Inside this issue

Exclusive Interview
with Gartner Analyst
Ronni Colville


     Gartner has stated in
     the past that...
What is driving increased customer interest in configuration
management databases (CMDBs)?

First, it is important to defi...
components need to be included up front and which ones will be
subsequently added as the CMDB gets used more broadly. We a...
drivers for CMDBs are coming from different environments, and often the
drivers are coming together, one may wind up havin...
What are some of the business benefits companies will
realize as a result of a successful CMDB implementation?

There are ...
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Gartner Cmdb Article

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Gartner Cmdb Article

  1. 1. Inside this issue Exclusive Interview with Gartner Analyst Ronni Colville Gartner has stated in the past that Exclusive Interview with Gartner Analyst "configuration Ronni Colville on Configuration Management management is at the very heart of IT Databases service management." What Gartner has stated in the past that "configuration do you mean by this? management is at the very heart of IT service What is driving management." What do you mean by this? increased customer interest in Configuration management is nothing new. Enterprises have worked with configuration it in many areas of their infrastructure, but now we view configuration management management as a very integral part to many of the different disciplines databases (CMDBs)? that IT must manage on a daily basis. What approach does Gartner recommend It is the keystone to enterprise management in general. Today, as we for building a CMDB? move toward more of a service management persona for IT, where IT must become more business-focused, configuration management becomes What are some of the a truly critical component. It involves understanding the relationships and primary challenges dependencies among various elements that make up a service. that you see Configuration management is the combination of all IT components: companies facing in networking, servers and applications, and many other pieces that make up developing CMDBs? an IT service. What are some of the Historically, many configuration management initiatives have failed technology because the information needed to document what is required for an IT requirements that service is found in too many different places and cannot be pulled together companies should in real-time, or even near real-time. Because these efforts have often consider when been done manually, they are not real-time, or even near real-time planning their CMDB enough to actually be able to show benefit to the business. project? What are some of the A new breed of tools has emerged in the last 12 to 18 months that now business benefits enable IT to view the configuration of infrastructure components and their companies will realize relationships – hierarchically and peer-to-peer. We call these tools IT as a result of a Service Dependency Mapping solutions, and they do exactly that: discover successful CMDB and document the relationships between the components that make up an implementation? IT service, focused in particular around the server and applications world. We believe that IT service configuration management is a pre-requisite for achieving overall success around service-level management and around IT service management itself. However, it certainly is not an island unto itself. IT service management also requires other pieces to be in line around change, incident, availability, performance, and other management processes.
  2. 2. What is driving increased customer interest in configuration management databases (CMDBs)? First, it is important to define what a CMDB is, because frankly it may have a few different identities, depending on how the client wants to use it. A CMDB is a federated system of discovery information in a centralized view where the data from various feeds is rationalized. It will start to show the relationships between components hierarchically, and peer-to-peer, in a way that allows IT to deliver a service to their end-users or businesses and show how that service is behaving and performing. A CMDB will also include capabilities centered around risk analysis for impact of changes. It may include the change workflow or integrate with other change tools that will facilitate workflow management to make sure that the right sign-offs are in place before changes occur. So the broader the reach of a CMDB, the more processes one is going to need to have integrated with it. Today, many of the drivers around CMDB initiatives have a great deal to do with audit and compliance. IT organizations need to know exactly what systems and applications are actually installed, how they are actually configured, and how they are being used. With the number of changes and frequency of changes, this driver becomes a critical path to high availability and security compliance as well. Another driver, much in line with that, deals with the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which is a process methodology that many enterprises are beginning to use to ensure that their processes are defined and documented and can work together across management disciplines. Once these ITIL initiatives are underway, IT is compelled to look at how automation layers on top of the processes. Even looking at Sarbanes-Oxley, we are finding that some enterprises want to discover and document their financial systems and how these systems are configured. Additionally, I think there are some broader drivers, like architecture personnel looking at the next wave of how to pull all of the IT infrastructure elements together