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Meeting Your CM Goals Through ITIL

By Malcolm Fry Configuration Management (CM) is the process of detailed recording and updating of information that describes an enterprise's computer systems and networks, including all hardware and software components.
Aug 30, 2004
By

ITSM Watch Staff





By Malcolm Fry

In today's competitive market time is money, so when it comes to IT investments companies need reliable solutions that consistently demonstrate ROI. A key component to upholding and maintaining an efficient IT infrastructure is effective management of applications.

Configuration Management (CM) is the process of detailed recording and updating of information that describes an enterprise's computer systems and networks, including all hardware and software components. Monitoring throughout versions and revisions enables CM to systematically control changes to maintain integrity and traceability of the system throughout a product's lifecycle. This article will discuss how ITIL lays the framework for Configuration Management success.

CM is most effective when implemented with an industry standard framework. IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is an integrated set of guidelines and common terminology for Service Management best practices that was first developed by the British government. It describes best practices at a high level, providing guidance on steps to take and processes or workflows that have proven successful in the past. Configuration is usually regarded as the heart of ITIL Service Management because every other process utilizes the Configuration Management Database (CMDB). As a result, it's critical that the CMDB is accurate and updated in a timely manner.

According to ITIL, Configuration Management provides a logical model of the infrastructure or a service by identifying, controlling, maintaining and verifying the versions of Configuration Items (CIs) in existence. A Configuration Item is an infrastructure component that is required to provide the services, systems, and applications required to provide an agreed service to IT customers. It is therefore important that all CIs are accounted for to ensure an accurate assessment of an IT infrastructure.

The primary goals of Configuration Management are:

  • Account for all the IT assets and configurations within the organization and its services
  • Provide accurate information on configurations and their documentation to support all the other Service Management processes
  • Provide a sound basis for Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management and Release Management
  • Verify the configuration records against the infrastructure and correct any exceptions
One can better understand how ITIL lays the framework for Configuration Management success by taking a closer look at the various goals of CM:
    Account for all the IT assets and configurations within the organization and its services - Not all CIs appear as assets. Internally written programs, procedural documentation and people are often not seen as assets, however, they are all CIs. Checks should be performed to ensure an accurate assessment of all IT assets. This will enable businesses to identify and manage change and configurations proactively, therefore responding more effectively to changing IT and business requirements.

    Provide accurate information on configurations and their documentation to support all the other Service Management processes - Assuming that the data in your CMBD is accurate, it needs to be made available to the other Service Management processes. Integration among the Service Management processes is critical. For example, when the service desk is entering data in an incident record, does the CI database automatically populate the record with configuration and documentation information? Or, does the service desk agent have to enter that information manually? To check whether you are meeting this goal element, look at the other Service Management processes and identify if there are areas where the CMDB data is not being used when it could be.

    Provide a sound basis for Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management and Release Management - Incident, Problem, and Change Management are the processes that use the CMDB for information, and even more importantly, for decision-making purposes. An accurate and complete CMDB enables businesses to make informed decisions that identify the impact of a problem or incident. It enables costs to be better calculated for potential changes and improves the accuracy of escalation. The most important knowledge is an accurate understanding of what assets you have, where they are located and their interrelationships.

    Verify the configuration records against the infrastructure and correct any exceptions - As mentioned earlier, Configuration Management provides information and data to all the other processes. This element is related to previous elements, except that instead of requiring that all CIs are present in the CMDB, this goal requires that the content of the CIs is accurate. Ensuring this accuracy will enable administrators to quickly respond to performance degradation by reconfiguring or re-provisioning systems thus ensuring that business goals are consistently met.

Assessing, monitoring and managing all aspects of an IT infrastructure can seem like a daunting task. By adhering to the ITIL standards for Configuration Management companies maintain control of their IT environment, which increases operational efficiency and reduces IT costs.

Malcolm Fry, a recognized IT industry luminary with over 35 years experience in Information Technology, serves as an Independent Executive Advisor to Remedy. Malcolm brings to Remedy an unparalleled breadth of knowledge and experience in IT business and technical issues.

Malcolm is the author of four best selling books on IT service and support, he has had many other articles and papers published, and he is regularly contacted as a source of information by technology journalists. In addition, he is the solo performer in a highly successful, best selling video series made for the Help Desk Institute. He has Masters level ITIL certification.




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