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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 : http://pinkelephant.com/AboutPink/PinkNews/030110.htm


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
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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.
  • Gil Tzadikevitch HP Software R&D Service Anywhere
  • This account is for guest bloggers. The blog post will identify the blogger.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mary is a member of HP’s ITSM product marketing team and is responsible for HP Service Anywhere. 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. She also has product management experience in the ITSM industry. Mary has a BS in Computer Science and a MBA in Marketing. Follow: @MaryR_Colorado
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Olivier is Product Line Manager for the HP Configuration Management System (CMS) which is comprised of UCMDB, UCMDB Configuration Manager, the UCMDB Browser, and Universal Discovery.
  • 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.
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