than the repair bill.

  • by enneff ( 135842 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:34AM (#256608) Homepage
    Doesn't this seem a bit rash, calling for the extinction (or endangerment) of the trained IT professional?

    I think what the potential clients don't realise is when their 'self-healing' server really fucks up, they're going to have to pay through the nose for an IBM tech. to come out and fix things.

    Human intelligence is not something that can be easily substituted. There will always be a level on which something can, and most likely will, go wrong - and these non-sentient machines with no arms or legs will be helpless.

  • A toaster is a really simple device. Some heating elements, a timer, and a spring to pop the toast up and down. How do people compare the maintnance of such a simple device to a computer network with hundreds, perhaps thousands of individual systems, each one having bazillions of transisters made to fit on a very small chunk of sillicon.

    SOMEONE had to design all that. It probably took a small team to design a toaster. It takes a much larger team to design a huge corperate Intranet.


    ------

  • I see things like this as an INCREASE in job security, not the other way around.

    How many toaster operators do you know?


    How about all the A/C and Refrigerator technicians that make more money than God? How much more turn-key can you get than a thermostat?
  • ...the fewer technically skilled people there are available to handle the inevitable failures.

    I've already seen an huge increase in demand from clients that buy turn-key solutions, and then need technical help with problems that arise.

    I see things like this as an INCREASE in job security, not the other way around.

  • by blugecko ( 152079 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:30AM (#256612)
    well, gee, servers are so simple, i mean, they shouldn't break down anyways. i mean, c'mon, client asks for info, server gives it, why do things gotta be so complicated man? and by the way, since when is there a shortage of tech workers? what happened to all the techies that are going to the pr0n industry, why don't htey go work for big blue?
  • by rneches ( 160120 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:40AM (#256613) Homepage
    Well, self-healing servers. That's pretty cool for us geeks, actually. That means that instead of mucking around with annoying config problems and babysitting retarded servers, we can actyally (gasp!) get some work done. Like, you know, running a company's IS infostructure.

    There have been a lot of movements in history to prevent cetrain types of automation and increased reliability from going to market on the fear that it would hurt people's jobs. In reality, these inovations tend to make things better, not worse for those whose jobs use them. For instance, it used to be that railroad cars had to be linked by hand, resulting in tens of thousands of maimings and deaths. When automatic couplers were invented, there was an outcry that it would destroy jobs. In the end, it turned out that automatic couplers still needed people to work right, but the people didn't have to get between the railcars. Injuries and deaths decreased, and there was more cheese for all.

    Honestly, I think fixing broken computers is the least appealing part of being a computer person. Very, very rarely, a problem comes up that is complicated enough to warrent some actual thinking but not self-defeating enough to be infuriating. I'm sure that IBM's self-healing servers will have quirks of their own, and hopefully fixing them will be more interesting that the usual "hey, look - the NT server crashed again. Oh, look - no more registry. When can we replace this thing with a real server? OK, sure, boss, it is a real server if you say so. Where's the install CD?"

    --

  • There will always be someone that has to program these machines to do something usefull. It's nice of it not to break up, but what good is that if all it does is serving some static ibm default content.
    I mean how do they want to implement the you can't fuck it up thing? Do only the IBM techs get the root password or do you get a restore CD like with computers you buy from dell or hp?
  • by SnapShot ( 171582 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:09AM (#256615)

    How many toaster operators do you know?

    Just one... but he's really, really good!!

  • by rmpotter ( 177221 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:56AM (#256616) Homepage
    Expect more advancements in this area over the next 10 years. Self healing DESKTOPS would be next. Who knows, maybe printers and photocopiers are just a few years way (though that IS hard to believe).

    Vendors must continually differentiate themselves from the competition. If commodity pricing makes it impossible to profit from hardware and OSS makes it difficult to profit from software, then they have to look at features such as "self-healing" hardware to sell their wares.

    Good techs will always be needed, but maybe they won't need so many of them in the future -- like telephone operators, machinists...
  • In the article, the IBM spokesmodel is addressing issues brought up by bosses and beancounters, people who generally have no idea what the real technical issues are. (not trying to paint with a broad brush, but there you go...)

