IT Service Management Blog
Follow information regarding IT Service Management via this blog.

Displaying articles for: February 2010

Do You Have a "Data Center"?

If your IT environment is big enough to call it a "Data Center", I think you're big enough to need a CMDB.


I decided to write a follow-up to my post from last week which discussed the controversy around who needs a CMDB.  The gist of one argument was around what size IT environment needs how much and what kind of configuration management processes and tools.


There are many opinions on this.  And they're all of course based on lots of experience and customers.  But sadly, not a lot of actual scientific research (Here is an article on some older but actual scientific research).  So a disconnect remains.  Here are some of the opinions:

  • Only enterprise -sized IT needs a CMDB.  Everybody else can do it in their heads.

  • Config management is a side job of all the other ITSM products.   It's a slice of process and integration between every service transition.  You don't really need any code.

  • ITIL got it wrong.  "Config management" is really a function of service management and it's friends.  The help desk has a database and it gets the job done.   The asset manager does discovery.  Not much more.

  • Change Control is the biggest part of configuration management, so it's a one-trick pony.  Nothing else delivers any ROI.

  • Only certain use cases require more formal configuration management.  Most don't.  An easement of sorts of the Change Control camp.

  • Configuration management is a valid discipline, but it can be done with far simpler and cheaper tools like spreadsheets.  Desktop-based or chair-based solutions are all most people need.

  • Even a small IT organization has a large volume of configuration changes.  Here is an article from someone who understands.

  • The "Pink Floyd" approach:  IT does configuration management by pouring distrust upon anything done, thereby exposing every weakness, no matter how carefully hidden by the IT staff.  The CMDB is built on fear.  Popular with government.  Expensive, but ruthlessly effective.  This one isn't an "opinion" per se, but it's definitely a confirmed approach.  With love to all my federal  friends of course!


While no one solution fits all, "no solution" fits no one.    Pretty much everyone needs and is doing configuration management, but not everyone calls it that or knows that's what they're doing.   So whether or not you know it,  whatever you call it, you're doing a good bit of configuration management if your IT environment is big enough to call it a "Data Center".


Is this a good example of configuration management?


Consumer:  "Who's on PVALX762W?"

Provider: "Email."


If you have a "data center", eventually, this doesn't work.  The simplistic question above is realistic; however, in practice the answer can range from a simple answer to one with a few thousand components.  Even for a data center with maybe 100 servers, of which there are many thousands - it is impossible to simultaneously 1) grow and change normally 2)  maintain SLAs and 3) do without a programmatic approach to configuration management.  ROI only comes after investment, and ROI can't be estimated very well until you have experience, which is difficult to obtain before investment.


So, spreadsheets, part-time products, process-only solutions, and that leading contender "no technology" cut it less and less as we understand what config management is really doing for  IT.  A CMDB doesn't have to be a Big Fabulous Deal.  It can help a three-closet "data center" as well.


Tell me if I've touched any nerves, begged any questions, or have posited any other logical phallacies.  Let's have some of those controversial opinions.  Please talk to us.  Thanks!


The 2010 ITIL Certification Process Awards Gold - but is anybody watching?

In 2010, the world has come to Vancouver, Canada to compete in individual and team athletic pursuits.  And, by most reports I have seen, TV ratings are up for the XXI Olympic Games.  Over the past ten months, several ITSM software vendors, including HP, have come (not physically, but you get the idea) to Buckinghamshire, UK to try their luck and skill in an ITIL certification process for the chance of winning recognition at the Gold, Silver or Bronze level.  But do customers really care?

I recently spent several weeks managing HP’s effort to have HP Service Manager 7.1 evaluated through the U.K. Office of Government Commerce (OGC) ITIL certification process.  After all of the hard work, I can’t help but wonder, where’s the customer benefit if all ITSM vendors don’t agree to be measured by the same yardstick? 

To be sure, this particular yardstick is world-class.  OGC created the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) more than 20 years ago, and has officially endorsed this particular compliance framework to audit vendor products, documentation and processes.  There are some other well-known ITSM vendors (e.g. BMC, CA and IBM) who have also gone through this certification process, but many have not, and have no intention of doing so.

So what did it take for HP to win OGC Gold-level certification in four processes:  Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management, and Service Asset & Configuration Management?  Well, Gold status indicates that, above and beyond passing the standard certification requirements, multiple companies provided clear written evidence that they have implemented and are actively using HP Service Manager 7.1 in their production environment, to facilitate and automate the particular ITIL process being assessed.  I am talking about formal correspondence on company letterhead containing screenshots and report examples as proof of usage. In a phrase, no smoke and mirrors allowed.

