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IBM and Cisco Collaborate on Autonomic Computing Solutions

IBM and Cisco Unveil Innovative Approach Toward a Self-Healing Infrastructure

Companies Collaborate on Technologies and Standards to Address IT Complexity

Armonk, NY and San Jose, CA, USA. October 10, 2003.

Note: Additional references and description for the Common Base Event (CBE) format are provided following the text of this press release.

IBM and Cisco today announced a set of open software technologies designed to increase the end-to-end intelligence and responsiveness of the global IT infrastructure -- representing a major advancement in the development of "self-healing" computing systems and networks.

IBM and Cisco are working on a set of proposed technologies and standards creating a common language to detect, log and resolve system problems. The two companies will further outline this initiative next week at IBM's annual CIO conference in San Diego, CA.

IBM plans to start integrating these new autonomic technologies into its entire portfolio of software, storage and server hardware products immediately. In the second phase of this initiative, Cisco intends to integrate these technologies into its products and services. Together the system and network enhancements will help to enable a self-healing enterprise infrastructure.

Pioneered within both companies development labs, the new problem determination technologies are envisioned as the basis for standardized exchange of problem determination data across the IT enterprise. These new technologies lay the foundation for systems and networks to detect, analyze, correlate, and resolve IT problems and automatically diagnose the root cause of a problem in complex systems. Customer data centers have a large set of products with diverse and often proprietary instrumentation, which makes end-to-end analysis difficult or impossible. Adapting an architected, standards-based design results in an infrastructure that helps enable delivery of end-to-end problem determination and problem remediation.

"As system and network complexity in IT infrastructures has grown it has become increasingly apparent that this trend cannot continue without some major change in the way the infrastructures are managed," said Alan Ganek, vice president, IBM Autonomic Computing. "IT professionals from medium and large businesses have told us that 25-50 percent of their IT resource is spent on problem determination. Given the pressures on budgets, time, and skills, our work on standards based technologies for problem determination will make it faster and easier to improve availability and reduce downtime in their IT infrastructure."

"Today's IT environment is becoming increasingly complex for enterprises to manage," said Greg Akers, senior vice president, Cisco Systems. "Recognizing this trend, Cisco and IBM are collaborating on technologies and standards that will form the foundation for an interoperable, extensible, and systemically developed adaptive networking and services architecture. We hope others in the industry will adapt the proposed standards and help enterprises realize the benefits of an autonomic, or self-managing, IT infrastructure."

The new technologies are part of the companies' commitment to develop and drive open standards. IBM and Cisco are working across the industry to develop an open standards approach. IBM has submitted a Common Base Event (CBE) format, which is envisioned as the basis for standardized exchange of problem determination data via web services, to the OASIS Standards Body. [See: "Canonical Situation Data Format: The Common Base Event," and the associated XML Schema.]

"Toshiba has been working with IBM to accelerate practical autonomic computing, such as the combination of Toshiba ClusterPerfect and IBM Director," said Akira Bannai, Senior Fellow, Toshiba Solutions Corporation. "Now, by adopting common base event technology into Toshiba's products and system integration services, Toshiba will deploy more powerful solutions to reduce the complexity of today's heterogeneous enterprise environments."

Once problem determination tools and processes are implemented, enterprises have the ability to diagnose problems more quickly, and often before they happen, reducing downtime and the associated revenue losses.

Building and implementing networked self-healing systems into the enterprise environment is a gradual one and IBM has already begun helping the industry by developing a common approach and terminology to architecting autonomic computing systems. In April IBM introduced the autonomic computing blueprint, which is based on open standards and is designed around developing self-managing systems that use intelligent control loops to collect information from the system, make decisions and then adjust the system as necessary. IBM is also working with the business partner community, providing ISVs with the latest technologies as well as supporting them in bringing new applications to market with these latest capabilities, all built around open standards.