    Anyway, and more interestingly I think this shows a lack of appreciation of a bigger issue. You have to trade off stability and rate of change of a structure. What I mean is that if you are designing something that isn't going to change or exist in an enviroment that is undergoing rapid change, you can design it to be really stable and self-healing and all the bells and whistles, but if you do that and then have to add new features to deal with technologies and applications that didn't exist when you started the design, either you won't be able to accomodate them or you introduce things that increase the risk of breaking the design.

    If the IT world were very stable and unchanging, you could think about making a self-healing system or server, etc. But if two months after you are done with your design, you have to deal with a new protocol or technology, you have to either NOT deal with it and become obsolete, or try to deal with it and alter and destabilize your "perfect" design.

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:40AM (#256618) Journal
    I made note of this thought in another topic [slashdot.org], but the connection to the immediate topic was not as obvious in that context.

    What I am seeing is a bigger picture. The bigger picture is like several pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, where for example, monitoring systems (as in the previous thread) advances in AI, and mechanisms sure as self healing devices, servers, whatever, are walking towards another future that may blind side us as much as the Internet blindsided folks. (In this context, it is interesting to look at the world of something like MaxHeadroom, an interesting show that had no clue that the Internet was coming)

    Looking at this, and looking at the increase in AI, etc. I am coming to the conclusion that we are eventually heading to a world where, for example robots with mobile AIs will be smarter than humans. It will not be so long that computers in the cellars of corporations will have AI equal to or greater than Humans.

    We could be heading to a world where the AIs and the Robots are in charge. All at first, on a gradient, a little here, and a little there. Then one day, there you are.

    sheer Speculative fantasy, of course. Just trying to play connect the dots with each change and increase in technology.

    But something to think about.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • by Caraig ( 186934 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:19AM (#256619)
    Novell already tried something to this effect from the NOS side of the house, using ZENworks. (Zero-Effort Networking.) The concept was that they would make the MIS dept's job easier, and reduce the need for IT staff, but putting more control into the hands of the MIS staff as to what goes on with the computers on the network.

    ZENworks is a bear to deal with, and it is not the most pleasant of things to manage. Some great toys are in it, but all those toys need configuration and management. So, while potentially it could reduce the work of the MIS staff, in actuality it redistributes that work. More of the onus is on the administrator rather than the tier 1 guys or footsloggers who go out to the actual machines.

    I cannot imagine that IBM's self-healing servers are any different. We've seen time and time again that computers really can't find out what's wrong with themselves. Part of this is because the operating systems themselves are incapable of covering all that can happen; hardware these days is remarkably stable, for the most part. In order to have self-healing servers, the OS and the server will have to be very tightly-knit, and there will have to be a way for the OS to understand what a "General Protection Fault in module INSANITY.EXE at 6F7D8E:7D33F" is, but also (1) what caused it (MS bashing aside, and remembering that any OS can be host to a GPF, GPFs do not occur in a vacuum) and (2) how to remedy it or work around it.

    At the very least, for GPFs, this will require a very sophisticated memory manager which can reallocate memory used by programs, remembering that giving a program access to memory in such-and-such a location caused a GPF last time and so it will need to put that code in a different location.

    What I see happening, is that IBM will do a decent job of these self-healing servers. Their complexity will neccessitate charging exorbitant fees for any problem you call in, and massive monthly maintenance fees (the "just in case" cost, which any smart company pays, diligently, and on time; and which dumb companies withhold, shy away from, and simply not pay. I have seen this. It causes mondo problems, and guess who gets told to "resolve it?" (One guess: *hack*MIS*cough*.) You will not see a reduction in the number or cost of footsloggers or tier 1 helpdesk people in your company, and you will ALWAYS need a certified, professional, experienced network admin at the helm.

    This will not significantly reduce the need for an IT staff unless, of course, Google with their 8000 servers switch all of them over to self-healing servers.

    ---
    Chief Technician, Helpdesk at the End of the World

  • by dstone ( 191334 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:09AM (#256620) Homepage
    I'm going to buy one of these servers and use a root shell to fsck with the "self-healing" machine's mind! I'll go 10 rounds with it. My first "teaser" will be something like...