 While some organizations, such as Pink Elephant and Gartner, have offered informal ITSM verification services for years, the OGC endorsement program gives vendors of IT Service Management products a single official standard to meet (by the developers of ITIL themselves).   PinkVERIFY has always looked at the functionality, process automation and intent in terms of ITIL compatibility, whereas OGC appears to be looking at the ITIL compliance of software functionality (and self-documenting, to boot), process integration and automation “by the (ITIL) book”. 

 The OGC certification process also included comprehensive questionnaires with questions covering terminology, workflow/automation, functionality and integration.  At every turn, the accreditor assessed our compliance with ITIL v3 principles.  My team conducted remote software demonstrations (using HP Virtual Rooms) that highlighted HP Service Manager’s functionality, integrations, and documentation (both on-screen documentation and online Help Server documentation).  This is where the out-of-the-box capability of our ITIL v3 best practices really helped because it generated a wealth of “in-context” help messages and “context-specific” drop-down selections.  Obviously the OGC people are tired of ITSM software demos in which the help documentation is on another part of the installation CD, not really integrated with the tool itself.

 Now the OGC is flashing the four Gold medals HP received (more than any other vendor) on its website, but do customers really notice?  I certainly hope they do.  The official OGC auditing program looks at two areas of compliance – functionality (with a specific focus on how it supports ITIL process integration) and product documentation.  It also looks for accurately represented processes and functions.  It is based on the premise that successful ITSM needs more than a point tool that supports a single ITIL process.  ITSM requires a comprehensive solution that automates the service as a whole by integrating across its important underpinning ITIL processes.  It’s more like a 4-person bobsled team and less like the luge individual event.

 In the end, are certifications considered good grades in school and nothing more?  If a customer makes their software and implementation selections based on a criteria that is not dependent on the use of a standard yardstick, will they have any higher risk of obtaining an incorrect “fit” to their needs?  Is certification the price of admission to reach “world-class status” as an ITSM vendor?  On the other hand, is casual word of mouth from a colleague down the street a stronger influence than rigorous functionality evaluation conducted by an independent accredited third party?

 My perspective is that customers will be able to compare offerings more easily if they have all been vetted against the same IT tools standard.  Having a single standard for ITSM vendors to audit against gives customers a single point of reference and will make their purchase decisions easier and more informed with less subjective debate.

Q: What do you think? Should ITSM vendors keep striving to find a place on the awards podium? 

Click on the following link and to learn more about what Pink Elephant is saying about HP Service Manager software :

DDMI 7.61 Available Now! - my first post ever!

I was thinking about what my first blog entry should be…I always believe I have much to learn from others, so perhaps this is a good ice breaker for me.

I would like to let you know that HP has recently released Discovery and Dependency Mapping Inventory (DDMI) 7.61.  This is a maintenance release and a follow up to the 7.60 release, meaning it is focused on small changes and product fixes for issues found since the 7.60 release.  If you are a DDMI customer, with a valid support contract, you can download it from our Software Support Portal by choosing Patch Download option.

In this release we have added:

-          Agent and scanner support for Microsoft Windows 7

-          Agent and scanner support for Microsoft Windows 2008 R2

-          Agent and scanner support for MAC OS 10.6

-          Enhancement to the SAI editor which allows you to separately see Package rules and Version Data rules that exist in the SAI.  This makes it easier to work with rule-based SAI entries, available since the 7.60 release.

-          Support for autofs file systems on Linux and UNIX systems.  This allows you to configure scanner to exclude auto-mounted file systems, which will reduce the amount of time to complete a scan, eliminate “looping” (some customers have reported that scan files effectively “hang”, since they can never complete the scan).  This means scans will be smaller and complete faster.

-          Identification of Primary IP address of a device.  This allows DDMI to consistently select the same interface when identifying and communicating with the device.

-          Improves identification of new CPU types.

-          Support for SMBIOS 2.6.1

Since Discovery and Dependence Mapping for Inventory (DDMI) is a product that interacts with target devices, it is important to keep it up to date.  I recommend that customers take advantage of the latest capabilities by upgrading their installations to the current release.  Our product team works to ensure that upgrades are highly automated to minimize possible disruptions in production environments. 


