Afternoon impressions: CMDB conquers all

After the posting flurry of the morning, my battery (laptop and biological—damned jet lag) ran out, so I caught a nap before heading back to the Moscone for the afternoon sessions and the opening of the ITxpo floor. The sessions that I attended after the IBM presentation were complementary, so I’m going to wrap my notes up in one post.

The session on ITSM and IT Operations was a good overview, discussing the IT Management Process Maturity Model (an IT-centric take on the CMM), with an emphasis on building the service portfolio and treating it as a marketing document. The session on Configuration Management focused on tools that map dependencies between assets (hardware, networking, software and software components); this sort of approach is required if you are to provide effective support for an end-to-end service in the enterprise.

Both sessions had a fairly grim assessment of the move toward service-oriented IT service management. The ITSM session stated that through 2008, 65% of organizations will be focused on non-service-focus metrics like availability of individual servers, rather than end to end availability; and that it would take about five years for application development to start mapping service dependencies as part of the development process. Both sessions agreed that at least for the next year to 18 months, configuration management was going to be a largely manual activity.

It seems, with the proliferation of tools that provide configuration management for some piece of the IT puzzle, that the opportunity is for someone to provide a general standards-based interface to span across multiple CMDBs and to create connections and integrate key ITIL processes, particularly change management. But the cost could be dear: Ray Paquet estimates that, depending on the scope of your configuration tracking, you could have as many as 100,000 assets in a moderate-sized organization, and that the number of relationships that could be tracked scales exponentially. The challenge is to provide intelligent oversight across these databases but to provide drillthrough where required so one solution isn’t holding all the data.