I recently had the opportunity to attend an Autonomic Computing(AC) summit with customers and business partners at the IBM Amagi Homestead in Naka-Izu-cho, Japan. I was looking forward to the weekend retreat, not just because of the great sashimi (and the chance to wear a yukata ;), but because a number of business partners would be presenting how IBM AC technologies are helping to differentiate their products. Bright and early Saturday morning before the meeting began , we had the customary group photo in front of one of the putting greens with Fuji, which was unfortunately obscured in the process of scanning this picture, as a backdrop. (I am seated in the center, front row)
We arrived at Amagi early Friday afternoon after taking a train down the coast from Tokyo followed by a bus ride up the mountain where the business retreat would take place. As our bus emerged from mandarin groves along the narrow coastal plains and began the steep climb to the Amagi homestead 2500 feet in elevation we all strained to see the first glimpse of Mount Fuji through the mist and forest...
Suddenly to searching eyes
Startling like the first chord struck from celestial amps
Proudly peaked with white
Humbly hushing all
Inspired by Fuji and inspired to be on a mission in Amagi, a mission with a grand challenge! The challenge? To truly work together as an industry, setting a new precedent of cooperation, in the battle to reduce IT complexity. Its all about finding new common ground as the way to move forward...and Amagi was all about demonstrating how we are finally beginning to take that journey together.
The Manifesto of Autonomic Computing maintains that the information technology boom can only expand for so long before it collapses under the weight of its own complexity. A complexity fueled by the ever increasing availability of disparate technologies coupled with global expansion, mergers and acquisitions. We need a different model if we are to move to the next generation of business enabled by information technology. The human body's autonomic nervous system presents a very interesting model. The autonomic nervous system is a part of the peripheral nervous system that functions to regulate the basic visceral processes needed for the maintenance of normal bodily functions. It operates independently of voluntary control, freeing humans from complex management tasks that could distract from higher physical or intellectual tasks. Let's face it - if we approached the management of our body the way we approach the management of IT, everyone on our bus would have missed that first poetry inspiring view of Fuji! We would have been so distracted with consulting manuals and contacting experts (to reconfigure breathing, heart rate, skin temperature and pupil dilation to insure optimum performance in an environment that was undergoing a rapid altitude change) that we would have missed the more important view.
So what is Autonomic Computing? It's an enabler for focusing on the higher level business view without the distraction of managing the technology. AC is also all about a challenge to the IT industry to work together to reduce complexity and create self managing systems. The ability to cross technology barriers imposed by complexity is critical if we are to advance to the next generation of business.(ie: on demand)
The Amagi retreat was a deep dive into Japanese culture for me. The meetings and activities had a sincere openness and inclusiveness to them which I greatly appreciated. It was also an honest immersion into how Japanese companies are making significant progress with the challenge of AC. There is a lot of momentum in Japan led by IBM-J and a number of innovative business partners. In Amagi, companies such as Toshiba, a true autonomic leader, described how the incorporation of AC technologies from the AC Toolkit such as the Autonomic Management Engine(AME) and the Log Trace Analyzer(L/TA) as well as the Common Base Event (CBE) XML schema have helped to deliver real value. The autonomic architecture, standards, and technologies have provided a common ground for business partners to start to work together on this shared journey towards self-configuring, self-healing, self-optimizing, and self-protecting systems.
I have been working with a number of business partners who will be joining me at PartnerWorld in Las Vegas in the beginning of March to demonstrate how they are moving forward with Autonomic Computing technologies. I am really excited about this years event and can already feel the AC spirit. But more on that later... (My autonomic system is telling me to take a break and watch some autonomic nervous system in action - AC-C basketball.)