You Can't Buy a CMS from HP

A customer asked me recently, "If I bought a CMDB, and CMS is the next evolutionary step of CMDB, then can I upgrade my UCMDB to UCMS?".  A great question, but the answer is no.  Well, partially.  Actually, no again.  I'll explain.


There is no one product called a CMS, Universal or otherwise.  You have to build a CMS, because that's what a CMS is - a System, a group of components acting as a whole, not a product like a database or even an integration platform.  A CMS is a composite of YOUR authoritative sources, YOUR exact technology footprint, processes tailored to YOUR needs and environment, YOUR change management system, and so on.  You can't to go the CMS store and buy one of these things off the shelf.  Anybody who says otherwise is selling something  questionable.  I don't mean the odd vendor that might rename it's CMDB product to a CMS equivalent.  I mean a fully implemented CMS footprint.  This is something I believe ITIL got right.


Look at it this way:  You can buy a house.  But you can't buy a new house.  One can only buy materials to build a new house, but by definition it is not an existing house.    If you buy someone else's house, you're probably not going to get exactly what you wanted, there's usually a compromise or two.  If you pay to build, you get what you want, but you may pay a premium.  So it goes with systems technology.


What can you buy?  You can buy a CMDB.  You can buy solutions  like Service and Asset Management.  You can buy the services and consulting to install, integrate, and configure the them.  You can buy the knowledge and practices to run a CMS effectively and efficiently (actually, at HP that part is free.)  Once you do this, you will have a CMS.  But you will have built, not bought, a CMS.


And it's never as simple or straightforward as we want - these things can't be bought off with a different 'paradigm', or dazzling arrays of integrations tools or integrated products, or pressing things like asset managers into service as a CMS.  You have to ask questions like "What are the use cases?" and hand-knit the standards bodies of practices that matter to your business into real processes, YOUR processes, that work exactly with YOUR naming conventions, YOUR security, and so on.


Sure, everybody needs Change Management, everybody has something  for their barcodes.  But real-world details will quickly tangle the best-laid turnkey solutions into a laundry list of specific versions, integrations, and user requirements, and you need to be prepared for this.  The wise reader will take this as a friendly, tacit warning to not believe everything you read about hypey areas like configuration management (see my last post for a bit of discussion on that - to me it's a bit of a mystery why something as mundane as configuration management is still awash  in industry buzz, but here we are).


This is why it is not possible today to provide these specifics in an untangled bundle that makes sense for a given IT environment.  The best CMS is one built to exacting standards for a specific set of operational purposes.  And a funded one - don't try to go build one of these with your boy genius who always seems to have extra time on his hands.  Street cred doesn't cut it - application and LOB owners are usually spiffy dressers and business savvy, not geeks, although they may speak fluent Nerdish.  But back to funding - you need funding and sponsorship to talk to everyone you need to.  And a seasoned professional who knows how to work with people and surf your organization like a pro.  Think solution, not product.


A CMS is correctly designed and implemented as a solution, part of and interactive with the other ITSM and business players, not just a "federated database" or "integration platform".  This is a strategic argument, not a semantical one.  You have to keep your destination in mind, as my colleague Chuck Darst writes.


So you can't buy a CMS  from HP - or anyone else, for that matter.  You CAN buy a solution that fits with where you are on your  curves of organizational execution maturity and technological capabilities.    A more fruitful question might be then, "How can I build the right CMS for me and all the configuration management data integrity goodness that it brings?"  Now we're talking.  Talk to us.  Let us know if you agree?  Thanks for reading our blog.


Labels: CMDB| CMS| ITIL| Jody Roberts

Pragmatic ITSM - Keeping the Destination in Mind

Keeping the Destination in Mind

I’m going to start addressing some of the key points that I see as foundational to the topic of pragmatic ITSM. I submit that “keeping the destination in mind” is one of the most important, but this can be somewhat tricky. Here are some thoughts that maybe I can tie together. First, destinations will be different based on an individual enterprise’s needs, size, capabilities, maturity, market, etc. Second, paths to getting there can be wildly divergent. I heard this phrased as driving to your destination compared to sailing there. Third, and key, is how much is good enough along the way. This is an essential point as there is definitely a well deserved sentiment in the industry of tilt towards good enough.

