What's the value for a CMDB or CMS?

Where exactly do the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and the Configuration Management System (CMS) add value or return on investment (ROI) for an organization?

 

There is so much more to this question than meets the eye, so let's be clear on what these two entities do not do. They do not provide miraculous sets of discovery encompassing every configuration item (CI) under the sun. Nor do they come out of the box  and immediately give you the ability to have data passing back and forth with ease.

 

The hard truth of the matter is that both a CMDB and a CMS initiative require an extensive planning effort as well as architectural knowledge of your infrastructure. And, this means tons of pre-work for you and whichever vendor or partner you choose to design your initiative with.

 

CMS

 

So, let's take a look beyond the planning and design phases of these types of projects to look at where many organizations do realize value as part of their efforts. Based on my experience and in talking at length with my colleagues, there are a handful of use cases or solutions which tend to get a little more attention than the rest.

 

Here is a "short list" of where we've seen customers achieve value for the CMDB or CMS:

 

  • Data Facilitator/Consumer - This is when there is an integration between your IT Service Management (ITSM) software and the CMDB. When you extend beyond just a discovery tool with a CMDB, folks refer to this as a CMS in the most generic sense of the word--especially so when ITSM processes are in play for specific CI types. 
  • Discovery Baseline - More often than some want to admit, manually managed data becomes less and less trusted over time. Discovery comes into play with a CMDB or CMS with Asset Management software  by reinstating immediate trust in what you own. Discovery tells you what you have now, not what you documented six months ago.
  • Software Compliance - Now this is a relatively new one. Here at HP we've worked with the Oracle LMS team to outline our Oracle discovery with HP Universal Discovery so that the set of raw data reports output can be provided to Oracle in lieu of someone coming onsite. Imagine the value of doing this proactively and in advance of the annual audit. 
  • Data Center Transformation - Change is a constant across IT.  One thing is for sure, many companies look to consolidate their data or move from one location to the next in search of lower TCO. Using discovery and CMDB to understand how the infrastructure aligns to Business Services or Applications is all about timing. There is manual effort for sure, but knowing what changed and how recently as a part of your move group planning/analysis is critical.
  • Change/Impact Analysis - When there is a change to the business, it's imperative to understand it in a way that is proactive as a part of the Change Management process, not just in hindsight. The use of discovery to understand how CI's tie together and what the impact from one CI to another is essential to having robust Change Management. Discovery and CMDB together with ITSM can streamline this in support of specific impact analysis goals for Change Management.
  • Business Dashboard - This one is a bit trickier and is definitely a loftier goal for customers to obtain because some or most of what occurred above may have already taken place. When you have a dashboard representation of your most critical Business Services and Applications, it requires serious commitment. In short, imagine one location for all of your Applications or Business Services. No more spreadsheets. No more ad-hoc databases or other locations. The singular goal is the dashboard representation from IT for the business.

All of these are compelling reasons to implement a CMDB or CMS as a part of your environment. However, there are so many more that I would be remiss if I did not state that directly. What I've mentioned only scratches the surface and is woefully incomplete, admittedly.

 

The value of CMDB or CMS

 

So, let's come full circle and answer some of the questions about the value. A CMDB or CMS initiative has the potential to reduce costs and capture waste within your hardware, software and applications space. There is the ability now to fulfill audit requirements for Oracle without an onsite audit. With a CMS, organizations are able to centralize their efforts for Change/Incident/Problem Management or view more accurate data (think discovery) in the network operations center, i.e.. NOC.

 

I've hardly scratched the surface, so let me leave you with some questions here.

 

What is your use case or solution that involves a CMDB or CMS? Where and how have you obtained value for your organization with a CMDB or CMS initiative?

 

Share your part of the story here so others can learn within our community.

Comments
clarryvager on ‎08-28-2013 11:55 PM - last edited on ‎12-12-2013 06:06 AM btmiller

Hi ... I read your post thoroughly... You gave such wonderful information about CMS clearly...

It's very useful to all of us..

Justin_Harrison | ‎09-09-2013 10:41 AM

Great article. Thanks

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