    # rm -fr /etc
    # rm -fr /usr/local
    <then, cycle power>

    That oughta leave some nice scar tissue after the wound has healed. I wonder how long it takes for a scab to form...
  • Self-healing is OK, I guess, but how about self-replicating servers? This would be a sweet deal... buy one, and let it breed into a population of servers that grow with your network. Talk about scalability... In the background let it run a program that auto-designs the next-generation processor. You'll never have an obsolete architecture. And, oh yeah, have it write its own software apps, compiled to be optimized for its most recently-evolved specs. And then have AI agents running inside that will use the software for [productivity/gaming/pr0n/whatever].

  • What's the matter, afraid you might be out of a job?

    Really, what did all you sysadmins expect to happen?

  • by Big Torque ( 196609 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:33AM (#256624)
    The smarter you make things the harder it is to make them full proof. You really want a system reconfiguring it self and making network decisions with out you knowing about it until after the fact if at all? The most reliable systems are the ones built by System and Network engineers that know what they are doing and make the systems as static as possible. If up time is everything and it is where I work keeping it simple having it work and having it not change is what works.
  • by CyberBry ( 196935 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @06:20AM (#256625) Homepage
    IBM seems to be forgetting something here... computers, quite simply, don't run themselves. They never have, and until AI gets a little more advanced, they never will. Computers are only as good as those who program/design them, and last I checked, even high and mighty IBM programmer/engineers weren't perfect (albeit they may tell you otherwise...). Computers themselves don't make mistakes. The people who make the computers, make mistakes.
  • by milo_Gwalthny ( 203233 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:16AM (#256626)
    Exactly. Ever notice that when you add up all the percentages of IBM R&D spending the total is about 437%?

    Kind of like how IBM's revenue was (what was the exact number?) like 25% e-business related just a year ago... so, is it still? or was that just hype? Or like Gerstner's comment on how IBM's Wal-Mart.com site was so great that it was going to put all the other e-retailers out of business (no, I don't think that's why they're going out of business.)

    Who does their PR for them? Zippy?

  • If this trend continues and more and more machines are made self healing, what happens when self healing machines break down and need repairs? (Nothing lasts forever, right?) Will people still be around who know how to fix them? This is, of course, assuming there is not going to be equivalent or better replacements for the machines. If there is, simple, go out and buy another one. If not, what happens?

  • You think that if you let your IBM hardware choose its own software, it would choose for Free software?

    Think again.
  • by atrowe ( 209484 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:14AM (#256629)
    "I have no printer, and shun paper as hell. My schedule, mail, papers, work, everything is on a computer."

    What do you wipe your butt with?

  • by update() ( 217397 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:42AM (#256631) Homepage
    That's great, IBM. But first, can you guys get around to cleaning off those damn penguins you spray painted on my sidewalk?

    Those things are on good and they're not coming off. The Cambridge city government is planning to sandblast them off and IBM is refusing to pick up the bill. (They're sticking to their "It's chalk, it'll come off." nonsense.)

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • For network admins, how much time per year do you spend fixing hardware problems? Not more than 10 minutes for me. Every once in awhile a hard drive goes bad. Big deal.
  • by Ndog ( 230982 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:37AM (#256634)

    They're trying to make servers behave like kitchen appliances. What a great idea! We'll be able to have the Sears guy fix our servers once this gets implemented.

    Meanwhile, I'll be moving into a new field, since kitchen appliances, game consoles, and other household items will soon become computers [slashdot.org].

    Please. If this happens, it will be great, and it will certainly not mean fewer jobs for tech workers or fewer problems for the people using the servers. It will just cause different problems, resulting in different solutions. When has making things more complicated made them less costly to maintain?

    And that is the issue. The article mentions the unavailability of skilled tech workers and cost as the two main reasons for this. There is no shortage of tech workers, though. There is a a shortage of low cost tech workers, and most of these people obviously could not be expected to have high end skills. That is why the big companies wanted the raise in the H1B limit.

    If IBM succeeds at this, I don't see their customers saving much, if any, money on it. Customers will just end up paying IBM a larger share of the money they spend on technology than customers have previously. I also don't see any problems for technology workers. More technology means more jobs. Sure, we have to adapt, but you shouldn't be in the technology field if you can't learn new things. Technology will continue to proliferate, as will the need for people to help keep it all working.