Any of these topics could consume pages, but I’ll try to keep this brief. On the first point of different destinations, a lot of our most successful implementations (a very pragmatic goal in itself) begin with some type of exploratory workshop. A couple of related points, the service desk is arguably the most inter-connected point/function within or across IT operations. So related to destinations, other key processes that need to be part of the service desk ecosystem needs to be considered. What data needs to be shared between processes and functions needs to be considered. And this doesn’t mean that everything needs to be addressed at once. Again, there are typically different paths to the destination. My last thought here is that incident management, more of the classic help desk and trouble ticketing, tends to be most mature. Thinking through the desired destination often reveals higher impact and return areas that can be addressed. Examples could be adding discovery and dependency mapping information and keeping this current which can significantly improve the effectiveness of change and configuration management.

A bit more on the paths which I was already discussing above, one of the hot topics in the industry is what to address first across – people, process, and technology. I subscribe to the order listed. I have had people point out that process and technology can be interdependent. As sometimes the technology is fixed, processes have to be adapted to fit what is already in place. This definitely makes sense. A variation that I increasingly see is the role of the managed service provider (MSP) resulting in the help desk (incident management) specifically being outsourced. Another key point on paths is that there is a huge body of industry work that can be leveraged in getting to an effective and efficient destination. People don’t need to cut their own paths through the jungle or bull doze roads getting there. ITIL by its definition is a library of best practices which goes straight to the heart of both the people and process parts of a path. Interestingly, the idea of best practices further intersects the good enough theme. Some vendors, HP included, provide out-of-the-box or built-in best practices. I made a brief comment around this in my initial post. But, I submit that leveraging such capabilities – as opposed to creating them yourself or too heavily customizing them – provides a solid, good enough starting point. I’ll save more on this for another post.


Chuck Darst

Labels: ITIL| ITSM

HP Software Optimizes its Server Assets through a Consolidation and Virtualization Initiative

HP Asset Manager enables HP division to reduce servers by 30 percent and operating costs by more than 20 percent.

HP began a major technology infrastructure consolidation project to reduce its worldwide data centers from 85 to six.

About this same time, HP also began implementing  strategic growth plans  for its sofware business. It began to acquire software companies, spurring fast-paced business and process integration. HP more than tripled the number of employees wihin HP software while greatly enriching the solution portfolio Hp offers its customers. This rapid growth also enabled HP to vault into a leadership position in end-to-end enterprise business technology management: the company is now the thrid largest enterprise application software company in the United States and sixth in the world. Acquiring new subsidaries -over a half dozen software companies altogehter-also added to the complexity of HP's technology infrastructure.

Each new acquisition became its own island of computing. Each new software development lab came to HP with its own servers and technology management processes. Each new software development lab came to HP with its own servers and technology management processes.

And while the environment needs to be heterogeneous—HP software must run on all commercially available servers.  HP software developers must have a variety of systems available for testing HP applications—it is important to standardize as much as possible, to improve manageability and keep costs down.

“As HP’s software business became significant to HP as a whole, both strategically and from a revenue perspective, we knew we would have to achieve high standards for operational productivity,” notes Larry Wong, Director of Engineering, and HP Software Solutions.

Wong, who leads a team to consolidate HP software’s R&D labs, cites a number of areas the company targeted for improvement—areas familiar to most technology companies. . The time to provision new servers was taking too long is one example. Many older servers were kept in service beyond their life cycle and often unnecessarily. There was no way to understand, at an enterprise level, the status of servers, such as which systems had reached end-of-life or were fully depreciated.

To address these issues, HP needed to understand what systems were deployed in its software labs, Wong notes. So his team turned to HP Asset Manager Software, an application that allows companies to collect technology asset information into a centralized database. Could mention- starting stages of implementing DDMI.

Push button asset reporting

To implement the software, Wong leveraged another HP resource: the HP Software Professional Services organization. “HP Professional Services provides the expertise to set up HP Asset Manager quickly,” Wong notes. “Their technicians know what questions to ask. They helped us get us up to speed quickly.” Reporting was really the heart and soul of what HP Labs needed to have a successful implementation. They were desperate for good metrics that provided visibility into the changes within their infrastructure. HP Professional Services helped Wong’s team appreciate the powerful reporting capabilities of HP Asset Manager.“Before HP Professional Services consulted with us, we didn’t realize how powerful the reporting capabilities are,” Wong says. “We learned how to set up Asset Manager to support ‘push button’ reporting, replacing the manual reporting processes we relied on before.”

