The CMDB/CMS in the Digital Age: More Present Than You Might Think
July 09, 2018

Dennis Drogseth

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Insofar as news and media comes and goes in waves, rising and falling on areas of attention that sometimes engender self-created storms (positive and negative), the configuration management database (CMDB) is currently residing in a valley, not a crest. As tech headlines flash across my email, at least, the CMDB, and its federated equivalent, the configuration management system (CMS), are almost never mentioned. And yet when I do research, dialog with IT, or support our consulting team, the CMDB/CMS many times still remains paramount.

Why the Disconnection?

To be honest I don't have all the answers, but some of it has to do with how markets get defined — rigidly and academically — so that attention often gets directed to only a subset of what's needed, and then quickly becomes frozen in time. This did a great deal to hinder the CMDB's evolution and effectiveness, and still puts it in a far smaller box than it deserves to be in.

Another reason is that when industry attention peaked a decade ago, in many respects CMDB technology wasn't up to the task. This factor was exacerbated by a general trend to see the CMDB vision as a monolithic answer to every possible IT concern, without attention to use case, relevance, and currency. As such many IT organizations imagined that putting all their data in one place would, in and of itself, turn out to be transformative, something like buying a car without knowing how to drive or even how to fill it with gas.

And finally, all the attention given to cloud, microservices and agile has at times seemed to challenge the validity of the CMDB, in particular given the need for dynamic currency.

Why the CMDB/CMS is More Present Than You Might Think

But as I hope to make clear in a webinar on July 24, the CMDB, the CMS, and effective discovery and dependency mapping (DDM) are actually more relevant now than ever. CMDB/CMS/DDM technology has evolved considerably in the last decade, and is continuing to evolve, to become far more dynamic, and in some cases truly real-time.

And where do these technologies play?

■ Collectively these technologies can become lynch pins for more effective change, asset, performance, and capacity management.

■ They can help accelerate DevOps effectiveness, including pre-production provisioning, managing cloud compliance issues, and ensuring that operations and development really are on the same team.

■ In recent EMA research, the CMDB/CMS was shown to be a valuable asset in unifying security and operations teams for more efficient SecOps initiatives.

■ And both in EMA consulting and multiple aspects of EMA research, investments in the CMDB/CMS and DDM have become pivotal for effective cloud migration and optimization of cloud resources on an ongoing basis over time.

A Few More Proof Points

Here are just a few specifics taken in large part from EMA's consulting practice. When asked about "why invest in CMDB/CMS and DDM," top priorities included:

■ Decreases time to resolve technical problems

■ Breaks down barriers between technology silos

■ Allows automation and advanced analytics to be implemented

■ Facilitates an enterprise IT dashboard

■ Reduces long-term costs of IT services

And some specific examples of benefits taken as well from EMA's history with CMDB/CMS deployments:

■ US Financial Services company reduced MTTR by 70% by providing consistent and holistic services map with asset and inventories.

■ US MSP able to reconcile disputes regarding infrastructure spends. $9M spend over 3 years reduced by $2.5M by better understanding inventory.

■ US Healthcare organization reduced MTTR, downtime, and outages by 40% by implementing a CMDB. Savings returned 300% ROI over several years.

And from EMA's 2017 research on IT service management:

■ Those who were "extremely successful" in their ITSM-related initiatives were twice as likely to own a CMDB/CMS than "somewhat successful" or "unsuccessful."

■ They were also three times more likely to federate.

■ They were considerably more aggressive in exploring CMDB/CMS-related use cases.

■ They were seven times more likely to have plans to associate discovery and dependency mapping with the CMDB/CMS.

■ And they were significantly more likely to have deployed DDM capabilities.

So on to the Webinar

These are just a few examples of data I will be sharing in the webinar on July 24 referenced above. Beyond sharing more specifics of how CMDB/CMS can and has achieved value, I'll also provide an introduction to our deployment methodology achieved over the years through our consulting practice. Looking forward to your thoughts and comments.

Dennis Drogseth is VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)
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