After six months of touting its eLiza Project, IBM last week debuted services and software underpinnings to help fulfil eLiza's promise of self-healing, self-managed systems aimed at large enterprise users.

The ultimate goal of the eLiza project, according to IBM, was to create servers in the image of the body's immune system.

"Just as the human body manages itself without conscious intervention, Project eLiza's objective is to make the e-business infrastructure, and in particular IBM storage and software, a self-managing system," goes the company line.

Observers say IBM's eLiza Project-related services will be an attractive offering to users with IBM gear, as well as equipment from vendors cooperating with IBM. That's because it will give them a way to centralise and automate a lot of the management tasks they now spend time doing manually.

For example, with the likes of Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks on board, users with eLiza tools and gear from those companies would have a single management interface from which to maintain and monitor those products.

One potential problem for IBM and eLiza is that it doesn't have the support of some major software and hardware vendors – such as HP, Sun, Compaq, Dell, or Microsoft. Jonathan Eunice, an analyst with Illuminata, says those firms will have to meet IBM's challenge to come up with similar products, but won't be eager to support a company they consider a rival in the systems, software, or network management arenas. But IBM has some powerful allies, including Cisco, Nortel, Computer Associates, BMC and Candle.

New services include IBM's e-business Management Services, which essentially gives users a software-based dashboard view of their critical business applications and hardware. IBM's Active Middleware Information Technology software will provide the necessary components to monitor and maintain systems in an automated fashion.

The company also plans to bring some of the dynamic resource provisioning technology it offers on its high-end servers to its low-end eServer line. Dynamic provisioning lets users allocate server resources on demand so they can harness power for tasks on the fly.