IBM (NYSE:IBM) recently announced a series of "self-healing" software products that will help mid-sized retailers and multinational conglomerates alike find and fix computer problems long before they can cause slowdowns or service interruptions.

The products further usher Big Blue into the era of self-managing autonomic computing technology and, because they will work on both mainframe computers and client/server architectures, will place some serious heat on IBM's competitors in this field, including Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Computer Associates (NYSE:CA), and Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC).

The new IBM products come in three flavors. The first is an updated version of a monitoring tool that can detect the need for specific procedures, such as when to tap additional servers when the regular servers approach overload. This software, which has already been successfully tested by more than 100 organizations, will allow users to better perform online applications, such as email or bill paying services, without disruption.

The second product is IBM's composite application manager. This tool speeds up access to information on the Internet by predicting and fixing bottlenecks. More significantly, because this software can locate where problems reside, identify the specific cause, and also take steps to solve the problem, it will save companies a great deal of money and manpower by reducing the need to troubleshoot system crashes. It has been estimated that between 50% and 80% of IT staff's time is spent determining the cause of a problem rather than fixing it.

The third and final product is a tool called automation for multiplatforms, and it helps bring computers back online after power outages or other failures without losing data.

These three advances, together with IBM's developments in super-computing, virtual computers, and telecommunications -- which I've written about in the past few months -- are why I remain bullish on Big Blue.

Moreover, like a good doctor who advises a patient to try to heal himself first, these advances in autonomic computing technology have the added benefit of solving some of IBM's own internal computer problems - which, for a company of its vast size, is not insignificant opportunity.

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Fool contributor Jack Uldrich has been accused by teachers and friends alike of thinking small since grade school. He is the author of The Next Big Thing Is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business and the forthcoming book, Investing in Nanotechnology: Think Small, Win Big. He can be reached at He owns shares of IBM. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.