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Introduction to Autonomic Computing

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Started by IBM on the year of 2001, autonomic computing refers to a self managing computing model which is self adaptive to the unpredictable changes just like a human being. It will control the functioning of a computer’s application without the input from a user, in the same way that the autonomic nervous system regulates the body system. Just as the human body acts and responds without the individual controlling function like the internal temp rises and falls, the heart beat fluctuates; glands secrete hormones according to stimulus, the autonomic computing system operates to the response it collects.

Autonomic computing is one of the building blocks of pervasive computing, which is the future of computing model in which many tiny computers will be all around us communicating through increasingly interconnected networks. So if a system for example is self-tuning, does that mean that it never needs to be tuned by a human, or does it mean that a human has to tune it less frequently?

Some of the key elements of autonomic computing according to IBM are –

  • It must have specific knowledge of all of its components.
  • Must have the ability to self configure to suit various unpredictable conditions.
  • It must monitor itself for optimum performance and functionality.
  • It must be self healing, and able to find alternative ways if encountered with a problem.
  • Must detect possible threats and protect it from them.
  • It must be able to adapt to environmental conditions.

A basic concept that will be applied in autonomic computing are closed control loops. A well known concept from process control theory. Essentially a closed control loop is a self managing system which monitors some resources (Hardware or Software) and autonomously tries to keep its parameters within a certain range.

The fundamental block of autonomic system is the sensing capability (Sensor S1). This enables the system to observe its external operation. Autonomic system should possess the knowledge of the process i.e. the intention accordingly the knowledge of how to do it i.e. the know-how without any external intervention. The actual operation is defined by the logic which is responsible for making the right decision to fulfil its purpose, influenced by the observation of the operational context (based on the sensors I/P).

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