IBM Corp. has introduced the services component of a strategy to reduce IT complexity within businesses.

The eLiza project, as it’s known, has been an IBM buzzword for several years but is now beginning to take shape. Last month, IBM released its Regatta pSeries 690 server which the company purports is self-diagnosing and self-healing. This week, IBM Global Services stepped out with eLiza, announcing a service that will provide analysis of e-business infrastructure and offer support to keep it running 24/7.

IBM Global Services executive Mike Errity described the eLiza service as “an end-to-send service offering that provides a suite of capability to help a client optimize and ensure business processes are continuously available.”

Through the service a customer will have their business processes mapped — everything from employees to IT infrastructure to building facilities. Global Services will identify problems, patterns and trends within a company’s network and notify of potential risks or failures based on this complete picture. IBM Global Service consultants then set up rules and policies for infrastructure operations and the network is managed 24/7 from a customized graphical dashboard, said Errity.

Global Services will be able to perform these functions for a client regardless of the type or brand of technology they are using, Errity said, but they will require an enterprise system management tool such as that developed by IBM’s Tivoli company.

Improved functionality won’t come cheap for IBM Global Services clients. If eLiza steps in to whip your infrastructure into shape, it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the type of work requested. Errity couldn’t paint a clear picture of the types of savings a client may receive through the service, since it can only be measured on a case-by-case basis.

The eLiza services model isn’t expressly designed to replace an organization’s own IT services department, according to Errity, though it may be of interest to companies with reduced IT personnel or those that are finding it difficult to find qualified IT people.

The increasing complexity of maintaining networks — particularly in heterogeneous IT environments — is what’s driving the eLiza project, said Dataquest Research analyst Jim Cassell. “We’ve got to get around this incredible cost and difficulty to meet the business objectives,” he said. By moving the eLiza initiative from hardware solutions into a services play, “it’s now gone from a technical discussion to a business value-linked discussion,” he added.

BMC Software, Candle and Nortel Networks are working with IBM on this “autonomic computing platform.” Nortel, for example, is working with IBM through its Metro and Intelligent Internet portfolios to boost a network’s performance, according to Glenn Thurston, vice-president of strategic alliances with Nortel.

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