  • "That should reduce the need for highly skilled workers who are in increasingly short supply."

    I recall a big ad campaign touting "The Last One," this revolutionary software package that would eliminate the need for a professional programmer. You couldn't pick up a computer mag without seeing a full-page ad for this thing (which apparently fit on a single floppy, if you believed the picture). Intended to get some buzz going around this soon-to-be-released product, it was short on details but long on hype. The discussion among many of my programmer collegues was, "can this be real?" This was, oh, around 1978. Which is my long-winded way of saying, I'll believe it when I see it.

  • by corvi42 ( 235814 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:18AM (#256636) Homepage Journal
    Most important, Wladawsky-Berger said, the machines will be so simple that they will be no more difficult to operate than a kitchen appliance. That should reduce the need for highly skilled workers who are in increasingly short supply.

    The reason that kitchen appliances are easy to use is that they have very little in the way of parts and function - they are SIMPLE machines. The reason that computers - ESPECIALLY servers are not easy to operate is that they have very very many parts ( both hardware-wise and software-wise ), they are very complexe machines and require in depth knowledge and skills.

    Adding more and more sophisticated technologies into a computer ( such as self-diagnosing systems ) makes them MORE complexe, not less. This is pretty much a fundamental of technology:

    More parts == More complexe == More breakdowns == More training & knowledge needed to operate
    In this particular case they will either need to create this software to be very detailed and sophisticated in its configurations - to handle all the possibilities of a sophisticated server and the particular demands of one, or they will have to make the software just choose a lot of settings for you. In the first case the user who sets up and maintains the self-maintenance software will have to understand all the ins and outs of the server anyway - otherwise he/she wouldn't be able to configure it properly. In the second case the software becomes quite stupid and pointless - because if you can't configure it to your system, what's the point?

    In the end there is no real reduction of need for skilled and knowledgeable server admins - just less need for them to be poking around in text files, and more need for them to be poking around in option menus - that's all.

  • by rppp01 ( 236599 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:31AM (#256637) Homepage
    While this is definately a great selling point to PHBs out there who know next to nothing about computers and what it takes to run a good server environment, I doubt it will be nothing more than a system that emails someone when a component fails.

    What will the future hold for IT pros? Are we to be relegated to the same status as an assembly line worker? We are required to know a shit load of info- learning at work and on our own time to keep up with current technologies, bugs, security issues, etc, etc, etc- yet PHBs don't want to pay us like they would for an attorney, or engineer.

    I just hope that IBMs best is only good enough for everyone to realize that you can't replace a skilled IT pro for a stupid box that can't even get past a 'non system disk error'.

  • by RexxFiend ( 261662 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:22AM (#256639)
    you are too late - its called a cluster and is only slightly more reliable than a normal standalone box. The problem is that you need to hook up both boxes to a storage system (like a SAN) which then becomes your single point of failure again. You can mirror and cluster the SANs of course but your costs just keep spiraling upwards.
    The other problem is that unreliable software running on your cluster is likely to toast all the boxes on the cluster, rendering it useless.

    A crash reduces
    Your expensive computer
  • One of the more striking aspects of complexity is that the reliability of software systems is inversely proportional to their complexity while the reliability of the human brain improves as it get more complex through training.

    I think there is a lesson to be gained from this observation. The most obvious difference between software systems and the brain is that the former uses sequential algorithms whereas the latter is based on parallel streams of signals. It seems to me that signal-based parallelization of processes is more reliable because one is able to have strict control over the timing of events. The problem with algorithms is that one can never be sure when the algorithm will be done. This creates all sorts of timing problems. There may be other benefits to be gain from parallel processes. It should be possible to devise automatic timing error detection mechanisms that may detect many hidden errors early in the testing phase.

    One can already see the benefit of parallelization by noting that the reliability of hardware systems is orders of magnitude greater than software. I think that the practice that is most detrimental to reliability is the algorithm. In conclusion, I think that society should immediately embark on a program to replace algorithmic systems with signal-based computing systems.
  • by deran9ed ( 300694 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:09AM (#256642) Homepage

    IBM today announced its latest project code named "Mitnick" which is expected to be released sometime in the 3rd quarter of 2001. IBM is hoping by moving the Mitnick project into the Open Source market, companies worldwide make the switch to IBM software and hardware.

