Your CMDB is an essential instrument for keeping up high service availability. A healthy CMDB helps you to:

  • Prevent business service downtime
  • Identify and respond to service failure rapidly
  • Diagnose and fix service downtime faster

Each effective CMDB deployment requires a detailed Configuration Management Plan. When targets are clearly defined, and with thorough strategies, it subsequently lays a strong foundation for better business service health.

This article will walk you through some basic practices for creating and maintaining a solid CMDB. Moreover, follow the guidelines, and you will be progressing towards a healthy CMDB and improved business service wellbeing.

A Healthy CMDB in 5 Steps

Here are five critical steps to an effective CMDB deployment. These steps are not always linear. You will need to streamline your methods to meet your organization’s requirements.  Nevertheless, it would help if you addressed all of these to enhance the benefits of your CMDB.

  1. Set Your Direction
  2. Create a Team and Governance Model
  3. Layout Your Configuration Data Model
  4. Operationalize Configuration Management
  5. Build Ongoing Strategic Alignment

Take the following five steps, and you will improve your service health. You will also be able to:

  • Comprehend the managerial value of each of your business services
  • Recognize who uses your service and anticipate future utilization
  • Identify where to contribute and where to downsize
  • Keep track of your service delivery costs and figure out how to enhance them
  • Minimize code debt and risk by analyzing which technologies strengthen your services

Let us thoroughly examine each of these five steps.

Step 1: Set Your Direction  

Excellent configuration management begins with clear targets, implementable goals, and quantifiable business results.

Write well-defined goals and objectives

Organizations with effective CMDB deployments consistently articulate what they want to achieve. Furthermore, they document their methodology, illustrate their desired business results, and recognize how they will quantify effects.

When you are setting goals and objectives, ask yourself the following questions:

WhatWhat do you want to achieve?
HowWhat is your methodology, and what are your limitations and assumptions?
WhyWhat business results will your CMDB support?
MeasureHow do you know that you are on the right path?

Identify the strategic business and IT initiatives

Your CMDB needs to help your business and IT systems. Begin by distinguishing your organization’s key activities. These might include things such as:

  • Digital transformation
  • Business development through acquisition
  • Expanding your client base
  • Transitioning to membership-based item authorizing

Remember to incorporate strategic initiatives within your IT department, for example:

  • Aligning IT with the business
  • Adopting a cloud-first strategy
  • Enhancing information security
  • Automation and machine learning
  • Implementing blockchain

When describing vital business initiatives, make sure to use the same medium of language that your company already uses. Subsequently, your stakeholders will understand, and you will get rapid buy-in.

Define a collection of supportive examples

Write down a listing of use cases that provide support for these strategic proposals. Here are some examples:

Strategic InitiativeUse CaseHow Will This Tie Back To The CMDB?
Align IT with the businessAn IT segment breaks. How would we know whether this affects one of our mission-critical business services?Create an accurate, updated view of which infrastructure components hold each of your critical business services
Expand customer baseWe want to add new user interface services to our current customer website. How can we make sure, our website will be scalable?Track structure of website and applications to provide input for performance enhancement and enterprise architecture development
Enhance information securityWe must ensure PCI DSS conformity with the requirements. Which elements of our infrastructure do we need to safeguard and audit?Add CI features to specify which IT segment store or access the client credit card data
Cloud-first strategyWe are planning to migrate our inventory control system to the cloud. How do we prepare for this migration?Recognize all of the inventory control system components that need to be migrated by creating a service map.

We have just illustrated one sample use case per initiative; you will most likely have multiple use cases for each.

Step 2: Create a Team and a Governance Model

Now that you have set your direction, let us build your governance structure and configuration, management team.

Creating governance

Set up a Configuration Control Board (CCB). CCB is a steering committee that supervises your configuration management program; it makes sure that it delivers value, stays on the right track, and operates successfully.

Voting members of your CCB should be team leaders who are directly accountable for IT initiatives strategies while supporting teams to understand day-to-day operations.

