By Dick Stark
I attended a CMDB session at BMC’s Public Sector Forum two weeks ago hosted by Mark Settle, BMC CIO, and Michael Keil, Assistant Vice President, IT Service Management, NY Health and Hospital Corporation (NYHHC), the largest municipal hospital in the country. There, RightStar has been on-site assisting with a Remedy upgrade. NYHHC has made a major investment in nearly every BMC solution area and is a model success story for how IT should run from a Business Service Management perspective. Michael’s topic was the CMDB.
Although the concept of a CMDB has been around for years, the adoption rate for asset management projects is not as high as you might expect. Forrester confirmed in a recent IT survey, that only 15% of the respondents were halfway through an asset management rollout. Fortunately, NYHHC is much further along and shared their experiences.
First, define how you will be using a CMDB. Michael Keil began, “Don’t try to boil the ocean. Keep the scope small.” He explained that it was essential to examine your processes. Figure out what works and doesn’t work and make sure that you can identify your consumers of your CMDB. (Presumably service desk analysts, change managers, data centers, and various hospital units that track assets, either IT or non-IT.)
Second, if you have an ITAM solution in place, that is a good start. Most organizations have something: Excel spreadsheets, a database from which to import data. Discovery tools are also essential, but require manual reconciliation. Use your ITAM solution to add your non-discoverable items such as medical equipment. Then, federate data from other sources such as Microsoft SCCM for desktops and servers and BMC ProactiveNet and ADDM for Network Topology. Reconcile often either manually or take inventory using barcode scanners.
Third, execute. Consider adding states to configuration items such as test, development, production, current, future, and retiring. NYHHC’s rule of thumb is only put items in a CMDB if they: solve a problem, have a metric, have an owner or have a metric on the owner. When moving from an old tool to a new tool, make sure to keep the concurrent time to a minimum.
Finally, continually improve. There will be bumps in the road. Check processes to see if they are ready. For example, will the service desk be able to locate configuration information in a ticket and how will they use that information? Make sure this is part of your CMDB plan.
Don’t forget that BMC ITSM Suite is a good place to start. RightStar’s configuration management value proposition for this account and most of our other customers is significant. By comparing the IT assets required with what is actually on-hand, most organizations can identify surplus software and hardware and realize significant cost savings. In addition, linking IT assets to incidents and problems allows troublesome assets to be identified before future incidents are reported. This facilitates problem management and reduces call duration and volume.