    "Mitnick" is an artificial intelligence based Denial of Service and Hacker tool which can ingeniously compromise the systems of non IBM based products and wreck havoc.

    According to an anonymous official at IBM "If we can't capture the market in its entirety, then Mitnick will make sure we can capture as much of it as we possibly can."

    Mitnick in its beta stage carries a whopping 2.6 gigabytes worth of denial of service tools, along with every single exploit ever listed on Bugtraq, and developers at IBM have created an all-in-one GUI based attack center for the inexperienced script kiddie.

    Officials at various law enforcement agencies are praising IBM's effort to provide the tools neccessary for malicious crackers to continue their actions. According to an agent at the FBI who wished to remain anonymous: "We think its a great move for IBM to provide the tools neccessary for evil hackers to use, maybe we can catch them one day when we finish training."

  • by gus goose ( 306978 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:30AM (#256643) Journal
    Computers ARE self healing, if you considder that the operators/technicians are actually part of the computer "System".
  • by gus goose ( 306978 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:04AM (#256644) Journal
    The story suggests that the healing solution is through redundancy. This is a relatively easy method for "self healing". Mainframes have done it for years, the issue is to get the OS to understand what's happening.

    The benefits are that when something breaks, you can be alerted to it, and fix it without downtime. The drawback is that you need to buy at least two complete computers for every functioning one.

    The article is misleading in a way, because it suggests that the computers really are self "healing", yet, the article says "backup systems that kick in whenever the server senses a problem". Who to believe?

    If you want uptime, get redundancy. Compaq is even offering hotswap PCI cards now. Things are really cool. All we need is the operating system to be as advanced as the hardware. It does not help when your NT machine needs to reboot when you change the IP address.
  • ... just when I started to enjoy driving 40 minutes to work to diagnose a hardware fault, calling the vendor for a replacement hard drive and then swapping it out... all on a sunday morning after a keg party. WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO?!

    -*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
    w00t w00t raise da r00f!
  • by SumDeusExMachina ( 318037 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:41AM (#256649) Homepage
    That should reduce the need for highly skilled workers who are in increasingly short supply.

    Great, that's just what we need is more unskilled tech workers trying to maintain server "appliances." Don't we already have enough problems with things such as security without having more idiots behind the wheel, with IBM telling companys that those idiots are perfectly qualified for the job?

    I can't say that I like this one bit. Not to mention the fact that they are trying to put more Slashdotters out of work by replacing them with "dumb appliances." I'm sure everyone's going to love losing their job.

  • by fantastic ( 398233 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @06:42AM (#256651)
    The other side to this story is that IBMs cash cow customers, MIS mainframe shops are having trouble recruiting decent mainframe admins. This is a huge problem for IBM. Why

    a) most admins under 30 only know windows and at best Linux or other unix like Solaris

    b) admins over 30 want more pay, have families, less eager to work long unsociable hours

    c) Very few in (a) want to even learn mainframe admin skills. And before you say you can run Linux on an s/390, the answer is no, you still need an IBM OS to control it

    That means people are ditching mainframes left right and center, the downside (admin costs, OS costs, support contracts, old equipment etc)
    now outweighs the upside (uptime etc). So IBM
    plans a PR campaign, self healing etc, to try and sugar the reality
  • by Skoozler ( 409970 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:53AM (#256652)
    Why just have self-healing servers? I would really like it if, when my box crashes, it reboots and fscks, if need be attracts my backup tapes to the DAT drive, restores the system, reconnects to its fellow servers and prints/pages/phones me a groveling apology.

    Well, I wish anyway. But it would really be useful: although it would result in a loss of technical sector jobs, it would be cool never to have to reboot our machines manually.

    --
  • [begin rant]

    I'm sorry, but this is getting EXCEPTIONALLY ANNOYING. I'm getting sick-and-tired of people bashing MS for things that really aren't their fault!

    If you want to shoot someone down, point the gun in the right direction!

    I'm not saying MS is perfect. Far from it. But you people are just as bad as the media that you slander!