Another way HP Professional Services helped was by integrating HP Asset Manager with other applications deployed in the software lab infrastructure. The team used HP Connect-It software to link HP Asset Manager to a homegrown server reservation system already in use within HP software.. As a result, when users place requests for servers, the requests and request status are logged by HP Asset Manager. This enables a more comprehensive understanding of user needsand lets HP identify opportunities for users to move or share server resources which is critical to maximizing server capacity and usage.

Inventories take minutes, not weeks

Once deployed, HP Asset Manager benefits were immediately apparent. “The last time we inventoried our servers, each of our labs had to assign people to do the work manually,” Wong says, noting that there were about 40,000 servers in use within the software labs at the time. “It took each lab about a month to complete the count.”

Today, inventorying the systems is completely automated. Inventories are updated continually, so the data is always current.  Performing the inventories doesn’t require labs to pull staff from other, more important tasks allowing them to focus on developing software.

HP is enhancing Asset Manager’s capabilities even more, Wong adds, by putting RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags on its servers. When servers are physically moved, data about the move will be captured by HP Asset Manager. “We’ll know where our servers are as soon as they’re moved from one room to another,” Wong says.

HP Asset Manager also gave Wong the necessary tools for the lab server consolidation project. He could quickly determine how many servers were deployed in each software lab and how much square footage each site was dedicating to its servers. This formed a basis for planning the consolidation effort. “We had the data we needed to decide which sites we wanted to target, in which order.”

Since beginning the consolidation effort, Wong continues, HP reduced the number of servers in its software labs by around 30 percent, with a comparable reduction in the square footage required to house its servers.

Reducing the number of servers also made the infrastructure less costly to operate. “We’ve reduced our operating expenses by 14 percent,” Wong says. and we have done this by automating the entire end –to-end lifecycle asset tracking process.  The goal is for continued process improvement and cost savings. HP software is even beginning to implement HP’s Discovery and Dependency Mapping for Inventory (DDMI) tool for better physical and virtual asset discovery.


Foundation for virtualization

Because HP Software collects comprehensive data about the servers deployed in its labs, it is also positioned to better manage those servers. “Once you know what you own, you can make judgments about why you own it and how you are using it,” Wong says. “You can look at the age of your hardware, for example, and determine whether you have an aging infrastructure.” This can help managers make better budget projections as they plan upcoming projects and infrastructure upgrades. “Each business unit within HP reviews their equipment quarterly and plans what they need to purchase in the upcoming quarter,” Wong says. “Today, our software lab managers can pull reports from Asset Manager. They quickly tell whether they need new servers for planned projects.”

HP is also now better positioned to negotiate pricing on servers it purchases from third parties. “We can consolidate purchasing of third party systems across the entire software business,” Wong notes.

Managers can also determine whether there might be servers in other shared labs. This becomes even more significant as HP embarks on the next step in its software lab consolidation: virtualization. “As we consolidate and upgrade our server infrastructure, the mix of systems will include a higher percentage of HP BladeSystem server blades,” Wong says. “We’ll be vitalizing portions of our environment to support faster provisioning and improve our ability to share server resources both within labs and across the enterprise.”

Once virtualization is complete, for instance, new servers can be provisioned within a few hours, instead of taking days or weeks. “Users can go to our reservation system and request a server, and it will be dynamically allocated,” Wong says.

And software labs will be able to share servers more fluidly. Server resources underutilized by one lab can be offered virtually to others.

Having a more comprehensive view of its assets will also enable HP to more effectively identify servers no longer needed, Wong adds. “It gives us a higher level of control. We can make better decisions about when to depreciate equipment, when to scrap it, and when to re-use it.

“We’re on a journey toward making our infrastructure more efficient, productive, and cost-effective,” Wong says. “HP Asset Manager has proven an invaluable tool in that journey.”

Business outcomes:

·         Supported 30 percent reduction of HP software lab servers

·         Server reduction has reduced lab operating expenses by 14 percent

·         Clear understanding of what servers are deployed, and where

·         Improved ability to plan, budget



Who Needs a CMDB, Anyway?

 I am disturbed.

 Particularly about the amount of hype that surrounds the discipline and implementing technologies of configuration management.  There is much more hype here than there should be.   Shouldn't it be an unexciting, mature, ubiquitous process  baked in to IT already?  Apparently not, if the volume and tone of blogs like the IT Skeptic are any indicator.  Great stuff there.


Who needs a CMDB?  Anybody who will pay for one?  The Fortune 500?  Anyone with more than (pick a number) CIs?  Someone with a use case?  Somebody with a  big  honkin' reconciliation engine?  One could imagine  choosing any of these answers depending on one's background, ergo the hype.  


