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IBM pursues software installation standard

IBM pursues software installation standard

IBM is unveiling technology intended to reduce complexity in software installation and packaging and has submitted it to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for consideration as an industry standard.

Dubbed Solution Installation for Autonomic Computing, the technology enables software developers and software vendors to improve the installation and support experience and simplify the software packaging process, according to IBM. Developers would be able to build packaged software for installation on a variety of platforms.

“One of the observations is that half of the problems that are surfacing in today’s IT environments are stemming from configuration issues,” director of autonomic computing at IBM, David Bartlett, said.

The rise of heterogeneous environments has created issues related to application interdependencies, Bartlett said. IBM with Solution Installation is focusing on reducing the complexity around this issue.

“No longer are products just installed by themselves or work by themselves," he said. "They’re part of a larger solution."

Led by IBM and Novell, the technology has been submitted to the W3C as the Solution Installation Schema Submission.

IBM is seeking formation of a cross-industry standards committee within W3C to formalise a specification for software packaging.

An XML-based packaging schema featured in the Software Installation technology is intended to lay the foundation for self-configuring capabilities in “on demand” infrastructures, in which infrastructures are self-configuring. InstallShield Software Technologies and Zero G Software are also partners on the proposed industry standard.

IBM was seeking a standard that defined what an installable unit of software was, instead of developers each having their own approaches to installation, Bartlett said. As part of the effort, IBM is developing an approach and implementation for a set of manageability interfaces that products can use to relate packaging and configuration information to resources across an IT infrastructure.

“The usefulness of this is that it will be possible to have the ISVs put multiple things together and install them in some fairly simple way,” president of market analyst firm Wohl Associates, Amy Wohl, said.

Software users would find it easier to implement changes, she said.

Another analyst compared Software Installation to Microsoft's System Definition Model, albeit for multiple platforms.

“What IBM is aiming to do with Solution Installation is cover a broader, cross-section of the different range of platforms,” vice-president and research director at Forrester Research, Mike Gilpin, said.

Support for Solution Installation was being sought from vendors such as Microsoft, Sun, Oracle and SAP, Bartlett said.

Products from IBM that used Solution Installation technology were anticipated within the next year, although each product group must make that determination, Bartlett said.

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