iCore Ltd

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Value your CMDB, it’s your central source of truth

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Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) is one of the most important, but least understood of the key technology processes. It really should be one of the first processes that is developed and utilised but because of its complexity it is often ignored.

SACM is a combination of two important processes:

– Asset Management, which addresses the assets you use to deliver IT services, and

– Configuration Management, which tracks the configurations of, and relationships between the various components (or Configuration Items) of the technology services

The data used to support these processes is stored in the Configuration Management System (CMS), which is a model for the IT infrastructure, containing one or more physical Configuration Management Databases (CMDB) and Asset Registers. These, in turn, contain all the information needed to manage the assets through their lifecycle, and support the service operations processes.

The CMDB is frequently implemented as part of the initial phase of a technology tooling project. Unfortunately, once implemented, project teams rarely focus on continually improving it with other things taking priority.

One of the biggest challenges to implementing SACM processes and the CMDB is that, while it is easy to implement, it is difficult to maintain without continual improvement. The development and maintenance of the workflow, and the integration and automation required to ensure that the data is of a quality that supports decision making and technology processes, is an example of this.

When the quality of the data in the CMDB is questioned by the people who use and maintain it, the concept of a single source of truth becomes degraded. Rather than use the CMDB, teams start finding other ways to get the information they need and build their own sources of information.

This can become a self-perpetuating problem, where there is no control of the data that is critical to the operation of an IT department and the business it serves. Applications and reports that rely on the quality of information that SACM provides become impaired, failing to provide the promised business benefits. New projects try to find the best sources of data, using information with no governance or provenance rather than a centrally governed source of truth.

It is important that the CMBD and Asset Register are maintained and continually developed, ensuring that they are a single source of truth. A central SACM team, working closely with a tooling team, encouraged to support continual improvement of deployed functionality helps in achieving this. The central team helps to ensure that any development work carried out in the tooling to support the SACM processes is aligned with strategic direction, and that data inconsistencies don’t creep in.

If this sounds complicated and raises the question, why bother, it is worth considering some of the benefits that can be gained through properly tooled and governed SACM processes:

– Increased Reliability – Nothing is worse than an unreliable system that is constantly down and needing repairs. Accurate and well maintained SACM processes can enhance system reliability through more rapid detection and correction of improper configurations.

-Efficient Incident and Problem Management – SACM allows for greater agility, vastly improved prioritisation, and as a result, faster Incident and Problem resolution. This enables a better quality of service, decreased risk, greater levels of security, faster restoration of service, and an effective foundation for proactive Problem Management.

-Improved Change Management – SACM leads to more efficient Change Management, allowing changes to be planned and designed that don’t produce new incompatibilities and/or problems.

-Effective Disaster Recovery Plans – Without effective SACM, any Disaster Recovery Plans will be based on opinion and conjecture, which has the potential to lead to a greater level of business disruption in the event of a major incident. SACM provides the ability to understand the technical make-up of each business service, including the relationships between the elements that make up the service.

-Cost Reduction – SACM provides a visibility of the estate which could otherwise only be estimated, leading to more accurate budgeting of license and support agreements. It also saves money with the constant system maintenance, record keeping, and checks and balances to prevent repetition and mistakes.

-Improved Planning and Organisation – SACM is critical for greater management and organisation of information, providing visibility of all past system implementations, which, in turn can better address future needs and changes to keep the system up to date and running smoothly.

It is vital that a single source of truth is identified for all core IT data used to support the IT department and technology processes, which should be provided through the SACM capability. Once implemented, the CMDB and Asset Register that underpin SACM must be continually improved, especially with a view to ensuring that the quality of data is fit for purpose. This requires central governance of the SACM team, a strategic vision for how the data is to be maintained, and resourcing from the tooling team to support the business as usual development work.

iCore can assist in optimising Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) processes and your Configuration Management System (CMS), ensuring that you realise the expected benefits for your business.

iCore provides professional consultancy services and a refreshing, pragmatic approach to helping organisations modernise their Technology Strategy and Operations to adapt to new and emerging technologies, best practice frameworks, and modern working practices. We work with organisations across all major market sectors, and pride ourselves on quickly adapting to new environments, and adding value from the start, making us more effective and focused than generalist consulting firms.

If you would like to discuss how iCore can help you then contact us on +44 (0) 203 8211252 or email us at info@icore-ltd.com