Tag Archive | "CMDB"

CMDB – How do I get started?

Tags: Best Practices, Business Service Management, CMDB, CMS, IT Management, ITIL, ITSM


For several years, analyst told us that you must have Discovery in order to do a CMDB project.  Sure… I’ll buy that concept, but it doesn’t mean I have to start with it.  I think discovery does wonders for a CMDB, as long as your CMDB has a good way to drink from the firehose  :)

One obvious starting point that is typically omitted is leveraging existing tools that do different types of discovery.  Connecting into the existing management tools to get inventory types of data about the devices is powerful.  Several of the tools are able to determine the type of hardware, OS installed and a slew of other tidbits.   Integrating with other tools such as Help Desk, Change Management and Asset Management systems can provide even more information such as the applications or services being used, potentially a list of the end customers/users in order to provide a impact mapping.

The typical difference between a management system that has discovery capabilities and a full fledge Discovery product is that the Discovery product also does relationship/dependency mapping while the management tool understands different levels of health and availability.  Both are useful, both are potentially good starting points.

A good starting point to feed the CMDB might be to connect into existing management tools, bring in the CI’s it knows about, the attributes it understands and then expand from there.  There are several silo’s of data to pull from.    Discovery tools typically work on schedules and sweep the network, integrating with the existing management tools provides a more up-to-date, closer to real-time update to the CMDB…. oh wait, that assumes the CMDB is able to consume it in that manner, the list of vendors just got real small.

– Tobin

 

Social Business Strategy – Forrester Blogs

Tags: Business Service Management, CMDB, Forrester, Social Media, Trends


The Hub Commentary_

Applying a social interface to IT may sound crazy to the technologists, however, if you move past the initial reaction and think about many of the initiatives from IT and the response from the business, it may just be the interface that drives acceptance.  We have all been exposed and most (even I must admit to it) have used, adopted and/or totally embrace the social media explosion.  Business Service Management is  practice and part of that practice is the interactions with our customers and how they want to interact with IT.

I consider myself middle of the road in adoption as I still like the human interaction and speaking with colleagues and customers face-to-face, however, those interactions become planned and raise in relevance given the accepted methods of quick, short interactions that occur all day long with text messages, emails, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, RSS Feeds, you name it.

The earliest form was chat and we all know it has been a long standing request for most service and support software to deploy chat methods to ask for help.  This could be a long post, but let’s keep it simple.  Social Media interfaces for the sake of it will fail, Social Media interfaces applied in the right situations could be wildly successful.  A couple of examples that pop to mind are:

Service Dashboards – Most of us think of these as one-way and very limited information and thus they are useful and provide information during a service impacting event and I would debate how much they are used outside of IT during smooth running hours.  However, Service and Support is a great example of where a social interface may make sense.  The experience is 2 way – giving, taking and sharing information.  A smart interface to accept and present information rather than merely accepting a new ticket.  Tobin’s power outage post is a great example.  Instead of entering a ticket, he clicked his way to the right information.

Configuration/Inventory/Service Information: Wikipedia is a great example of keeping information accurate and relevant through the use of consuming audience.  Now apply that what is typically thought of as the most technical of IT projects, the CMDB or Configuration Management System.  We all use a variety of technical devices and we all have varying levels of comfort and/or time to deal with servicing them, however, up-to-date information is required for service and support.

At the very least, we want to know when we will be affected by maintenance or service outages.  What if we could subscribe to communities of users of the various applications we use day-to-day and could find the power users of Excel or Adobe Presenter in our organization to help us with that important presentation?  The classic support challenge has been the questions of how to use a piece of software, the users of the software are the best choice outside of the supplier and finding those who may have figured out a clever function might be helpful.

Just  a couple of applications that come to mind.  I agree with Nigel, the Social Media interfaces are coming, we use them in daily life and should seek to evaluate the best method of interacting with our customers.

How socially accepted is your IT?

Michele

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Social technology is certainly a hot topic, but for many CIOs the emergence of islands of social technology across the enterprise feels like a touch of déjà vu.

IT has been here before, having to clean up islands of automation that left organizations unable to coordinate information and react rapidly to changing market dynamics.  (Read Full Article…)

Insights from “Operationalizing Cloud” Research – EMA Blogs

Tags: Best Practices, Business Service Management, Cloud, CMDB, EMA, Trends


The Hub Commentary_

Great post by my friend Dennis.

Michele

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EMA has just collected some new data regarding how IT organizations are seeking to assimilate cloud services from a top-down, service management perspective.   (Read Full Article…)

Top 10 reasons a CMDB implementation fails

Tags: Best Practices, Business Service Management, Change, CMDB, CMS, Configuration, ITIL, ITSM, Trends


Below are some of the common reasons that CMDB implementations fail.   They are in no particular order.

