• When something is built to a design, we should be able to evaluate it
in terms of the design's intentions.
• That design should include behaviors.
• Since the behaviors become impacts, and the impacts become
qualities of service, successfully managing a service has dependencies
on acknowledging its design.
• A design explains what kind of behaviors are attributable to (and
expected from) what kind of conditions and what kind of parts.
• We can trace increasing disillusionment with the viability of configuration
management back to two things:
• mangled CMDBs
• unresolved battles between information modelers or between management systems
• Contention and confusion becomes typical due to mismatched and
• The following discussion is an argument for a certain type of common ground,
based on a simplified semantic representation of how management cares about
• In the argument, there is a stipulation: if we don’t need an item then we don’t
care about it, and if we do need an item then we need it in a certain way.
How to use this discussion
Note: This discussion requires thinking abstractly.
• STEP 1: ignore the vocabulary you currently use
• STEP 2: do not replace terms provided in the discussion with
“substitutes” or “synonyms” from outside of the discussion
• STEP 3: Use the terms provided in the discussion to go label things
you already know and to imagine organizing those things per this
discussion’s provided terms.
• STEP 4: Assess whether the results are easier to understand by mixed
audiences, compared to what you had before.
What are “items”
• An item is anything that is distinguished as a single instance of
something that can be provided, counted, added, moved, or
• The entirety of this discussion is about items.
• Any item has a form and a presence.
• There are two kinds of form: Logical and Physical (=As Is)
• There are two kinds of presence: Virtual and Actual (=As If)
• There are four kinds of items. Each kind is a combination of the form
(“As Is”) of something and the presence (“As If”) of something.
The semantics of Item Types
• FORM (=As Is)
• Logical is based on Definition – a fixed selection, that we made, of properties
• Physical is based on Properties – a detectable set of inherent (not attributed)
• Using a café (physical) as an office (logical) is not unusual.
• PRESENCE (=As If)
• Virtual is based on “the Required” – a state recognized based on a need
• Actual is based on “the Absolute” – a state occurring regardless of need
• A hardback novel (actual) acting as a doorstop (virtual) is not unusual.
• The semantics of item types has only one objective: to provide
identification directly related to the value of an item’s impact on a need.
• Any given instance of a given type of item is distinguished and tracked for
the same reason as all other instances of that item type: its intended
• Any type of item can be produced from instances of a variety of different
subordinate types. For example, different kinds of tools can produce the
same kind of system.
• There is no compelling reason to track an item without reference to its
identified type. Different types are not meaningfully “synonymous” with
each other and cannot substitute for each other. For example, the only way
a tool can be a service is to fully qualify in service terms regardless of what
it presents as a tool.
Items in Configurations
• A “configuration” is simply an arrangement of parts that is established
for a known purpose. By definition, a configuration is intentional.
• An Item Model can prescribe a desired configuration of that item
• Any type of item can itself be a configuration of subordinate types of
• The only reason to use the term “configuration item” is to signify a status of a
management responsibility for an item, meaning in this case that:
the arrangement of the parts constituting
the item in deployment
is an intentional arrangement
meant to be sustained
at the designated level and scale of the type of the item.
• Only some entities qualify for that status at any given time.
• The reason to manage item configurations is to support the purpose of the arrangement
(the type), not to support the item.