Also, your CCB meetings are formally structured. Publish a meeting plan, record and track action items, and issue minutes. It increases the effectiveness of your CCB; it also provides evidence to the senior management of the value your CCB is providing.

Building your configuration management team

Following are three key ways to make your configuration management team a success:

  • Get early buy-in from executives. This creates credibility and trust that gives your team the support it requires to push change. If you can convey how your CMDB will support your executives’ strategic goals and targets, you are substantially likely to get their support. That is another reason why setting your direction – see Step 1 – is so vital.
  • Make sure that your team members are free to focus on their configuration management responsibilities, rather than being impeded in every day “keep the lights on” support.
  • Clearly define, document, and convey each team member’s role and responsibilities. This guarantees ownership, accountability, and authority.

Defining roles and responsibilities

Following is an illustration of how a CMDB solution client characterizes its configuration management team’s roles and obligations. Keep in mind that these roles include both the CCB and operational teams.

CM Executive Sponsor CCB process ownerDirects configuration plan implementation in all departments across the company.Senior executive
Configuration  Manager CCB chairHandles delivery of CM services and the documentation of the operational procedures.Senior IT manager
CM System AnalystCompletes daily CM tasks with minimum supervisionIT analyst
CM SpecialistCompletes daily CM duties with guidance from CM system analystIT admin

Step 3: Layout Your Configuration Data Model

Now, let us decide what data you are going to store in your CMDB. This is done by defining which CI classes you require.

Start and grow gradually

It’s a mistake to try to assemble a comprehensive CMDB right away. It would help if you began and then make steady enhancements as your configuration management capabilities develop. Also, decide which CI classes and attributes you require to support the data needs of the use cases you recognized in Step 1 above; if you find yourself characterizing CI classes or attributes that aren’t necessary for these use cases, your off course.

For instance, if you need to include storage in your CMDB, you may begin with CIs for physical storage arrays. The subsequent stage could be to add file systems and then logical unit numbers (LUNs). By adopting this approach, you can quickly launch necessary capabilities and then present additional CI classes over time as you grow your abilities and scope.

Leverage out-of-the-box CI classes

I suggest starting with the standard CI classes, which are included with most CMDB solutions. These are intended to support a wide range of everyday use cases, and you can use out-of-the-box discovery capabilities to populate these CIs in your CMDB (more on that later).

Most CMDB solution clients will start with the CI classes they must support with incident and change management. These CIs typically represent IT components such as:

  • Servers and virtual machines
  • Storage arrays
  • Databases
  • Applications
  • Network equipment • Load balancers
  • Security appliances

Furthermore, you can also expand out-of-the-box classes, creating new classes with additional attributes. Ome CMDB solutions also provide a wizard-style interface that assists you in the population.

Warning: You should use your CI’s correctly. According to its definition, a CI can change. So, there is no point in creating CIs for things that never change. Lastly, a CI must have a unique nomenclature that remains consistent for better business service health.

Step 4: Operationalize Configuration Management

Once you have finished your configuration model, getting your CMDB up and running is your next concern. Creating a healthy CMDB is no easy task because you need to have procedures and processes to keep it updated and correct, and you need to document these in your configuration management plan. If those things are not taken care of, then your CMDB will be useless, and everything that you have done up till now will have been for nothing.

Consider the following questions:

  • What information is required by stakeholders from each CI, e.g., operational status?
  • How can you validate this information?
  • Which CIs will you be able to keep up to date automatically?
  • Whose responsibility is it to update the CIs, which must be updated manually?
  • How can you control changes in your CMDB?
  • How can you monitor the wellbeing of your CMDB?

Discover your IT infrastructure

Although the CIs can be added to your CMDB manually, this is an exceptionally long process and can be very challenging. Instead, you should make use of discovery capabilities, which will automatically populate your CMDB. CIs will be created according to the network infrastructure, applications, and other components in your IT environment. This creation of CIs will include discovering public cloud infrastructures, such as Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure.

