Self-Management: The Solution to Complexity or Just Another Problem?

K. Herrmann, G. Muhl, K. Geihs
2005 IEEE Distributed Systems Online  
Traditionally, network and system management are manually controlled processes. It usually takes one or more human operators to manage all aspects of a dynamically evolving computing system. The operator is tightly integrated in this management process, and his or her tasks range from defining high-level policies to executing lowlevel system commands for immediate problem resolution. Although this form of humanin-the-loop management was appropriate in the past, it has become increasingly
more » ... increasingly unsuitable for modern networked computing systems. Several trends shaping the development of IT infrastructures have aggravated network and system management: The rapidly increasing size of individual networks and the Internet as a whole Hardware and software components' growing degree of heterogeneity The emergence of new networking technologies, such as ad hoc networking, personal area networks, and wearable computing, which are being combined with established technologies such as the Internet and cellular-phone networks IEEE Distributed Systems Online --January 2005 1 Employees' growing need for mobile access to enterprise data The increased interdependency between business processes and the corresponding software products The idea of disappearing computing, which states that the growing number of computing devices pervading our everyday lives should be invisible to us The accelerated development of new technologies, which forces companies to restructure their IT systems more frequently These trends indicate that IT infrastructures in large companies will grow even more complex in the future. How can we administer systems of this complexity adequately? This question has stimulated a large interest in self-management technologies technologies that help systems autonomously control themselves. It's not realistic for human operators to maintain control over a system that consists of thousands of networked computers, mobile clients, and numerous application servers and databases. We must redefine human operators' roles so that instead of being involved in the decision process in an interactive and tightly coupled fashion, operators define general goals and policies for system control. 1 But is self-management the solution? Only if we can first solve several open problems. Current challenges The Autonomic Computing Initiative (see the related sidebar) divides self-management into four functional areas: 2
doi:10.1109/mdso.2005.3 fatcat:i7vvywqcynevbkpu24tdgkuuai