The World of Configuration Management Hurts, but Welcome

Configuration Managers, as well as configuration management, are abused in almost every way the IT world has to offer.    Where is the value?  What bug?  Where are your best practices? It costs HOW much?!  ITIL, ITSM, ITAM, CCRM, CLIP, and even transformative use cases like data center transformations, all want to make the CMS do something juuuuuust a little different.  Who is the owner?  Who decides conflicts?  When, where, what directions do the integrations integrate?  

But these are valid questions.   Where do we start?  Here's a hint:  remember building your very first "structure" as a young person?   Take as long as you like to think about it.

So despite delivering some fraction of the theoretical potential, it seems like there's always something else the CMDB could have done.  Didn't quite integrate with something, or perform quite as well, or wasn't quite customizable enough, or the UI wasn't quite friendly enough.    And you know what?  You're right.   There is a lot of entropy in this world.  Like your first floppy cardboard house or broom-handle lean-to, the result will equal the planning and foundation that goes into it.

How DO we survive in this world?  Community.    Collectivism, Community, and Communication.  Meaning, we form functional, product-oriented communities, so:

1.    Individuals can efficiently share many kinds of knowlege with the community - reduces and lowers risk of delays
2.    Individuals can efficiently benefit from a broader collective knowledge - easily share and preserve information
3.    Active communities can create a collective voice to the vendor - necessary and proper influence of product direction
4.    Captured knowledge can form half of the body of best practices* - knowledge that can't be produced elsewhere

This kind of community is not just a nice to have.  It's simultaneously a matter of survival, and a matter of excellence.  HP's CMS community is one of the strongest user communities in the configuration management space.  I have had the privelege to watch this from up close, by hosting a UCMDB / CMS practitioner's forum for over seven years now, first with Mercury, then with HP.   We hosted the 339th session today.  Session #1 was July 26, 2004 so just over seven years now.  So it works.  Ask some industry analysts how we have proven so many times how community helps the invididual practitioner as well as the vendor.  My "power of community" deck is on the HP Live net here

I've worked in almost every role in a software organization:  PSO consultant, engagement manager, practice manager, product management, product marketing, technical marketing, RnD developer, instructor, and solution architect.  I've also been a customer and a partner (the VAR/Channel kind, not the your-name-in-the-company-name kind.)    I've written some.

My current gig is bringing the world of configuration management best practices and community to the HP Reference Architecture, or perhaps vice versa.   Either way, I have high hopes for helping the HP CMS community as well as other product organizations by helping rationalize how the CMDB and CMS work within the IT Value Chain.  The IT Value Chain is a broader and more consistent working model for the major IT processes than traditional ITIL use case paradigms.   There are guaranteed to be some steel-cage matches as we hammer this out!  Stay tuned for these.


This blog introduction is pretty much who I am.  I've tried to introduce you to myself as well as my (professional) world.  Configuration management isn't one of the glitzier professions, so humor must be taken wherever it is found.  I have difficulty writing without humor, so forgive me if I stray from sounding like the CMDB pixie.


I appreciate all of you who have endured my "captivating"** writing style.   Please feel free to engage any time with questions, citation requests, even more configuration management questions.  

Think for yourself, have compassion, improve and enrich yourself and others, and make the world a better place.


* The other half is produced by the vendor and is in two parts:  Overarching architecture and strategy, and product-oriented practices - bookends to the practitioner-based operational and practical design best practices.


** Someone once described my writing style as "captivating".  I don't know whether he meant that in the good way or the bad way.

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About the Author
Jody Roberts is a researcher, author, and customer advocate in the Product Foundation Services (PFS) group in HP Software. Jody has worked ...

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