The least effective way to begin a CMDB deployment is to simply assume that by having the software in place and feeding it with assorted data you're building a system that will magically bring you value. Just for one thing, the data may be inaccurate, incomplete and inconsistent. Instead, you may have installed a Pandora's Box — an administrative nightmare without clear benefits.
That's why I like to stress "relevance" and "use case" when planning a CMDB initiative. While it's true, the CMDB System can and should evolve, and the data, and in particular the interdependencies captured and modeled through the data, can bring surprising and critical insights over the years — just having a fat, amorphous database in one place is a sure way to fail.
The following is a summary of CMDB/CMS-related use-cases based on observations from real deployments.
1. Change Impact Management and Change Automation
In many respects, change management is the very heart of the CMDB System. Change management includes Impact Analysis of changes to Configuration Items (CIs) and their associated services, as well as Change Automation for activating changes more effectively.
These two use cases are very much connected. The most logical sequence is to start with Change Impact and then proceed to Change Automation. In other words, get the visibility you need in place first and then automate. However, a better, more pragmatic rule-of-thumb would be: Begin with Change Impact Management, and automate whenever possible.
Some subsidiary use cases of Change Impact Management and Change Automation include:
- Governance and compliance in managing and documenting changes, configurations and access to configuration data.
- Data center consolidation — mergers and acquisitions — through what/if visualization and analytics that feed on strong insights into interdependencies.
- Managing change for the proverbial "move to cloud" — as virtualized and even public cloud environments become visible in terms of interdependencies and impacts.
- Modeling change for disaster recovery.
- Leveraging the CMS for facilities management and Green IT.
2. Asset Management and Financial Optimization
EMA's research on service-centric asset management underscores the fact that many IT organizations are looking for more cohesive approaches to managing assets throughout their life cycles. This includes understanding how all assets (CapEx and OpEx) relate to the critical business of IT in provisioning and delivering services from a costs/value perspective.
Some specific use cases for asset management include:
- Asset and inventory analysis informed across more sources for a more comprehensive, more reconciled, and far more usable view of "what's out there".
- Leveraging change-related interdependencies for asset life-cycle management (from procurement to instantiation to retirement).
- Improved, reconciled data and usage insights for compliance audits.
- Leveraging service-aware interdependencies for financial planning and optimization.
Dennis Drogseth is VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).