If you are a vendor or consultant, you may ask yourself "Is this is a rhetorical question?"  It's not.  Some feel  CMDBs generally have not provided the expected ROI and tend to discount their value, relegating them to toys for the rich or as unproven gadgets, insinuating poor choice of budget investment.  The good news:  people care deeply about finding the truth, on both sides.


What we call configuration management today in past practice has traditionally been implemented in disparate technologies intended to do something else, but did a piece of something .  Auto-discovery, asset/inventory/service management, application mapping.  These apps all do/did some configuration management-like things.  With emphasis placed on whatever the product that you were  familiar with did.  It follows that most people's opinions stem from  formative experiences with technology, scale and scalability, the kind of business demand present, and industry-specific  drivers such as  security or  regulations and standards.


This converging-but-still-disparate landscape has created a kind of configuration management tower of Babel:  how can we build anything if we don't speak the same language, agree on what a CMDB should be and do and for whom?


Let's not forget a primary CMDB contender, "no technology".  Configuration Management in sufficiently small shops is done by people, in people's heads.   It's very controversial what the limits of size and complexity are that require a configuration management tool.  There are  as many variables and forms for such an equation as there are human characteristics related to the competency.


However, while people (vs. a tool) can and do perform configuration management,  there is almost no shop whose business has not suffered to some degree at the hands of human error.   The corollary to this is that you won't see value in a CMDB until you've felt the wrong kind of heat.  If you've ever experienced costly downtime because of an outage caused by miscommunications in change management, then it may be a little easier to accept that you might have saved your business a bit of pain if you'd had something to help your change management left hand know what the right was doing.


For example:  Configuration management has always been done by Bill The Alpha Geek, and all the configuration data for the entire shop exists in Bill's head.  No serious outages have ever been correlated to Bill not being there one day, or having not known a particular fact, or having not had a good enough memory to never need to write anything down or put it in a computer.  Bill is not going to be a big fan of CMDB.


Now let's consider another persona, Bob, the Operations Director and Bill's Manager.  It's a medium-sized shop,  well under the fortune 1000, that has experienced rapid growth.   The current application infrastructure resembles a very complex, finely-tuned bowl of spaghetti, understood by only a few people in the company.  Historically Bob has depended on Bill for all the answers:   We need to upgrade our ERP app, what servers are part of ERP?  Bill knows.  What other apps and services does ERP depend on?  Ask Bill.  If I unplug the CIO's desktop, will ERP continue running?  Check with Bill.  If our second-hand Cisco 2600 finally craps out, will our ERP still be ok?  Riiiight. 


So if you're Bill, Bob is skipping without a rope.  And if you're Bob, Bill is empire-building.


But today, another server was added, so now there are 101 servers, pushing Bill over the edge.  There is now a non-zero chance of Bill forgetting something.  It's like the old pickup sticks game with a couple thousand sticks.


And you're telling me this shop can do it's configuration management with people?  Maybe with MENSA people or Marilyn Vos Savant or somebody.   But sooner or later, Bill's going to miss something and your online retail web site is going to go down, or maybe you can't collect money or manufacture your product for a day.  IT happens.


But isn't there a simpler solution than one of those hypey, expensive CMDBs?


Herein lies the distinction based on those formative experiences I mentioned earlier:   You can't appreciate the need for a CMDB unless you have truly experienced the onslaught of bad changes and angry application owners that result from not managing your configuration data properly.  Yes, you can do some spreadsheet kung fu.  But Configuration management is about more than just record-keeping.  It's about a programmatic approach, it's about comprehensive, quality data, always available, and secured.


The CMDB isn't extraordinarily sophisticated technology.  But does a few very powerful, fundamental things,  for everyone, all the time, consistently.  Best thing next to Bill, when he's awake and not on vacation.    And if CMDB saves you a day's worth of downtime over, say, a year, then there's probably some nice crunchy ROI in there.


What do you think?  Drop a comment and let us know!  To be continued...


Let's Get This Party Started - A Short Look Back at the Evolution of Configuration Management

The year was 1989, the end of a wildly successful decade.  Too bad I was in college or I would have taken advantage of the 80's to become a mega-zillionaire and build my own Caribbean meditation retreat.  Failing that, at least the 80's produced one of the first successful (but sometimes pejorative) “Stone Soups” of IT,  - The IT Information Library, or ITIL.  ITIL is loosely (and I use the term loosely) a compilation of what we had in the past called SOP’s, Standards and Procedures, Run books, and what have you.  It basically said; you need a help desk (and someone to actually staff it).  You need to know what and where all your stuff is.  You need to try to do something about problems that keep coming up.   Other stuff.

