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CFIA in 4 Easy Pieces

CFIA remains a fuzzy concept but it's really not that hard, writes ITSM Watch columnist Hank Marquis of itSM Solutions.
Sep 22, 2006

Hank Marquis

You may have read about component failure impact analysis (CFIA) if you are IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certified. Many know that somehow CFIA is related to problem and availability management, yet it remains at best a fuzzy concept for most.

CFIA is a very effective tool for understanding how configuration items (CI) can impact the availability of an IT service, customer or user group. CFIA is an important tool for improving quality as well.

CFIA is a structured way of working that avoids the common pitfalls of off-the-cuff or processes-less way of working so common in most IT shops. CFIA helps you avoid focusing on what you and your team already know and thus stopping short of getting to the true root cause of a failure.

While CFIA is impressive sounding, it is really just a way of evaluating (and predicting) the impact of failures, and locating single points of failure (SPOF).

CFIA can:

  • Identify CIs that can cause an outage;
  • Locate CIs that have no backup;
  • Evaluate the risk of failure for each CI;
  • Justify future investments; and
  • Assist in CMDB creation and maintenance.

    All it takes to gain these benefits is an Excel spreadsheet or some graph paper. Following are the three steps to success with CFIA:

    Select an IT service, and get the list of CIs, hopefully from configuration management, upon which the IT service depends. If there is no formal configuration management database CMDB, then ask around IT for documentation, paper diagrams and general knowledge.

    Using a spread sheet or graph paper, list CIs in one column and the IT service(s) across the top row. Then, for each CI, under each service: a.) Mark “X” in the column if a CI failure causes an outage; b.) Mark “A” when the CI has an immediate backup (a.k.a “hot-start”); and c.) Mark “B” when the CI has an intermediate backup (a.k.a. “warm-start”)

    You now have a basic CFIA matrix. Every “X” and “B” is a potential liability. Every “A” is an opportunity to improve responsiveness.

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