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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!


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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.
  • 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 (@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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
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