How Does Software Development Fit in with ITIL's Configuration Management Database?

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Network discovery tools can discover reams of information about objects on your network, including PCs, laptops, routers, servers etc. For each item discovered, you can also get details down to which versions or patch level of operating systems and applications are installed.

The problem is, most of that information is not relevant to managing a service where you may need the answer to the question “the power to rack X in the data center has gone down: which services are affected?” If you put all that unnecessary information into a CMDB, which some organizations did, you make it more complicated and larger than it needs to be, more difficult to navigate etc.

There also needs to confidence in the data within the repository, that it reflects the real world.

This resulted in some rather large and expensive projects to define, collect and feed data into their CMDBs.  It brings to mind Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors:  “Feed me, Seymour, feed me!” The problem with the result is that the monster CMDBs consumed vast amounts of data and gave back outdated, inconsistent and partial results back (if they gave any at all) and, thus, quickly fell into disuse.

What Changed with ITIL V3?
Quite a lot! ITIL V3 focuses a lot on delivering value and business outcomes. It focuses on ensuring that all service assets (including applications) optimize the value of a service and its service performance. This clarifies and strengthens the link between best practice and the business benefits.

As David Norfolk writes in The Register in [an article on Service Design]: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/10/itil_service_design/ Sharon Taylor , ITIL's chief architect, summarizes the aims of service design rather well in the foreword to this volume: "In the past, the IT world has been viewed in two parts - the development world and the operational world. A lack of synergy between these worlds often produces a serious side effect - the business objectives are not met."

From the point of view of the CMDB, it is now defined as, “A database used to store Configuration Records throughout their Lifecycle. The Configuration Management System maintains one or more CMDBs, and each CMDB stores attributes of CIs, and relationships with other CIs.”

ITIL v3 defines the CMS as “a set of tools and databases that are used to manage an IT Service Provider's Configuration data. The CMS also includes information about incidents, problems, known errors, changes and releases.”

In a way, the new CMS covers what was intended to be the old CMDB, but it is more explicit about what that means.

Other processes are renamed/reorganized, and (as mentioned in this article):

In the ITIL world, a CI is under the control of two important processes:

  • Service asset and configuration management (SACM):  Ensures that the organization has a policy for identifying CIs and insures that an auditing process is in place to validate the correctness of the data. This is accomplished using automated discovery tools or old-fashioned manual audits.
  • Change management:  Controls changes as they occur and insures that changes to CIs are recorded in the CMDB.

About the author

Brad Appleton's picture Brad Appleton

Brad Appleton is a software CM/ALM solution architect and lean/agile development champion at a large telecommunications company. Currently he helps projects and teams adopt and apply lean/agile development and CM/ALM practices and tools. He is coauthor of the book Software Configuration Management Patterns, a columnist for the CMCrossroads and AgileConnection communities at Techwell.com,  and a former section editor for The C++ Report. You can read Brad's blog at blog.bradapp.net.

About the author

Steve Berczuk's picture Steve Berczuk

Steve Berczuk is a Principal Engineer and Scrum Master at Fitbit. The author of Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration, he is a recognized expert in software configuration management and agile software development. Steve is passionate about helping teams work effectively to produce quality software. He has an M.S. in operations research from Stanford University and an S.B. in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and is a certified, practicing ScrumMaster. Contact Steve at steve@berczuk.com or visit berczuk.com and follow his blog at blog.berczuk.com.

About the author

Robert Cowham's picture Robert Cowham

Robert Cowham has long been interested in software configuration management while retaining the attitude of a generalist with experience and skills in many aspects of software development. A regular presenter at conferences, he authored the Agile SCM column within the CM Journal together with Brad Appleton and Steve Berczuk. His day job is as Services Director for Square Mile Systems whose main focus is on skills and techniques for infrastructure configuration management and DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) - applying configuration management principles to hardware documentation and implementation as well as mapping ITIL services to the underlying layers.

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