IBM's Alan Ganek wants to evolve computing infrastructures to be as self-regulating as the human body's autonomic nervous system. "There is a business necessity to reduce the complexity and expense of managing IT infrastructures," says the newly appointed vice president of Autonomic Computing, Hawthorne, N.Y. "The goal is to achieve intelligent, open systems that can mask the complexity of systems that have some knowledge of themselves." He sees autonomic computing technology mediating between the improved price/performance of IT tools and their rapidly increasing complexity. Ganek's vision is to use autonomic features to support the successful integration of business processes to the dynamic demands of customers, partners and employees. For IBM, autonomic computing brings new coherence to an e-commerce strategy already recognized for its comprehensiveness. The Autonomic Computing organization will reach across the company's product development teams, its Global Service organization and IBM Research to expedite autonomic technologies and products to the marketplace, says Ganek. In an autonomic IT system, components -- from desktop computers to mainframes, to software applications and middleware -- are self-configuring, self-healing, self-optimizing and self-protecting, adds Ganek. "They regulate themselves and sometimes, each other. Together they proactively manage the entire system and mask the inherent complexity of the activities from end users." While autonomic computing is an evolving journey, IBM is already installing eServer systems that incorporate the technology to make them self-healing, self-configuring, self-protecting and self-optimizing. Ganek says autonomic technology applies also to IBM's middleware (WebSphere Application Server Version 5.0). He says new autonomic features will enable WebSphere to automatically monitor, analyze and fix performance problems, allowing customers to constantly adapt to a fluid business environment. Autonomic computing also will enable IBM's On-Demand vision where computer power will be as easy to access and use as electricity. To get there, system operation needs to be autonomic enough to be directly governed by business policies and objectives. In contrast, system management is a major issue for today's system administrators. Complexity tops that list, says Tony Scott, chief technology officer, General Motors Corp., Detroit.