CMDB, the “Bill of Material” of the IT factory

The full version of this article was co-developed with CA communications

For years manufacturing has relied upon a central document called a Bill of Material, which describes, in minute detail, each component of the product. It serves as the foundation for design, procurement, manufacturing and distribution, and therefore as the foundation for companywide planning, costing and communication. The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is developing into a similarly foundational repository for IT, describing the configuration items (CIs) comprising each IT service as well as their interrelationships. The CMDB helps IT organizations develop new services more easily, provide current services more efficiently and promptly correct any errors that may occur.

CMDB as the foundation
Service management is a discipline based on the ITIL philosophy. Using a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) service management can provide an integrated view of IT services and facilitate the required cost control. This is crucial as in today’s information based society IT cost becomes an ever more significant part of the total cost. And stringent rationalization and automation as part of industrialized service provisioning can reduce IT costs by at least 10% to 15% annually, contributing significantly to a company’s competitiveness.

Fixing problems faster
The CMDB makes it also easier to find, correct and even prevent errors, because staff can immediately see which IT services will be affected when an IT resource goes down. Moreover, the CMDB reveals which business processes are impacted by an interruption in a given IT service. This helps staff set the right priorities during troubleshooting.

Implementing changes safely
Even today the majority of service outages occur as the undesired and unexpected result of introduced changes. This often results in a common attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. A CMDB enables evaluating the impact of changes before they are made and as a result enables a proactive continual improvement attitude.

Providing new IT services faster
Better IT service availability and performance are not the only economic benefits of a CMDB. Just as industrial designers, manufacturing engineers and sales personnel can develop new products based on existing Bill of Materials, management, departments, software engineers and IT teams can customize existing IT services to meet new demands or derive new IT services from existing ones based on CMDB information.

Providing existing IT services easier
The CMDB also simplifies the process of establishing and provisioning a front-end service catalog for users in order to show them which services are available, what they cost (depending on the requested service qualities such as response times) and how quickly they can be available. If the CMDB is the Bill of Material of the IT factory, then the service catalog is its online store.

The IT factory can now follow the laws of economics more closely. IT experts become the production planners and finance engineers of the IT factory. They become partners with management and other departments in the delivery and continuous optimization of business services.

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