CMDB at a Crossroads

Once upon a time, my job was to create product content, education and best practices to enable businesses to effectively implement and get value out of their CMDB. In those days, CMDB was a relatively new concept to most organizations. IT organizations grasped the need to capture and document interdependencies between the devices or systems that made up a service provided to the business, but had so many sources of record that it was very difficult to get started. Many started with just trying to combine a bunch of discovered data sources into a single data store, and encountered issues with data duplication, unique identification of Configuration Items (CIs) and reconciliation. Unfortunately not every investment in CMDB technology resulted in more effective root cause or change impact analysis, the primary goal of a CMDB implementation back then.

My team decided to balk the trend of “bottom-up” CMDB deployment and focus on business and IT services from the top-down.  We prescribed practices like starting narrow and shallow when it came to the types of CIs and the attributes that would initially be populated, enabling IT organizations to get a grasp first on what key services were being provided, and then adding depth and breadth once they had instituted sufficient Change Management procedures to ensure data consistency and freshness within the CMDB.  We emphasized process and federation over data bombardment, and encouraged our customers to avoid “boiling the ocean” in early implementation phases, and we have had a lot of success with this approach.

Fast forward a few years, and we’re seeing the commoditization of such technologies as the service desk and CMDB.  More mature organizations are now focused on CMS, incorporating more than just change impact and root cause analysis information about their CIs, expanding to include Incident Management, Problem Management, Knowledge Management and Release Management.

EMA recently released its Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) RadarTM for CMDB/CMS Use Cases: From Database to Federation Q1 2012, addressing the crossroads that CMDB/CMS technologies are facing and how various vendors, CA Technologies included, are meeting the current and future needs of IT organizations. EMA took a use-case focused approach to the report, ranking vendors on functionality and cost effectiveness for Asset Management and Financial Optimization, Change Management and Change Impact Analysis, and Service Impact Management.

CA Technologies has been named a “Value Leader” across all three use cases in the EMA report. According to EMA’s Dennis Drogseth, this is due to our “uniquely strong balance between cost effectiveness, design and functionality” and “commitment to helping customers streamline CMDB/CMS implementations, and to tie those efforts back to overall service management initiatives.”

This makes me think we made the right call when it came to the top-down approach, enabling our customers to get value on their CMDB investment early in their implementations. The inclusion of CMDB within our CA Service Desk Manager offering positions us well for CMS initiatives as IT needs continue to evolve.

You can download the EMA report here.

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Crystal Miceli

Sr. Director, Product Marketing at CA Technologies
Crystal Miceli serves as Sr. Director of Product Marketing for CA Technologies, specializing in IT Service Management. Crystal has over 15 years of experience in designing and implementing IT Service Management solutions across a range of industries, including Healthcare, Retail, Hospitality and the Public Sector. At CA Technologies, as both a technician and a business leader, Crystal has focused her attention on the development of best practices for the processes and architectures to support technology deployment and adoption for CA customers worldwide. Crystal is a recognized expert and educator in Incident, Problem, Knowledge, Change, Configuration, Asset, Project and Portfolio Management.

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