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HP's Customer's Speak: Five Steps to Successful CMDB

ITSM Watch guest columnist Mahesh Kumar of HP shares what he has learned from listening to his customers.
Jul 7, 2008

Mahesh Kumar


Today’s IT professionals have a lot on their plates. Organizations are demanding them to do more with less as many IT budgets continue to shrink and executives want to see improved business outcomes through IT initiatives. In addition, introducing new people and technologies into an already overtaxed ecosystem via mergers, acquisitions, outsourcing, virtualization and other trends further compounds the information-access problem.


Many IT organizations are turning to a federated configuration management database (CMDB) to create a shared single version of truth to support IT initiatives focused on business service, IT service, change, and asset management. These initiatives not only help align IT efforts with business priorities, but they also run IT operations more efficiently and effectively.


Previous generations of CMDB provided value by laying the foundation for asset inventory management, but they took a monolithic approach, which can be characterized by rigid, fixed uniformity. In addition, these CMDBs lacked a broader end-to-end service lifecycle orientation. By comparison, today’s current generation of CMDBs add significant value to the equation by providing a complete view into the relationships of all IT elements that work together to deliver business services.


Below are five critical success factors for implementations, developed from customer experiences:


Step 1: Identify the Key Business Priority


A successful implementation of CMDB should always start with the business goal in mind. This is important because different business initiatives will require different information with varying depths or data richness in the CMDB. By focusing on a specific business priority, IT can provide outcome focused and easily measurable CMDB content.


Step 2: Leverage the Power of Dependency Mapping


Without accurate application information or maps, IT personnel cannot easily work in a top-down fashion—from sensing a problem with a business service to isolating the infrastructure element (or elements) causing it. From the bottom-up perspective, an IT organization proposing a change to a component must be able to easily work upward in the infrastructure to determine which business services are at risk due to the proposed change. Dependency mapping enables both top-down and bottom-up views of the relationships between IT assets and business services.


Starting with a pre-built data model, a rich library of discovery patterns and flexible control over what patterns are applied enables IT professionals to get the right information into the CMDB. By taking an automated approach, IT can support the business priorities while simultaneously benefiting from increased efficiency.


Step 3: Federate (Share) with Existing Repositories


Valuable data resides in other tools and solutions, hence your CMDB should offer federation, or the ability to share data, and reconciliation capabilities for businesses to leverage information in legacy systems, asset management systems and data repositories. Notably, industry standard ITIL v3 concept of a Configuration Management System (CMS) also emphasizes the need for federation.


CMS creates a common view of business services by providing access to information across IT silos, thus facilitating an IT organization transformation from a focus on technology to a focus on business outcomes driven by the services IT provides the business. By using a federated approach to a CMS, IT organizations can access information across teams and tools, resulting in faster, better, business-aware decisions that improve business service quality and cost.

Federation should be used to:


  • Link to additional metadata about configuration items (CIs) such as financial information from asset management systems.
  • Get deeper configuration data on specific technology domains such as network management tools.
  • Obtain pre-processed information found in other systems or products such as Sarbanes Oxley Act compliance.

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