The term autonomous, like the term autonomic, comes from robotics and human related sciences. In these areas, an important characteristic of an autonomous system is that it is capable of independent decision and action in pursuit of its objectives (see also wikipedia). For this reason an autonomous system must be intelligent.
- Autonomous management is a contradiction; it is impossible to manage the unmanageable.
- Autonomous (in general): (a) existing or capable of existing independently, (b) responding, reacting, or developing independently of the whole (http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/autonomous)
- An autonomous network can operate independent of a manager. An autonomous network lacks a management interface.
Relation to Autonomic management
Ideally autonomous networks should be able to operate without interference of a manager. In practice this may be difficult, however, since equipment may fail or the requirements put on the network by the environment may change. To discover faults or to modify the operation of the "autonomous network", management may still be needed. The idea of autonomous networks should therefore be seen as a goal to strive for. In practice this goal may not always be reachable; some form of management may still be needed. The autonomous network therefore changes into an autonomic network, which allows some form of autonomic management.