CMDB Systems: the Quiet Revolution
CMDB Systems: the
I remember once preparing for a number of public board
meetings by listening to Monte Python’s “The Death of Mary Queen of Scots” and simultaneously
taking a hot shower. I highly recommend
this disciplined approach to verbal conflict – in which a very indignant Mary
protests, “I’m not dead, yet!”
The same assertion should be made regarding the ill-named
Configuration Management Database (CMDB), as it quietly moves towards a
federated system of technologies more appropriate to ITIL v3’s notion of a
Configuration Management System (CMS).
In fact, I would argue that the CMDB is just now beginning to come of age and, that in many respects, it represents
a quiet revolution far more relevant to the longer term direction of service
management than cloud computing—in spite of all the hype.
This belief in the long-term transcendent value of a CMDB
because of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) primarily—the obvious and
clearly “legitimate” parent of the CMDB, which gave it a name as fitting for a
poor child growing up as “Rainbow Wonder” or
“Coyote Cal.” I have often said
that the CMDB is not about configuration management or a database, much like
the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Rather, the real driver behind the CMDB – research
accurately captured over the years from EMA research – is to find a meaningful
system of reconciliation so that existing and new IT and service provider
management investments can work together more effectively to provision,
optimize, monitor, and retire critical business services. And this brings up the CMDB’s second, less
formal (though not necessarily illegitimate) parent: the age old dream that a system might evolve
for assimilating and reconciling multiple management investments to support
superior levels of analytics, decision making and automation. At the core, this depends on discovery and
modeling technologies to capture interdependencies that are adaptable, flexible
and ideally versatile enough to answer requirements for real-time or run-time
awareness. It also effectively deconstructs
siloed management tool design to support cross-domain requirements to analyze
and optimize information. And, hence, it is truly revolutionary!
Rather than accepting stove-piped solutions with a
laundry list of product numbers of only barely (or not at all) integrated
products—the CMDB/CMS revolution proposes a far more organic set of layers in
which discovery, modeling, data sharing (normalization if DB-centric, access if
not), analytics, automation and visualization can all be optimized to support a
wide range of constituencies across IT and the business it serves. The heart of the CMDB is actually not a
database at all but a modeling system that can be used to populate a database
and also provide real-time access to relevant service interdependencies in
multiple meaningful ways.
at least this dream– has been around
for a long time. However, we are just
witnessing the success of first-phase CMDB designs with sufficient technical
versatility and adaptability to support meaningful expressions of “truth”
without requiring extravagant administrative overhead.
And this brings me to the main point of my blog.
EMA just completed an in depth look at eleven vendors
with CMDB/CMS solutions and, in the process, visited more than 20
deployments. I wanted to probe on a
diverse set of architectures to underscore what I believed to be true about the
nature of CMDB/CMS design; as a result, I did not include platform or framework
vendors in this Radar. I will do a
follow up in Q3 to key on platform-rich CMDB/CMS functionality and expect to
include a few vendors from the list below for points of comparison:
Network Infrastructure Inventory
I will give a Webinar – CMDB/CMS
Use Case Radar: Innovation through Diversity – on
the results this Wednesday.
As the CMDB/CMS is an enabler, I evaluated three primary
management and financial optimization
management and change impact analysis
problem and service impact management
(really incident and problem management in support of service impact –
as these can support all three use cases)
My expectation is that this Webinar will show – according
to its theme – “Innovation through Diversity.”
The notion that the CMDB is now entering a “mature” phase
is naïve, and in many respects refuted by the high levels of innovation
attested to here. We are admittedly looking at toddlers learning
to walk, but what a transformation they may bring to the market, and to our
whole view of service management, as they take their first few steps!!