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Get the CMDB Right

Advice for building a configuration management database system that works for your company.
Jun 14, 2007

Jennifer Zaino

Analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates has some thoughts for those organizations planning on implementing CMDBs, which contain the details and history of each configuration item (CI) and the relationships between them, and CMDB systems, the ITIL V3 nomenclature that takes the concept up a notch as the containers for multiple CMDBs.

In a webinar Wednesday, EMA VP Dennis Drogseth presented some recent research findings on the topic, along with guidance for making this work in your organization.

  • On the status of CMDB adoption:

    There’s a definite upswing, EMA reports, but most organizations are still in the very early stages. Twenty-four percent of respondents to its recent survey, who’ve already done their initial vendor selection, are still in the planning vs. deployment stage, and 28% are less than six months into deployment. That’s in contrast to just 10% that have been in deployment for more than two years.

  • Who’s in charge:

    Generally CEOs, CIOs or, at the least, VPs either are have some awareness of, are supporting or helping to fund these efforts, but it’s usually those at the director level who generally do the actual team coordination.

    Most organizations have two levels of teams involved: In addition to a core team, there’s usually a distributed team representing CI ownerships across various functions who coordinate to define requirements and shape the system.

  • Build it or buy it?

    There’s still a substantial amount of in-house development, but the action for the base system is moving to third-party software vendors. Most in-house development is revolving around customization of third-party tools to fit customers’ environments.

  • CMDB priorities today, and tomorrow:

    Today it’s configuration management, according to the survey. But Drogseth noted that in focal interviews incident and problem management came out as key concerns, as respondents are trying to create a closed loop system in which they can support high levels of service management in context with how changes are made.

    Governance and compliance become more important in 2008, with 57% citing these as long-term CMDB priorities.

    “IT governance is an important requirement for maintaining the integrity of CMDB systems,” Drogseth says, and clear views of the CMDB system as it performs will increasingly be in demand.

  • On the relationship between ITIL and the CMDB:

    Nearly 50% said they began their CMDB deployment with ITIL training, but 7% said they had no ITIL training and 24% didn’t start with such training.

    A point of interest, Drogseth says, is that there’s a strong correlation between those who had ITIL training and those who consider their CMDB efforts to be very successful.

    “Process tends to get minimized in too many environments, which have too much of an interest in purchasing technology,’” Drogseth says.

    And so much of a CMDB is related to politics and processes, requiring gaining buy-in from traditionally silo’d IT organizations with their own tools, data and reports.

  • Who’s specifying your CMDB schema

    Nearly 60% of respondents said they did it themselves, and 5% said their vendors handled it.

    “We usually recommend a dialog with the initial logic and requirements being defined internally, and then for a detailed implementation, have a dialog with the vendor,” Drogseth says.

  • To federate or not to federate:

    “ITIL V3 almost eliminates the notion that a full-fledged CMDB system is anything but federated by definition,” Drogseth says. “But you have to start with something concrete that brings value, and a single system may just be it.”

  • Defining Success:

    Ten percent of respondents consider their deployments to be very successful. These deployments are characterized not only by the use of ITIL training, but also by having clearly defined schema, a tendency to update the CMDB system more frequently, going in with expectations that the CMDB system will demonstrate break-even ROI in one year, and an understanding that politics vs. technical issues are the toughest factors going forward.

    Most importantly, Drogseth says, “no one regretted moving into a CMDB. They all felt it was necessary — inevitable.”

  • This article appears courtesy of bITa Planet.com.

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