Device42 CMDB — Helping You Optimize Your ITIL/ITSM Framework

In this article, we begin by considering how ITIL/ITSM is still relevant in this age of agile and cloud-computing. Then, we consider the plight of many IT organizations: often, ITIL is more of a hindrance than an asset. We encourage you to embrace agile best practices and blend them with the best of your ITIL processes and procedures. We go on to make the case that ITSM and CMDB tools are absolutely critical to the success of any modern IT department. Successful ITIL requires a solid ITSM solution, and an effective ITSM toolset must have real-time access to IT assets (or CIs) through CMDB to maximize agility. Finally, we present Device42 as your solution of choice for an automated CMDB in the cloud era. An accurate, well-maintained configuration management database (CMDB) from Device42 can help reduce the risks of the cloud transition, cloud restructuring, and the support of day-to-day operations and maintenance.

ITIL is still relevant in the era of agile and cloud-computing

With so much technological change in recent years, the question becomes ever more urgent: Can ITIL continue to add value for service delivery and management as cloud-computing play a bigger and bigger role in the IT environment? Many experienced managers and practitioners would not only answer in the affirmative, but would emphasize that the ITIL framework is more important than ever.

Because cloud computing is often a major change for information technology teams, service sourcing and delivery are quite different. Software and data transmissions often occur on-demand — much like a utility company. Consumption billing is done according to a subscription plan, often with no initialization costs. This significantly lowers the entry barrier. Moreover, many IT departments find themselves having to respond to service requests regarding cloud services that were not initiated by IT.

Cloud computing is a major evolution, in which central IT services continue to divide into smaller segments — across many different providers. The time has come in which any IT organization can rent infrastructure that was previously an expensive build-it-yourself endeavor. You can start small and scale as demand increases. IT is morphing into a collection of services that arise by means of collaborative exchanges with service providers who provide incremental access to capabilities that would otherwise be unavailable. Moreover, the end result is that IT departments are rapidly becoming service providers themselves, while in essence managing a chain of networked services.

Acquiring the ability to extract real value from these services is critical to the ongoing success of any IT department and its mission of bringing real service value to the business it supports. It is most definitely the case that IT managers can leverage ITIL to build solid service value chain. Conversely, the lack of a service orientation will unnecessarily expose the business to adversity. Continuing to operate as merely a collection of technologies and assets will hold serious risks for any IT organization that is considering a migration to cloud-computing.

Core IT management disciplines remain the same in the cloud. Some of the focus must shift from the IT organization to the cloud service providers, but ITIL remains in a strong position to help. Our experience has been that virtually all of the ITIL disciplines are useful when leveraging cloud-based services.

Here are some considerations for cloud delivery solutions:

Service Strategy

  • Typically, the cloud doesn’t change the strategic goals or objectives or the markets for a service, though it does provide new channels for reaching those goals and objectives.
  • The mechanics of cloud computing are likely to affect service pricing structures, and how IT organizations allocate their services costs with the inclusion of cloud elements.
  • Once an effective process is defined to support your cloud computing program, it is important to select ITSM tools to realize the capabilities and processes.

Service Design

  • Consider designing your cloud-intensive solutions for maximum business benefit, and avoid “bolting it on” as merely another technological innovation.
  • Cloud computing usually induces the need for revisiting supplier management processes and contract rigor — you want to ensure continuity in complying with the terms, deliverables, SLAs, and conditions of all relevant agreements.

Blaming ITIL? Become More Agile

If you’re part of an IT group, ask yourself: Is your department a strong enabler of your company or business? Some IT departments are viewed by the business as an inhibitor in an otherwise fast-moving enterprise. If you are an ITIL shop and want to avoid that perception, and you want to motivate your team to improve performance and agility, then we strongly recommend that you consider integrating agile development principles into your existing ITIL approach.

As ITIL adoption grew, it brought repeatability, processes, structure, and standards to IT — but there was no emphasis on speed or efficiency. Desperate to become more responsive to their client and internal customers, some IT groups took a good look at the agile frameworks — perhaps just over the wall where their software development buddies live. It has been proven in many teams now that significant benefit results from the adoption of some of these practices. In an increasing number of IT departments, hybrid agile-ITIL methodologies have liquified rigid processes, inspired cross-team collaboration, and boosted overall productivity. If you would consider your team to be a modern IT organization, it’s time to seriously considering agile methods as a complement to your ITIL organization.

Agile and ITIL

It’s not necessary to build software to enjoy the benefits of an agile framework. With agile, everything points to prioritization, quick response, frequent progressive delivery, and close interaction with the customer or stakeholders.

In her book, Agile Project Management, Karen White writes that “Agile project management allows for direct customer inclusion, adjustments and even redirection utilizing a type of iterative approach that deals with the level of uncertainty encountered.”