One of the factors contributing to the complexity in problem determination can be attributed to the multitude of ways that different parts of a system report events, conditions, errors, and alerts. Today, even simple e-business solutions may contain as many as 25 to 40 logging mechanisms. These log files contain a variety of content formats because systems are built using disparate pieces and parts, often with products from multiple vendors. Technology developed by the IBM Research Division has been crucial to overcoming these difficulties by providing a way to automatically learn the format of log files, thereby reducing the time required to process and develop interfaces to new log data (often from days to hours).

The network has always played a pivotal role in enabling companies to automate their business processes. As the network increases in strategic value, the intelligence of the network becomes the determining factor in customer success. Cisco continues to lead in the creation of integrated intelligent networks through the delivery of faster, smarter, lasting systems, services, products, and technologies.

During this process, businesses can expect to see value on numerous levels, including a reduced total cost of ownership, improved availability and productivity.

IBM and Cisco have a global strategic alliance, which offers customers industry-leading, integrated e-business solutions. The two companies draw on their strengths in Internet infrastructure, e-business systems, networks and services to deliver end-to-end Internet business solutions to enterprises and service providers.

More information is available at

About IBM

IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across IBM and key Business Partners, IBM offers a wide range of services, solutions and technologies that enable customers, large and small, to take full advantage of the new era of e-business. For more information about IBM, visit

About Cisco Systems

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. News and information are available at


Michael Loughran
Tel: +1 914-784-5206

Cisco Systems, Inc.
Kim Gibbons
Tel: +1 408-525-4909

Common Base Event: References and Additional Information

  • "Canonical Situation Data Format: The Common Base Event." By David Ogle (Autonomic Computing), Heather Kreger (Emerging Technologies), Abdi Salahshour (Autonomic Computing), Jason Cornpropst (Tivoli Event Management), Eric Labadie (WSAD PD Tooling), Mandy Chessell (Business Integration), Bill Horn (IBM Research - Yorktown), and John Gerken (Emerging Technologies). Submitted by Thomas Studwell to the OASIS Web Services Distributed Management TC. Wednesday, 10-September-2003. Reference: ACAB.BO0301.2.0 Update to Common Base Event document submitted to WS-DM TC on August 21, 2003. 72 pages. With XML Schema. See the posting of October 14, 2003. "This document defines a common base event (CBE) that defines the structure of an event in a consistent and a common format. The purpose of the CBE is to facilitate effective intercommunication among disparate components that support logging, management, problem determination, autonomic computing and e-business functions in an enterprise. This document specifies a baseline that encapsulates properties common to a wide variety of events, including business, management, tracing and logging type events. The format of the event is first rendered in UML allowing the reader to better understand the structure of the CBE. In an appendix, the CBE is expressed as an XML document using UTF-8 or UTF-16 encoding. This document is prescriptive about the format and content of the data that is passed or retrieved from a component. However, it is not prescriptive about the ways in which how individual applications are to store their data locally. Therefore, the application requirement is only to be able to generate or render events in this format, not necessarily to store them in this format. The goal of this effort is to ensure the accuracy, improve the detail, and standardize the format of events to assist in designing robust, manageable and deterministic systems. Quality event data leads to accurate, deterministic and proper management of the enterprise. Poor fidelity can lead to misguided, potentially harmful or fatal results. The results of this effort is a specification for the 'Common Base Event' definition that serves as a new standard for events among enterprise management and business applications..." [canonical source .DOC, cache]

  • CBE previous version. "Canonical Situation Data Format: The Common Base Event." By IBM Staff Members: David Ogle (Autonomic Computing), Heather Kreger (Emerging Technologies), Abdi Salahshour (Autonomic Computing), Jason Cornpropst (Tivoli Event Management), Eric Labadie (WSAD PD Tooling), Mandy Chessell (Business Integration), Bill Horn (IBM Research - Yorktown), and John Gerken (Emerging Technologies). Reference: ACAB.BO0301.1.1. Copyright (c) International Business Machines Corporation. 66 pages. With XML Schema. IBM submission to the OASIS Web Services Distributed Management TC. This document defines a common base event (CBE) and supporting technologies that define the structure of an event in a consistent and a common format. The purpose of the CBE is to facilitate effective intercommunication among disparate enterprise components that support logging, management, problem determination, autonomic computing and e-business functions in an enterprise. See also the abstract.