Lack of Management Buy-in

Face it, one group is going to be the buyer and installer of the CMDB, there are many other groups/departments that will be needed to help maintain the data as well as use the data.  If there is no edict to leverage ITIL processes, there is a good chance that the CMDB project will fail or more accurately… not get used.

Owner of CI’s do not have easy access

I’ve seen several times that the change management team/group are the buyer/install/owner of the CMDB.   There is nothing wrong with that, the problem comes in that they do not have buy in from the CI owners to help maintain (or validate) the CI’s, or the CMDB solution is cumbersome and it is implemented in a manner that makes it hard for the CI’s to be maintained.  The Change Management team doesn’t want to own the CI’s (and can’t/shouldn’t), but the owners are not able to easily access the CMDB.

Garbage in, garbage out (and/or stale data)

There are lots of sources of data to populate and maintain the CMDB, exporting XML from one system and importing into another system is only part of the process of ensuring data accuracy.  XML exports are not the only ways to integrate with other sources also.   Make sure the vendor has ways to filter out noise (who cares about an SSH session from an admin workstation to the server, it’s not a dependency).  If the there is to much data, it may be hard to find anything, if there is inaccurate data, no one will trust the CMDB.  Find the middle ground.

Lack of third party Integration

There are many reasons to connect to the products to pull in additional details.  You can think of some of these applications like mini silo CMDB’s.  The HelpDesk system knows anything and everything about customers, the asset system knows tons-o-things about servers.  Integrating with different sources is a great way to get started as well as ongoing maintenance of a CMDB.

100% or NOTHING

Do not fall into the trap of holding back releasing the CMDB to the company until it is completely done.   I understand that there needs to be a certain level of data witin the system before there is value, I understand that there needs to be processes in place to maintain the data and then there is the accuracy challenges.  The point is, pick a few slices of the entire pie, define what it is, set the expectations, roll it out, get some internal wins (and learn from it), then go after a few more slices of the pie.

Hard to search/find things

The interface must be intuitive, the end users shouldn’t have to understand a database schema in order to search for CI’s.   Many of the users will only log into the CMDB a few times a year.  A user should be able to hit some internal website, get forwarded to the CMDB interface, issue a search, press print and run off to their DR planning meeting (or Solaris migration project, etc).

Over designed/engineered Schema

For those doing a roll-your-own CMDB, good for you, it is nice that you are spending time to design the database schema and planning for the future… don’t get stuck planning for 2020, your plans for the CMDB and schema WILL NOT BE ACCURATE, accept it.

One Stop Shopping

We are looking for a CMDB, this is a good time to purchase a new Change Management System, Problem, Help, etc, etc, etc…. and you have just delayed purchasing and rolling out anything for the next 18  – 24 months between the pilots and lengthy executive signoffs due to costs and implementation time frame.   Again, good idea, they need to work together in harmony, you need a plan, you need interoperability, but you also need to solve some business problems sooner.

Bottom Up = WRONG approach

If you’ve ever talked to the builders or owners of a CMDB, many times it quickly gets down into the weeds of attributes, relationships, types of CI’s.  This is all interesting information and details but… who cares.   In the end, who is the target audience, what is it that they will need to get out of the CMDB.  Take a top down approach to the implementation.  If you have a clear vision (or atleast a goal of a vision), in turn it can clearly define the types of CI’s you will initially need, potentially the specific attributes and dependency information.   It probably help you determine what types of integrations the CMBD might need with other system in order to populate and maintain the CI’s.  If you take a bottom up approach for the implementation of the CMDB, you will get stuck in the weeds and you may not have a clear answer if the design/approach/solution/product/etc will meet the end users vision/goals.

Okay, for those of you not counting, I only listed 9, in the comments below… give me your 10th one.  Don’t be shy, share a 10th one or a funny story about one.

Tobin

EMA Radar for Business Service Management: Service Impact Q3 2010

Tags: Availability, BSM, Business Service Management, CMDB, CMS, EMA, IT Management, IT Management Tools, Performance, Service Level


Free Summary – EMA Radar for Business Service Management: Service Impact Q3 2010  – Enterprise Management Associates(Read Full Summary Report …)

The multi-layer Service Catalog

Tags: Best Practices, Business Service Management, CMDB, CMS, IT Knowledge Exchange, IT Management, ITIL, ITSM, ITSM Solutions, Service Level, Service Providers, Trends


I ran across this article the other day by Doug Mueller and it reminded me of the multi-layer Service Catalog.  I’m not sure if this is an actual term or not, but it’s a good description of what it is.  If you take a very large organization that is broken up into distinct areas such as the teams that support:

  • Hardware & Operating Systems
  • Technologies (web servers, databases, messaging bus, etc)
  • Applications (email, timesheet, payment processing)

For mature IT groups, they typically will drive towards a list of supported hardware and support operating systems, they will also typically drive towards a list of support technologies that will be supported within the environment.  On top of these, some common applications (or services) are then provided to the employees such as email and the corporate web server.