In a word, agility requires agency. To be successful, team members need to adopt stronger ownership and responsibility that correspond to the involvement in team activities.

Becoming agile in an ITIL world is really the same as it is in software development. Every team member should reshape their worldview so that s/he can always be ready for changes in the service environment and morphing customer requirements. Doesn’t this actually sound familiar? Yes, because it’s essential to be highly responsive in a service management context, and the best service comes by remaining flexible in moving toward problem resolution.

ITSM and CMDB are Critical to the Success of IT

Cloud computing continues to move along the hype cycle quite rapidly, cloud technologies are maturing, and cloud adoption is accelerating on a global scale. Most IT managers now agree that cloud computing is simultaneously a new form of IT service provision and new type of system architecture.

A major outworking of the cloud-computing movement is an intensive focus on the automation of change-management and configuration-management processes. Multi-cloud systems heap on additional requirements for systems integration. To have a solid foundation, cloud customers need to catalog:

  • all resources and services that are in use by the company,
  • service levels — goals and actuals
  • what is moving, adding, or changing — especially with respect to self-service provisioning and any scale automation

An accurate, well-maintained configuration management database (CMDB) from Device42 can help reduce the risks of the cloud transition, cloud restructuring, and the support of day-to-day operations and maintenance.

A CMDB is a database of objects that represent IT assets or resources, which are called configuration items (CIs). The CMDB can include many different types of objects, including devices, services, stakeholders, contracts, and documents. A good CMDB not only contains all relevant CI details, but also tracks and intuitively displays the relationships among all CIs.

You may be asking: if I have a home-grown CMDB implemented in an existing enterprise database, might it unnecessary for a cloud environment? Actually, a CMDB becomes even more important as IT components and services become more dispersed across the conventional IT environment and one or more cloud providers. Moreover, the inclusion of any hybrid services will increase the need for a CMDB even further.

As the enterprise grows, it becomes more challenging to keep the CMDB accurate and up-to-date. Inputs to the CMDB include automatic discovery, manual entries, and data feeds from automation tools. There are several considerations involved in maintaining an accurate CMDB in an environment that sustains frequent provisioning and de-provisioning of cloud services.

The first issue is: what are the data sources? With cloud-computing, there are more elements, more relationships, and a higher rate of change. Consequently, the CMDB needs the capability to manage a much higher transaction rate. Thinking pragmatically, this means that a CMDB built to handle virtualization and cloud computing must accommodate regular updates and maintain accuracy.

The advent of technologies like virtualization, containers, software-defined everything, and cloud computing have caused an explosion of IT assets. Moreover, these technologies enable rapid changes such as moving VM’s from host to host, re-configuring network connections, and so on. It’s virtually impossible to track all these changes (much less what software/applications are running on the machines) using manual documentation. Auto-discovery software is the only effective way to keep all this information up to date.

IT managers need a complete view of ALL their managed elements and how they interact — it doesn’t matter who owns them, where they are, whether they are virtual or physical, or how permanent they may be.

To meet the demands that we describe here, Device42 provides a robust CMDB solution. Our CMDB provides a single source of truth for your organization. With Device42, you get a crystal clear view into your IT ecosystem, and you can always be ready to identify, manage, and verify all of the CIs in your environment.

With an extensive range of auto-discovery tools for physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructures, you can populate your CMDB quickly and efficiently.

  • All discovery tools are agentless and can be easily scheduled.
  • Support for multiple protocols (SNMP, WMI, SSH, RPC, and many vendor- specific APIs)
  • Native support for virtualization platforms, public & private cloud platforms
  • Granular APIs with sample scripts for custom discovery
  • Fast, flexible and easy to deploy
  • A robust CMDB that is always audit-ready

After loading your data, it’s time to reap the benefits. Device42 offers an extensive and highly-customizable set of visualizations, reports and inquiry screens to access your CI data.

What better way to promoting transparency companywide? But even better, Device42 provides an extensive set of visualizations including:

  • Your computer rooms and racks with power and capacity heatmaps
  • Your full IP connectivity and power chain
  • Your hardware, software, and application dependencies

Easily Integrate Device42 with popular ITSM tools

In addition to a number of out-of-the box integrations, Device42 includes highly-granular yet secure set of RESTful APIs — for integration with other applications that are likely already in use within your organization.

Below are some of the connectors that we make available for these popular ITSM applications. More data available at Device42 integration page.

  • JIRA or JIRA service desk
  • Zendesk
  • Confluence
  • ServiceNow
  • BMC remedy (coming soon)
  • OTRS ITSM (coming soon)

Device42 for responsive, accurate, and timely ITSM

Successful ITIL needs a solid ITSM solution, and an effective ITSM toolset must have real-time access to IT assets through CMDB. Device42 is your solution of choice for an automated CMDB in this hyper-converged IT era.

To see for yourself, we invite you to download your free trial of Device42 today.

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