  • Problem Determination FAQs document. From IBM. "IBM has submitted the Common Base Event (CBE) format to the OASIS Web Services Distributed Management Technical Committee (WS-DM TC), with the support of Computer Associates and Talking Blocks, for consideration in developing an industry standard... IBM and Cisco are collaborating to eventually jointly bring forward standards proposals (or modify existing standards) in the area of problem determination to provide a common representation of system event and remediation actions. This work will be crucial to making giant strides forward in remote service and support... One of the basic foundations for the IBM problem determination architecture is a common format for log/trace information, called the Common Base Event (CBE) format, which creates consistency across similar fields and improves the ability to correlate across multiple logs. It is based on a structured "3-tuple" format, which includes the source component impacted by a situation, the reporting component, and the situation data. While a consistent data format is important, it is organizing the content into these three parts--the 3-tuple--that makes it possible to write and deploy resource-independent management functions that can isolate a failing component..."

  • "IBM, Computer Associates, and Talking Blocks Release WS-Manageability Specification." See following reference.

  • The 'Common Base Event' is presented also in the Web Service Manageability Specification (Version 1.0, September 10, 2003). See the UML diagrams, discussion, and reference to IBM's CBE: "... While notifications contain descriptions of specific event changes, some event description information is common across events. For example, all event descriptions contain time of the event, event source, event reporter, situation type, and generally a message text as well. A standard event format and XML schema is needed for management events to ensure alignment of semantics of the common event information. 'The Canonical Situation Data and Common Base Event Specification 1.1', which has been submitted to the OASIS WSDM TC, defines a standard common event schema to be used for interoperability..." Excerpt: Section 1.3.2 State: "... The operational, or lifecycle, state for a Web service is understood and managed through the State manageability model which supports obtaining the current state, changing the state, and events for state changes and events for request processing state changes. The states and transitions are identified by URIs. The standard URIs for valid states and transitions are defined and are extensible... The state change event description is a common base event message with an extended data field containing the state identifier, current state identifier, previous state identifier, a transition identifier and an optional duration of the transition. The request processing state change event description is also a common base event message with the same additional information as the state change event description. [ Events:] State change events provide valuable information for management systems and can be used to calculate many derived metrics. [1] lifecycleStateChange: Service state change events occur whenever lifecycle state transitions complete and are represented by instances of Common Base Event descriptions. [2] requestProcessingStateChange: Request processing state change events occur whenever request processing state transitions complete and are represented by instances of Common Base Event descriptions. The configuration property exists to allow a Manager to specify what additional information to include in the event. ..."

  • The IBM Emerging Technologies Toolkit Version 1.1.1 "contains a WS-Policy demo, Self-Healing/Optimizing Autonomic Computing demo, Autonomic Computing Toolset, Common Base Event Data Format, Web Services Integration, Web Services Failure Recovery, IBM Grid Toolbox infrastructure along with a Grid Software Manager, WS-Reliable Messaging demo, and a JMX Bridge... Common Base Event (CBE) Data Format is a proposed data standard for facilitating the effective intercommunication among disparate enterprise applications that support logging, management, problem determination, autonomic computing, and e-business functions within an enterprise environment. Through XML-encoded events specified though a well-defined schema, CBE encapsulates properties common to events used by these technologies while allowing several extension mechanisms to support the widest possible range of data. In this release of the toolkit, Version 1.0a of IBM's Java implementation of a CBE API is introduced. This new release includes the first full implementation of the CBE schema, in addition to many new classes and methods for better facilitating the use of CBE. CBEs are used in the Self-healing/Optimizing Autonomic Computing Demo..." See also the live demo.

