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An autonomic network is a network that essentially monitors and/or creates its own conditions with data from existing operations. Some refer to this as a kind of self-configuring or self-optimizing network because it uses feedback loops to drive changes. The idea of an autonomic network is still evolving as experts look at how data mining and similar concepts can be used to give networks more tools for self-sustainability.
The idea of an autonomic network was partially inspired by concerns about the directionless nature of the global Internet design, which many people feel is insufficiently controlled or planned. Over time, the idea arose that networks could be made to function with some element of self-awareness or self management. Those developing the idea of autonomic networks also observed the need for various proprietary networks for different kinds of mobile devices and other consumer electronics.
In some ways, the model for an autonomic network is based on the human autonomic nervous system, which regulates different human body functions using existing data from the body. This developed into the concept of self-knowledge, which is evident in projects involving autonomic networks. In practical terms, an autonomic network design may include analytic structures based on a device operating system, where the data that's funneled back into the network gets used intelligently to create future parameters for the system's own functioning.