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Finally, self-healing software a reality

By Anand Parthasarathy

Bangalore Dec. 20. American comic writer Mark Twain's grouse about the weather — ``Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it'' — could well apply to the computer industry's excited noises for a year now, on the possibility of self-correcting systems.

IBM gave it a name: Autonomic computing. Hewlett Packard called it Adaptive Infrastructure.

Sun Microsystems dubbed its own self-healing initiative N1 — a canny mnemonic for remembering the servers on which it will be deployed: Sun One.

All these tentative moves are angled at the server end of the computing business.

Finally this month, someone has come out with a tangible product for the rest of us — users of PCs, laptops and pocket computers — which can truthfully say ``Computer, heal thyself.'' Redwood, California-based SupportSoft, has unveiled Real Time Service Management (RTSM) software that enabled device and computer makers to provide automated support and remote correction of faults to millions of users worldwide.

In a privileged briefing for The Hindu the Chief Software Officer of SupportSoft, Cadir Lee, and its country manager, Craig Chatterton, explained that the core of the tool was a solution called `Resolution Suite' which when embedded in user devices, helped them to proactively heal themselves, without having to make calls to service centres or install additional chunks of software.

When a leading maker of notebook computers found that one component was overheating and making for a `scorching' laptop experience, the problem could be set right simultaneously in millions of models by sending a simple mail to each unit that adjusted voltages and corrected the fault.

The technology would also be very useful when customers wanted to upgrade the software on their systems. The manufacturer could effect automatic upgrades without hassling the end user.

``In the next 3-4 years, almost 95 per cent of remote assistance to computation platforms would be automatic compared to 30 per cent today,'' Mr. Lee added.

OK, computer, now that you can heal yourself, why don't you take my pulse — and find out what's wrong with me....

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