  • [October 13, 2003] "CRN Interview: Alan Ganek, IBM." By Michael Vizard. In CRN (October 13, 2003). ['One of the cornerstones of IBM's E-Business on Demand initiative is a concept called autonomic computing, which is the idea that systems and networks should automatically be able to heal themselves and automatically allocate resources in order to bring the cost of IT ownership down by orders of magnitude. Heading up IBM's research in this area is Alan Ganek, IBM's vice president of autonomic computing. In an interview with CRN Editor-in-Chief Michael Vizard, Ganek pushes past the rhetoric to explain what IBM is actually doing to help customers get the true value of IT sooner.'] Ganek: "... My team recently submitted something called common base event, which is a standard logging data-capture format, to the Oasis standards body. This will be a huge improvement in the way systems can be debugged, and then ultimately self-healed, by having a consistent instrumentation for how you capture infrastructure events that go on. It lays out not only just the format for capturing data, but also what the semantics of the data is. When we started this work, no one believed that this was going to be doable because every component owner felt that their log was unique to them. We studied thousands of logs and we were able to go through and recognize the fact that there's a set of kinds of things that you log and that you can describe them pretty clearly and that we can get at it. So we can translate most existing logs using adapters, and yes, there's some uniqueness, but the architecture allows for that. So now you can start to do correlations at a far more sophisticated level. The design that you have to have holistically has to deal with the fact that components are going to fail. The question is how to shield that from the end user to keep the application running. Being able to quickly move workload from one source to another is a critical vehicle for that..."

  • "I.B.M. and Cisco Plan Venture to Develop Software Standards." By Steve Lohr. In New York Times, Technology Section (October 10, 2003). IBM and Cisco Systems have announced that they will jointly develop and promote open software standards intended to simplify the increasingly complex task of managing corporate data networks. The software technologies developed in the collaboration will be shared with the rest of the industry.

  • "IBM, Cisco Help Networks Help Themselves. Companies Announce Drive Toward Self-Diagnostic, Self-Healing Networks." By Stephen Lawson. In InfoWorld (October 10, 2003). IBM Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. want to make it easier to diagnose and solve problems in an enterprise's IT infrastructure, even to the point where it can do that by itself. Self-diagnosis and self-healing are key parts of IBM's broader autonomic computing initiative, aimed at creating systems and networks that in many respects run themselves.

  • "IBM, Cisco Push Data Center Standard." By Martin LaMonica. In CNET (October 10, 2003). "IBM and Cisco Systems on Friday announced that they are spearheading an effort to create an industrywide method for troubleshooting glitches in complex-computing data centers. The two companies will pursue the standardization of problem-resolution techniques through submissions to OASIS.

  • [October 10, 2003] "IBM, Cisco Simplify Network Management." By Jay Wrolstad. From NewsFactor Network (October 10, 2003). IBM already has submitted a CBE (common base event) format -- which is the basis for standardized exchange of problem-determination data via Web services -- to OASIS. Big Blue is collaborating with Cisco to create a more complete common language to detect, log and resolve system problems.

  • [October 10, 2003] "IBM, Cisco Team on 'Self-Healing' Standards." By Clint Boulton. In (October 10, 2003). IBM and Cisco broadened their partnership Friday by agreeing to work together on open "self-healing" software technologies and a corresponding standard to boost the performance of computer infrastructure.

  • Autonomic Computing from IBM's alphaWorks. "IBM's vision of autonomic computing embraces the development of intelligent, open systems capable of managing themselves, adapting to varying circumstances in accordance with business policies and objectives, and preparing their resources to most efficiently handle workloads. Autonomic computing is part of IBM's e-business on demand strategy.

  • "What You Need To Know Now About Autonomic Computing, Part 1: An Introduction and Overview. Alan Ganek Provides a Roadmap" By Daniel H. Steinberg (Director of Java Offerings, Dim Sum Thinking). From IBM developerWorks, IBM developer solutions. August 2003. "Autonomic systems are able to dynamically configure and reconfigure themselves according to business needs. Such systems are always on the lookout to protect themselves from unauthorized use, to repair portions of the system that are no longer functioning, and to look for ways to optimize themselves. IBM has introduced major initiatives in autonomic computing. At this year's developerWorks Live! conference, Alan Ganek, IBM Vice President of Autonomic Computing, presented an overview that set the stage for a host of other sessions on the topic..."

  • IBM and Autonomic Computing. An Architectural Blueprint for Autonomic Computing. IBM White paper. April 2003. 37 pages

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive.

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