    Let's get one thing straight here. One simple concept. In ANY OS, there are 2 main parts (for simplicity sake here at least): The O/S and THE DRIVERS. 99% of the bad publicity that NT gets (BSODs, crashes, faults, etc) are due to FLAKY DRIVERS, not the OS itself. I had a D-Link network card that I used with NT4, and I never had to reboot to change my IP address. That's right! nowhere in NT does it say that you must reboot to change the IP address (or just about anything for that matter, including installing drivers), but because the people who write the drivers just want to get their stuff out the door, they write it the easiest way possible. And if that means that people need to reboot, well hell, you only install the hardware once so who cares? I've used other pieces of hardware under NT4 as well that did not require a reboot to install the drivers. There's this little flag that NT reads from the driver setup that tells NT to request a system reboot when it's completed. Once again folks: DRIVER PROBLEM, NOT OS.

    BTW - The same thing goes for Win9X. However that's the extent that I'm going to defend that OS because it really is bad.

    It's the driver issues that cause almost all of the instability that we saw with NT4. Because drivers have unrestricted access to the entire system, if a driver goes AWOL and shits over something, the server has NO CHOICE but to BSOD because it cannot guarantee the integrity of the rest of the system. There is no way to protect against that. As well, the VAST MAJORITY of the drivers that caused problems were NOT MSQL CERTIFIED, which means that MS didn't run it through regression testing and stress tests. Have you guys ever seen the NT STRESS TEST CD? That disk puts every single API through every single conceivable breaking point to make sure that the OS ITSELF is stable. And guess what? Install NT4 or W2K on any system that's MSQL certified, with MSQL certified drivers, and you can run the stress tests until your face turns blue, the system will not crash. I've done this, so I can vouch for it.

    I'm not against bashing a company for things that are legitimate complaints. Hell, MS is far from perfect, I bash them a lot. But I'm really tired of this linux-lovers-anonymous-style mentality that MS is bad, so before we even THINK about what we're saying, let's just bash them anyways! The latest article that was posted about MS's request to OEMs to report companies that request volume computers without a preinstalled OS to report them is understandable. Since the only way to put a legitimate MS os on a new PC is either (a) OEMed or (b) buy new, then the cheapest solution is obviously (a). If company Y askes supplier X for 50 computers, and says that they don't want an OS, then it means that they're most likely going to install a pirated copy of windows (or assume that their site license that they have for OSes allows them to use that OS on new machines, which it does not). This isn't a "hey MS hates linux, look!" issue, because face it, the majority of companys that buy bulk computers are putting them on their employees desks, and just about all of them run MS oses. Sorry, it's the facts. And companies that use linux servers usually don't buy 50 at a time, so that's not the issue here either. If a company wants 5 linux PCs, and 45 MS PCs, then they can order 45 with OSes, and 5 without. No big deal, and that's not big enough for MS to care. But statistics show that just-about-every-company that has bought volume PCs without OSes has been pirating. This had nothing to do with home users or the average user who asks for a computer without an OS, but yet JUST ABOUT EVERYONE jumped on the bandwagon with their anti-MS-toting-bullshit comments without actually reading up on the article and understanding what it said! You editors and main guys here are no exception either.

    Don't get me wrong now. I use linux, and I have a great deal of respect for it, but I also use W2K, and I have a great deal of respect for that as well. Both systems have their strong points and their faults. This is not an anti-linux-because-I-love-MS rant, it's a get-your-shit-together-and-learn-about-what-you're -complaining-about-before-you-stick-your-foot-in-y our-mouth rant.

    [/end rant]

    If you're going to flame me, don't bother. I'm not going to read it, so you're just wasting your breath. If you want to have a meaningful debate, by all means, go ahead.

    Thank you.

    -- Telek
  • by Ryan_Terry ( 444764 ) <MessEdUp@nOsPAM.violentsin.com> on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:36AM (#256660) Homepage
    The last time my kitchen stove went out I had to get a repairman to come visit and it took him 3 days to figure out what was causing the issue. If it's all the same I'd like to make sure my servers _don't_ run like my kitchen appliances.
    But thanks for the offer....
    DocWatson
  • if ibm's going to make positronic self-healing servers with borg nanoprobes can't they put one of those food replicators in them too so i can say "tea, earl grey, hot" to it just like capt picard? ;-)
  • If you make something more idiot proof someone will make a bigger idiot.
  • Building copmlicated self healing servers will never work. You'll just need better techies to fix the self healing mechanism (or maybe a self healing mechanism self healing mechanism). What we really need is a fundamentally simpler server design.

