IT systems and the applications that run on them are about to get a whole lot smarter.
Speaking at an IBM Smarter Computing Executive Forum in New York today, Rod Adkins, IBM senior vice president for systems and technology, said that IBM plans to unveil a series of platforms in April that use a variety of expert systems technologies to automate the management of systems and the applications that run on them.
While Adkins declined to go into specific detail about IBM's forthcoming "Integrated Expertise" systems, he did say that the effort would not only involve using autonomic technologies to make systems easier to manage, but also making IBM software smarter about what system resources are available based on the characteristics of the application workload.
Positioned as the next iteration of IBM's Smarter Computing initiative, the next generation of IT systems will automatically recognize the attributes of multiple classes of software. According to Adkins, application software typically falls into four major classes: transaction processing; analytics; business applications, such as ERP; and collaboration applications that include file and print servers in addition to email and social networking applications.
The addition of expert system technologies will not only reduce the total cost of IT by making it possible for fewer administrators than ever to manage a greater number of physical and virtual servers, but also make it possible for IT organizations to "right-size" their IT investments by utilizing shared cloud resources to process peak application workloads. Right now, most companies invest in the IT infrastructure to handpick application workloads, even those capacities that might only be required a few days a month or a couple of minutes a day.
The end goal, says Adkins, is to make composite software applications smart enough to automatically invoke different classes of processing capabilities, whether that's an xSeries server, pSeries server, zEnterprise mainframe or a dedicated appliance. Each of those environments will continue to be optimized for specific classes of applications, but the expertise required to invoke them should not be as great as it is today, says Adkins.
In effect, Adkins says the industry as a whole is on the cusp of a major leap forward in terms of the level of management sophistication in systems and the applications that run on them. Obviously, that change will have major implications in terms of defining the roles and functions of existing IT staffs.
But as the saying goes, "To be forewarned is to be forearmed," which means IT professionals might want to start working on redefining their roles on their own terms before advances in IT automation wind up doing it for them.