and how to move IT to a business service. Asset management, as it is moving closer to IT in its persona and its role, is now also looking at not just the financial aspects of an asset, but also the configuration of relationships among other assets. Once the CMDB initiative gets started and enterprises have an accurate view of how devices are configured, the CMDB is going to enable effective risk and impact analysis so that IT staff can understand the impact of planned changes before they are implemented. What approach does Gartner recommend for building a CMDB? To start with, in order to build the database, one needs to have several processes in line around it. The projects need to be bounded; they need to have a beginning and an end. The enterprise needs to have goals in place. IT needs to understand the actual area of pain that it is trying to address. Is it some kind of audit and compliance exercise? Is the goal to align processes with automation or broaden the enterprise's asset management view? Once the goals are established, IT must set up a team to run the project, and fund it. Whatever the driver, one also needs to be aware of which infrastructure
  3. 3. components need to be included up front and which ones will be subsequently added as the CMDB gets used more broadly. We are finding that some IT shops are driving this through server-based application initiatives, with the goal of understanding what is actually in their data center server environment. In any case, one must be sure to think through the integration points that the CMDB is going to need – we call that the federated view. So any one of these drivers alone is not going to establish one CMDB. There are many different components that make up any one of those drivers, in which case they have to be federated or integrated into this single view. Hence, each element-specific CMDB (discovery from server or network or desktop configuration tools) will be the feeder into this centralized view. The result is a CMDB that can pull it all together and present a visual representation that enables both IT and business users to make more meaningful decisions. Organizations can probably expect to maintain as many as six different sources for the CMDB (from some of the silos I have mentioned, among others). In many enterprises, there are different inventory tools already in place. We recommend trying to automate as much as possible, and what we mean by that is to try to leverage these discovery tools. If possible, try to integrate them into this single view, because with more automated efforts, the data will be more accurate and real-time, or near real-time. The foundation of a CMDB begins with an accurate inventory based on accurate discovery techniques. Technologies that are providing discovery do this in a variety of ways and depict graphical representations of elements in different ways, with varying depths depending on the discovery technique. Consequently, it becomes critical to assimilate disparate tools and technologies around discovery. What are some of the primary challenges that you see companies facing in developing CMDBs? One of the biggest challenges that we have seen across all IT areas is process maturity, but it becomes even more prevalent in the CMDB area. Many enterprises are focused on process re-engineering or have already "matured" their processes around each individual silo or IT domain (networking, servers, storage, etc.). But a CMDB requires cross- coordination amongst different silos. To be able to document processes individually, and then tie them together, is a mammoth task that requires quite a bit of synergy across what are usually more individualized approaches. Each organization needs to take responsibility for ensuring consistency and accuracy in their own data feeds. What is meant by that is, even though all the views are going to be federated into a single view, each silo still needs to be responsible for the day-to-day changes and the day-to- day views that are required for managing their own domains. For example, server personnel need to discover what is on the servers for day-to-day tasks that do not necessarily percolate up to the CMDB. Mapping IT components to business processes has historically been very challenging, not just from a technical perspective, but from a cultural perspective as well. So as new tools emerge that can help enable this effort, it begins to push IT into a more real-time, or near real-time, persona. The tools will provide a presentation to IT and to the business in such a way that the views are representing real-time activity associated with the delivery of IT services. One of the most important things that we are finding is because the
  4. 4. drivers for CMDBs are coming from different environments, and often the drivers are coming together, one may wind up having an asset management person working with an architecture person. Or, in the case of audit and compliance, security people may be working with people in the data center. What really needs to happen here is the team must coalesce around the initiative itself. The enterprise needs to bring together a set of people who are responsible for the overall project and who can also serve as active liaisons into the individual domains. It becomes critical to sell this particular project both upwards to the executive team and – I would characterize this as especially critical – to sell it downwards back into the domain silos that are affected on a day-to- day basis by the kinds of occurrences that might be analyzed in the CMDB. What are some of the technology requirements that companies should consider when planning their CMDB project? There are many, many requirements that will go into this