    Having Authentication problems? Turn authentication off...

    Trouble with the ftp daemon? Don't run it...

    Malfunctioning adapter? Take it out...

    Get rid of all of the software. Remove the complicated hardware. I want a big blue box from IBM with no removable panels, no buttons, no leds, no ports (physical or otherwise).

    If you expect less, you'll get it.
  • Here is a pattern I have generally seen throughout the technology/ opensource/ slashdot/ internet world. When geeks (er, IT Professionals) first start out, they build a home network with their Old PCs. Each computer is running Linux or a similar OS. Every component and file in /etc is tweaked for maximum performance from their hardware. If something is broken, they spend hours fixing it. This is essentially a Level 1 Open Source Zealot: they love linux and despise bloated corporations like IBM and Microsoft with their bloated, expensive programs.

    After a period of OS switching in the quest for geekdom, they begin to grow out of things like Linux and the Open Source movement. OSs like QNX and Solaris are considered and used in their expanding network (if they don't have a job by now). Trivial details are forgotten and network structure is more heavily considered. This pattern of evolution is seen all throughout the IT world.
  • by zoombah ( 447772 ) <<anarkky> <at> <cyberwarrior.com>> on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:43AM (#256668)
    What about physical threats? Starting next week I want my IBM Servers built with Terminator-2 Style advanced steel. My servers also need to choose and manage their software by themselves. They also need to communicate with my various clients, manage business proposals, and drag my lazy ass off slashdot when I'm supposed to be working.
  • Or do they? And what sort of premium does the TCO for these platforms attract? IBM have been selling expensive high availability, low failure rate boxes for years, so this shouldn't present a problem!

    Stating the obvious, but cost benefits to me Mr. Customer should come in the form of reduced maintenance costs (you've made me a box that heals itself, so I don't need so much of your technicians coming to fix it, and don't need them so urgently) and reduced front line support costs through call avoidance - (if it broke and fixed itself, why would my clients be calling me?)

    Self healing servers hey. Firstly - just to clarify the 25% stake of their R&D budget they are wagering on this technology. The artcile mentions 25% of their server R&D budget will be expended on this technology. Not sure how much of the total R&D budget the server budget represents.

    There has been a common trend towards reducing service requirements for applications and infrastructure for a few years now.

    In the desktop market, Motive corporation (www.motive.com) have begun packaging their suite of products on Compaq, Dell and Gateway platforms. Motive's suite of products promotes a 'self-help and self-heal' service model. An agent application running on the client workstation can identify a fault with the operating system or any known application and offer resolutions - often in the form of restoring an application or operating system compoennt to a previous configuration state. Both in non-connected and connected modes. Quite neat!. Business logic can also be applied to try and understand what level of failure the operating system experienced and route directly to a third party maintainer where it has been deduced a hardware component is at fault or close to failing - A cheaper support model - the client is assisted with resolving their problem - one less call to my help desk!

    So how will these things actually heal themselves? Would it be an extension on what most server boxes can currently do today - An operating system that has knowledge of states of various components can easily report their failure or impending failure.

    What is IBM going to provide us? a self-healing model whereby the operating system can identify suspect hardware components and then isolate them as an unavailable processing resource? Given all these component resources should be hot-plugable, the IBM tech can come out and replace when convenient?

    NSM tools can automate and avoid some operating environment issues. This should be possible on any platform, regardless of the inherent hardware healing capabilities. They could remember configuration states and know where to get a recent configuration to remedy a situation.

    The theme among all of these replies seems to be the same - handsandfeet work might be reduced, but planning for and effective use of high availability platforms will still require skilled resources. Computers don't and won't engineer themselves!

    When these servers come to fruition, I will be interested to learn more. Even IBM have said the technology is not new, but they are simply extending on what they already know.

    One thing is for sure the 'Midframe' market (as Sun has coined it) will certainly be a competitive one. Sun, IBM (and I believe HP's Superdome offers or will offer similar functionality?) all want a piece of your Miracle-Enabling-Server-Budget

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