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Cooperation Between Vendors Over CMDB?

Mar 12, 2007

The IT Skeptic

I hasten to add that this is not a reflection on the individuals involved in this project. The backroom technical people at these organizations tend to be the decent ones. I worked for one of the companies in question for a long time, though I worked at the sordid, pointy end.

I don’t doubt the authors of the white paper are having entirely congenial discussions of honourable intent. When I refer to cynical or Machiavellian motivations I am talking about the companies as a whole, the executives who run them, and the games that go on between them.

Best Case Scenario

In the event the specification gets done (and it hasn't all ended in tears first), a formal standard must be promulgated. This is what is needed, and it is the stated intent in the white paper (“adoption and standardization”).

Standards gestate like elephants, so add another year or two. If we are lucky, some of the vendors will invest the millions required to support the standard in parallel with its development so they will release the software along with release of the standard. Look forward to that two or three years from now, best case.

What of the vendors not involved? Those already in the club probably figure the task of keeping the original six together is hard enough without encouraging more. Once they get to a standard then everyone else will follow along — they hope. They are taking a gamble. The risk is a competing proposal for a standard, or worse a competing standard. DCML, anyone?

I can’t help feeling this initiative would have greater chance of success if it were itSMF- or OGC-driven. Both parties have been conspicuously absent when it comes to driving the ITIL software industry, though either party would have perceived right to do so.

Their hands-off approach is one cause of a peculiar phenomenon: the software industry and their parasitic analysts have seized on the only bit of ITIL that involves a new technology, CMDB, and run off with it. Look at the press release, or a recent ITSM Watch article and a fascinating pattern emerges: The vendors themselves never refer to ITIL in quotes, and seldom is it mentioned in article text. It is left to itSMF to make the linkage.

The consortium white paper mentions ITIL twice at the start and several times at the end, and not at all in the body of the paper. It does not once cite the ITIL books on what a CMDB should be or do (although to be fair the blue book is so light on this topic that such a citation would be there to show respect more than for anything useful).

The ITIL trademark is not acknowledged (other than with a “®”), OGC is never mentioned, and there are no references. ITIL is not defined at any point. There will be explanations for all of these omissions, but I am a great believer in the Freudian slip. You judge.

Finally, this consortium does not operate under the umbrella of any of the existing industry alliances: OASIS, OMG, DMTF, etc. or of a standards body or itSMF or OGC. Apparently, this is so they can move quickly. If so, it isn’t working, yet. Once you guys get past a jotting of notes by some friendly geeks, let us know, OK?

The IT Skeptic is an ITIL professional and active itSMF member who, for obvious reasons, prefers to remain anonymous. More thoughts from the IT Skeptic can be found at IT Skeptic.