Yeesh.  We need a bunch of books to tell us that?  Didn't we already know all that?  Well, then, why did Data Processing Shops (I'll use some classic, period-accurate, nostalgic terms) still have problems keeping their "onlines" up? 

Turns out, the books left the hard parts up to the readers, for example, how to actually implement anything.  The books, preferring to remain timeless, don’t discuss any technology. 

To the ITIL founders' credit, they did try to show how some of the small organizations within DP (DP = IT) fit together, again loosely.  It was a kind of cartoon version of IT and how its existence was rationalized, linking daily activities with how and why they mattered in a business sense.  To understand the emergence point, why IT evolved, it is helpful to understand what it was like before.  

The CIO of the distant past was a well-understood persona (and often at that time called something like the Data Processing Manager).  He probably owned IBM mainframes.  And boy did IBM know how to sell to this person.  When the IBM salesman showed up at your door, he told you what you were going to buy, you signed the contract, the IBM truck backed up to your data center and unloaded rows of lovely water-cooled DP goodness.

ITIL was brought about and an evolutionary shift in buying behavior and selection criteria took place (this is an extensive topic which cannot be discussed at length here). No longer were CIOs fed a hardware and software plan that they did not really need.  Smaller business had to pay attention to what IT was asking for.  And so the evolution began and businesses got smart and started to ask questions such as:"How much does it cost to keep our Accounting Department running compared to how much it costs to keep our Complaint department running?"  How do I know what to charge back to my users?  “I don’t know” got to be a less and less acceptable answer.  

Despite this, it still wasn't so easy to talk about "process" in IT in those days.  Process??  A curmudgeonly System Programmer might say the "process" is, Mr. MBA, that I yell over my cube wall to the Accounting Programmer or whoever and tell them what to do.  I don’t need a “process”, you’ve got to be kidding me.    No really, this was a pervasive, uncommonly-questioned way of running IT; driven by the dominance of a  polarized selling motion (albeit a very successful one), and an enormous difference in subject matter expertise between the IT providers of the services, and the business who paid for and consumed the services.

The Business Process Engineering Wave of the early 1990's cost many DP managers their jobs.  It cost IT professionals their comfortable, dareisay cushy, jobs as mainframe stewards and forced them (including me!) to re-learn much about IT. Especially, about how to think about and address all those uncomfortable business questions like "What did you do today?" 

So what DID you do today? What are we doing today in this evolutionary shift of how we leverage IT to run our business? Is ITIL really that important or just “Kool-Aid”? Add a comment and let me know your thoughts? To be continued…