If you walk through this, each of those teams has their own Service Catalog (and as Doug said, a Service Request Catalog).   Someone in the technology area, after significant research wants to make this new technology available for sharing documents.  The person requests from the hardware group for hardware and an operating system to be provisioned for this technology to run on.

Someone in the application area then decides to tie the document sharing, email, web and video together for a collaboration solution, so they in turn request services.  The end users then request access to the collaboration service.

I have seen a few different approaches to this such as different links on the internal website to request hardware w/OS and another set of  links to get applications/technologies installed to simple help desk requests.   Regardless, while it may not be a full fledge electronic Service Request Catalog at each layer, there are lists of approved hardware, operating systems and technologies for many companies.

Tobin

Business Service Management and CMDB

Tags: Availability, Best Practices, BSM, Business Alignment, Business Service Management, CMDB, CMS, IT Management, IT Management Tools, ITIL, Service Level


So you have a console that has your Business Service Management views.   You set up the views to show the key Services you are providing to your end customer(s) (EMail, Databases,  CRM, etc).  You somehow are bringing in monitoring data in order to light up the service views in order to show some type of condition and health. You figured out how to measure the Service Levels and provide all of these details back to the end users and management in a dashboard.  The question is, how do you maintain it?

If you have been following ITIL, one approach is to integrate the BSM solution with the CMDB solution (assuming they are different solutions).   The CMDB probably has discovery populating it with new CI’s and updates to CI’s.  The CMDB should have inputs to other systems for additional details around the CI’s.   In the end, the CMDB is the location for the factiods around the Services such as all of the CI’s comprising the Service, relationships between the CI’s, current configuration of the CI’s and so on.   If those details are available, why wouldn’t you use it to drive the way in which IT is managing the environment.   As things change within the enterprise, the CMDB is updated and in turn the BSM views should auto-magically update also.

Tobin

BSM Stories from the Trenches — Tale of the CMDB

Tags: Business Service Management, CMDB, CMS, Configuration


Tale of Customer Service, Cost of Service Impact, Mitigation of Risk and the CMDB Heart!

This is a story about a manufacturer, a retail buyer and the consumer and how IT management touches them all. This is the first in a series of Business Service Management (BSM) Stories from the Trenches that I’ll post describing the benefits of a single-pain-of-glass (I did mean the pain of glass!) and management of complex infrastructures as services to the business and the customer driving revenue and growth.

The Set-up . . . . .

One day a CIO receives a call from a friend, another CIO, but a customer, a big customer. The conversation quickly turns to “how come we are having difficulty placing orders with you? Should we buy from someone else?”. What’s going on…..

* Each hour we process >$100,000 worth of orders
* We experienced ~60+ hours of server down time last year
* $6M in orders have been impacted by the down time

How are we going to improve the availability and quality of the customer experience and reduce costs in a very heterogeneous, complex environment?

The Solution . . . . .

We need to know what we have and what it does in order to better measure quality and service levels. This requires 5 things:

* Define what are our services, prioritize them and align to business priorities
* Configuration Management Database (CMDB) that is a intelligent model of the infrastructure
* “Live”, single-pane-of-glass bringing life to the intelligent model of the infrastructure
* Governance over the model to ensure it is accurate and in compliance with approved changes
* Automated Service Level measurements, live and historical trends

We have monitoring in place, but we do not have a way to pull it together and marry it in a meaningful way to the infrastructure and we need to create a Service View of the infrastructure. This will require a lot of integration to meet the “live” requirement so that we can take action in real time and avert service impacting events in the future and govern that the model remains accurate and ultimately automate our service level measuring and reporting.

This is where Novell’s Business Service Management came in to integrate, build the intelligent service models, automate the model building and governance and provide the service level dashboard.

The Benefits . . . . .

* Service Level reporting is manual and costly, now that has been automated – approx 2 FTEs 5 Days each
* >25% service quality improvement with “live” service monitoring and averted service impacting events
* BONUS: Discovered >25% of logins were failing leading to a customer satisfaction challenge when placing orders that was corrected

The Intelligent Service Model and the automation’s improved customer satisfaction, quality of service, averted service impacting events and controlled costs. This is not an uncommon story for customers of the Novell Business Service Management solution. The heart of the solution is the “live” integration and intelligent service model making sense and relating bits of disparate data as super objects within the model enabling operations teams to service align, manage costs, mitigate risk and deliver quality services driving the business and growth.

Monitor, Manage, Measure and Report on your Workloads Intelligently!

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