IBM Systems Journal

Enabling autonomic behavior in systems software with hot swapping

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Autonomic computing systems are designed to be self-diagnosing and self-healing, such that they detect performance and correctness problems, identify their causes, and react accordingly. These abilities can improve performance, availability, and security, while simultaneously reducing the effort and. skills required of system administrators. One way that systems can support these abilities is by allowing monitoring code, diagnostic code, and function implementations to be dynamically inserted and removed in live systems. This "hot swapping" avoids the requisite prescience and additional complexity inherent in creating systems that have all possible configurations built in ahead of time. For already-complex pieces of code such as operating systems, hot swapping provides a simpler, higher-performance, and more maintainable method of achieving autonomic behavior. In this paper, we discuss hot swapping as a technique for enabling autonomic computing in systems software. First, we discuss its advantages and describe the required system structure. Next, we describe K42, a research operating system that explicitly supports interposition and replacement of active operating system code. Last, we describe the infrastructure of K42 for hot swapping and several instances of its use demonstrating autonomic behavior.