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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…

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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.
  • 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.
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