Your CMDB will be updated if any changes are made to your IT environment so that your information is always accurate and updated.

Your identification rules should be appropriately defined so that your CMDB does not have any duplicate CIs, which can lead to confusion.

Discover your business services

Knowing your IT infrastructure is not going to do. You must understand how the business works and how its services are delivered, such as communication, which is used for business service, and what servers they run on.

Understanding these things by documenting the topology is difficult and impossible to keep them up to date. So, it is a better idea to use a service mapping capability in the CMDB solution instead.

First, identify the most critical business service and maps. The service mapping will locate all the CIs in your CMDB and how they are related to each other and update them automatically for each service.

Populate and maintain non-discoverable Information

Usually, less than 5% of the CIs and their attributes are non-discoverable, such as who owns the CI or how critical the service is. The service mapping capabilities typically can not discover these types of attributes.

These CIs must be updated and populated manually, but this is impossible by yourself and, above all else, a mistake. What you should do is that you make the people who own the server update and validate the non-discoverable attributes of the server, and the people who own a particular business service, like a warehouse clerk, make them update and validate the attributes of that CI.

You will also want to audit this non-discoverable information in your CMDB periodically. There are two types of formal audits, functional and physical, that organizations typically perform regularly.

Manage and control change

Change Management is a big part of a good CMDB because changes that are not handled can create risks and cause the CMDB to be unreliable. For example, if a server is incorrectly marked as out of service, there is a service outage change.

To avoid this, take the following steps:

  • Use the CMDB solution’s Change Management capability to handle change requests
  • Ensure that changes are evaluated and approved before they are made
  • Only authorized users should be able to make modifications to your CMDB
  • Communicate changes to stakeholders

It is recommended that you use the CMDB solution’s Change Managements Change function to manage updates of non-discoverable attributes.

Monitor the health of your CMDB

After you have used the proper tools and procedures for your healthy CMDB, you need to maintain its health and deal with problems as they come up. You can do this by using a CMDB dashboard view. By using this, you can monitor critical CMDB health KPI’s like:

  • Completeness–scorecard of CIs with unpopulated mandatory or recommended attributes
  • Correctness–scorecard of orphaned, duplicate, and stale CIs
  • Compliance–scorecard of the results of CI audits

You can also collect scorecards so that you can make sure that your CMDB has all the specific business services, individual and grouped CIs. With this, you can understand exactly what problem the CMDB is having and request to have them solved, for example, by following up with corresponding CI owners or business service owners when CIs become stale.

Step 5: Build Ongoing Strategic Alignment

A configuration management plan is an ever-changing document. Your operation is not standing still, and nor are you. It would help if you changed your strategy to stay aligned with the business strategy and new business initiatives. A two-way communication needs to be maintained between you and the stakeholders to know what they want, and the stakeholders know how you plan on giving them what they want.

Use your Configuration Control Board to drive this Alignment. This is where you can prioritize and evolve your configuration management roadmap to maximize your business’s profit. By providing leadership and management, your CCB should create a forum for effective decision-making–turning the discipline of configuration management into a high-value asset for your business.

Also, it would help if you had a configuration management plan for every major project. A team should be assigned to manage every strategic project’s resource to understand how it impacts the configuration management. For example, think about the first project in your business that uses containers. The last thing you want is a request for new CI classes two days before go-live.

Allow Me to Recap

Your company depends on you to provide high-quality business services. To accomplish this, you need a healthy CMDB backed by good configuration management processes. With a healthy CMDB, you will be able to:

• Prevent business service outages

• To recognize and react to the service outages more quickly

• Diagnose and repair service outages more quickly

Attaining and maintaining a healthy CMDB isn’t magical. Follow the five steps in this article, and you are going to lay the groundwork for a successful CMDB deployment.

As well as you will enjoy the payoff. A considerably better business service health.

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