initiative, depending on which pain point a company is trying to address or the driver behind the initiative. The main goal will have a significant impact on what one needs to consider when looking at the tools. If a company is trying to make this a very broad brushstroke across its IT infrastructure, inclusive of myriad different elements, then discovery of those elements will be critical. While the key requirement today is discovery of applications and servers, elements such as switches, storage, and other infrastructure devices will ultimately require representation in the CMDB. If the infrastructure is large and the initiative focuses on servers, tool requirements might include scalability. If there are a large number of different application types on the servers, requirements might include depth of discovery within a system. If there are a variety of platforms, then the requirements should include breadth of platforms discovered. If the problem is real-time audit, then the requirements should include having dependency maps represent real-time, or near real- time, activity versus what we call scan-time (in which the data is only as accurate as the last scan or event trigger). There are quite a few technical requirements that can be considered for a particular CMDB. Again, however, the problem being addressed will determine the most important requirements. Certainly there will be some trade-offs depending on the problem being solved. For example, if one is really focused on the server infrastructure and data center, then the breadth of applications that are auto-discovered with these tools is critical. Today the focus is primarily on packaged applications, but an intuitive and simple mechanism for discovery and identification of homegrown applications is highly desirable. Some of the other things one needs to consider are the integration points to other systems management tools for discovery. Additionally, impact analysis becomes a critical function if the goal is to improve change control. Does the tool have its own impact analysis or does it integrate with other change and impact tools? Does the tool visually map all the different components in a very intuitive way? The visualization becomes quite critical in this particular area of the project because it must present the infrastructure in such a way that the dependencies and the hierarchy can be understood and become the point of definition for an IT service.
  5. 5. What are some of the business benefits companies will realize as a result of a successful CMDB implementation? There are plenty of different benefits that infrastructures will be able to gain from a CMDB. One that would be most desirable for the majority of enterprises today is the ability to do risk assessment and to be able to have a view into what the IT infrastructure looks like, both before and after a change. This allows one to minimize inadvertent changes that would take down a system, or make something unavailable, or cause the system to become vulnerable in the case of a security breach. If an outage is caused by a change, having a CMDB that has change impact analysis would allow IT to anticipate problems based on known dependencies and thus better plan for changes. Therefore outage incident rates will go down. Problem management will be also be improved because the CMDB will also be able to assist with root cause analysis. Change management will be improved because now one will have a means of tying together the workflows into the actual configuration changes that might occur on a system or set of systems. Automation is required to handle every bit of today's infrastructure complexity. Therefore, as one gets a better view of how automation is going to affect each component in the infrastructure, there will be benefit there as well. Frankly, I think the biggest benefit is the one that allows IT to become more business focused. It is going to allow them to understand how a service is defined and how each individual piece of the service can impact another part in order to see the holistic views that the business user really needs to understand. Once IT begins to move in that direction, that is where the value of a CMDB will really come through. Ronni Colville Bio: Ronni Colville is a member of the IT Operations Management group in Gartner Research. Ms. Colville's area of research is software configuration, which includes traditional desktop management as well as solutions and technologies for laptops, personal devices and servers. Her latest area of research includes the Configuration Management Database (CMDB). For 10 years prior to joining Gartner, Ms. Colville was a senior networking specialist at IBM, where she assisted Fortune 100 clients and midsize enterprises with development and deployment of their networking architecture. Ms. Colville earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics and computer science from Pace University. Source: Gartner Exclusive Interview, Ronni Colville on Configuration Management, 14 March 2005. The Relicore Analyst Series Webletter is published by Relicore. Editorial supplied by Relicore is independent of Gartner analysis. All Gartner research is © 2005 by Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All rights reserved. All Gartner materials are used with Gartner's permission and in no way does the use or publication of Gartner research indicate Gartner's endorsement of Relicore's products and/or strategies. Reproduction of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The reader assumes sole responsibility for the selection of these materials to achieve its intended results. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

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