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Competing Vendors to Develop CMDB Standards

May 23, 2006

Liz Roop

A Proactive Approach

Consortium participants hold that creating an industry standard for federation and accessing IT information will facilitate communication between CMDBs, streamlining what is now a largely manual process.

With a standard way for vendors and tools to share and access configuration data, organizations can use their CMDBs to create a more complete and accurate picture of IT information spread out across multiple data sources.

This will make it easier to keep track of changes to an IT environment and help organizations better understand the impact of changes they make to the IT environment.

“In a nutshell, they’ll have the capability to start to get an aggregated view of all their key IT information, regardless of whether it’s stored in the same company repository or not,” said IBM’s Telford. “In the meantime, if that data can be integrated and federated, it can be used in integrated solutions that they’ll be able to implement with ITSM, like having an integrated process model for change deployment or availability management.”

For the vendors, the ability to work from a set of industry standards will allow them to advance their individual ITSM initiatives by developing solutions that can truly optimize, automate and align processes.

Reserved Optimism

The idea behind vendor-driven CMBD standards has been received enthusiastically from only some industry sectors.

“Clearly, any step forward by the vendors that supports the end users being able to implement ITIL effectively is welcomed by us,” said Brian Childers, communications and public relations chair, itSMF USA Board of Directors.

“Such standards will go a long way towards making CMDBs and other ITIL-related software tools more effective in helping customers better understand and manage their complex IT environments and should be of significant benefit to all parties involved,” stated Brian Jennings, chairman of itSMF International, in a press release announcing the consortium.

Others, however, are a bit more reserved. Gartner, for example, points to the history of multi-vendor cooperation in the management arena, which Colville and Haight characterize as “just short of abject failure,” as a reason to approach the news with skepticism.

Citing the failure of past efforts—including the International Organization for Standardization’s Open Systems Interconnection model; the Organization for Advancement of Structured Information Standard’s Data Center Markup Language; and the Distributed Management Task Force’s Common Information Model—to gain wide-spread vendor adoption.

Add to this list the absence of key management functionality vendors such as Microsoft, and discovery and configuration mapping vendors such as Mercury and Symantec, and Colville and Haight suggest “prudent skepticism as to the likelihood of seeing not only the completion of a standard, but also ultimate market (and vendor) acceptance.”

Reservations notwithstanding, Gartner believes that by the end of 2008, "this effort will enable potential benefits for improving the return on investment associated with CMDB implementations. Keep in mind, however, that among the largest beneficiaries of this proposed standards may be the vendors themselves, which may improve their own integrative capabilities.”