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
About the Author(s)
  • HP IT Service Management Product Marketing team manager. I am also responsible for our end-to-end Change, Configuration, and Release Management (CCRM) solution. My background is engineering and computer science in the networking and telecom worlds. As they used to say in Telcom, "the network is the business" (hence huge focus on service management). I always enjoyed working with customers and on the business side of things, so here I am in ITSM marketing.
  • David has led a career in Enterprise Software for over 20 years and has brought to market numerous successful IT management products and innovations.
  • I am the PM of UCMDB and CM. I have a lot of background in configuration management, discovery, integrations, and delivery. I have been involved with the products for 12 years in R&D and product management.
  • Gil Tzadikevitch HP Software R&D Service Anywhere
  • This account is for guest bloggers. The blog post will identify the blogger.
  • Being number two in the ITSM install-based software industry, we feel it's our duty to enlighten and educate you about everything ITSM. We'll pose questions, analyze research and discuss the newest industry trends. Welcome!
  • Jacques Conand is the Director of ITSM Product Line, having responsibility for the product roadmap of several products such as HP Service Manager, HP Asset Manager, HP Universal CMDB, HP Universal Discovery and the new HP Service Anywhere product. Jacques is also chairman of the ITSM Customer Advisory Board, ensuring the close linkage with HP's largest customers.
  • I have been working at HP AM R&D for more than 7 years. I led the transition of the product and now I am one of the R&D Managers driving transformation and roadmap of the HP AM product.
  • Jody Roberts is a researcher, author, and customer advocate in the Product Foundation Services (PFS) group in HP Software. Jody has worked with the UCMDB product line since 2004, and currently takes care of the top 100 HP Software customers, the CMS Best Practices library, and has hosted a weekly CMDB Practitioner's Forum since 2006.
  • Karan Chhina is the Product Manager for HP Universal Discovery and has worked with discovery & dependency mapping and configuration management product line for the past eight years.
  • Software technical product manager for HP Strategic Analytics--Executive Scorecard (XS) and Financial Planning & Analysis (FPA). Generate technologically sophisticated IT Performance Analytics use cases in collaboration with fellow HP product managers and design partners. Liaison for XS & FPA product managers, customers, and development team. Draw upon experience and industry pulse to influence the definition of product strategy and roadmap. Primary implementer of POCs for key elements of the company's offering including executive scorecard, financial planning and analysis, and process analytics..
  • Mary (@maryrasmussen_) is the worldwide product marketing manager for HP Software Education. She has 20+ years of product marketing, product management, and channel/alliances experience. Mary joined HP in 2010 from an early-stage SaaS company providing hosted messaging and mobility services. Mary has a BS in Computer Science and a MBA in Marketing.
  • Michael Pott is a Product Marketing Manager for HP ITSM Solutions. Responsibilities include out-bound marketing and sales enablement. Michael joined HP in 1989 and has held various positions in HP Software since 1996. In product marketing and product management Michael worked on different areas of the IT management software market, such as market analysis, sales content development and business planning for a broad range of products such as HP Operations Manager and HP Universal CMDB.
  • Ming is Product Manager for HP ITSM Solutions
  • Mohamed Nada: Having about 15 years of experience, practical and academic, throughout these years, I’ve been always focusing on both strategic directions side by side with achieving critical business goals Mainly focused on IT operations management, strategy and control, my preferred vendor is usually HP, as I believe HP has one of the best Enterprise portfolios among the current trending technologies
  • Mr. Suer is a senior manager for IT Performance Management. Prior to this role, Mr. Suer headed IT Performance Management Analytics Product Management including IT Financial Management and Executive Scorecard.
  • Nimish Shelat is currently focused on Datacenter Automation and IT Process Automation solutions. Shelat strives to help customers, traditional IT and Cloud based IT, transform to Service Centric model. The scope of these solutions spans across server, database and middleware infrastructure. The solutions are optimized for tasks like provisioning, patching, compliance, remediation and processes like Self-healing Incidence Remediation and Rapid Service Fulfilment, Change Management and Disaster Recovery. Shelat has 21 years of experience in IT, 18 of these have been at HP spanning across networking, printing , storage and enterprise software businesses. Prior to his current role as a World-Wide Product Marketing Manager, Shelat has held positions as Software Sales Specialist, Product Manager, Business Strategist, Project Manager and Programmer Analyst. Shelat has a B.S in Computer Science. He has earned his MBA from University of California, Davis with a focus on Marketing and Finance.
  • Sr. Product Manager of HP Asset Manager, my 12 year experience in IT Asset Management gives me combined technical skills and business practice knowledge. I have a special focus in Software Asset Management and Cloud Billing.
  • Oded is the Chief Functional Architect for the HP Service and Portfolio Management products, which include Service Manager, Service Anywhere, Universal CMDB & Discovery, Asset Manager, Project and Portfolio Manager.
  • I help IT leaders to understand how well IT is performing from a business perspective.
  • I am Senior Product Manager for Service Manager. I have been manning the post for 10 years and working in various technical roles with the product since 1996. I love SM, our ecosystem, and our customers and I am committed to do my best to keep you appraised of what is going on. I will even try to keep you entertained as I do so. Oh and BTW... I not only express my creativity in writing but I am a fairly accomplished oil painter.
  • WW Sr Product Marketing Manager for HP ITPS VP of Apps & HP Load Runner
  • Vesna is the senior product marketing manager at HP Software. She has been with HP for 13 years in R&D, product management and product marketing. At HP she is responsible for go to market and enablement of the HP IT Performance Suite products.
  • A 25+ year veteran of HP, Yvonne is currently a Senior Product Manager of HP ITSM software including HP Service Anywhere and HP Service Manager. Over the years, Yvonne has had factory and field roles in several different HP businesses, including HP Software, HP Enterprise Services, HP Support, and HP Imaging and Printing Group. Yvonne has been masters certified in ITIL for over 10 years and was co-author of the original HP IT Service Management (ITSM) Reference Model and Primers.
HP Blog

HP Software Solutions Blog


Follow Us
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.