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Board the Rocketship to Modern ITSM Operations: 5 Steps to Get Your CMDB Right

Forrester Automation Framework

Editor's note: This guest post comes from Rob Kelsall, VP of Global Sales Engineering at Resolve, a sponsor at Cherwell's upcoming conference, Clear 2020 Virtual

Can you imagine trying to troubleshoot a CI if you don’t know what’s running on it? What about trying to quickly fix an issue with a business-critical application if you have no idea what the supporting stack looks like? The unfortunate reality is that many service desks face these obstacles on a daily basis if they lack an up-to-date CMDB.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the challenges presented by an incomplete, inaccurate CMDB. How do you confidently or safely complete a change request if you can’t gauge the impact of making that change? How can you efficiently determine the root cause of an issue if you don’t have visibility into how things are connected in your environment?

All of these questions illustrate why the CMDB is the cornerstone of a successful ITSM implementation. But CMDBs have traditionally been very difficult to maintain, especially as infrastructure has become more complex, dynamic, virtualized, containerized, and spread across many clouds. A CMDB implemented 10 years ago or more, was probably focused on compute infrastructure only, being ITAM focused, and it would have failed to cover network and storage domains to fully understand the supporting infrastructure of an application. Overtime, the CMDB got a bad reputation because it was never accurate, lacked full stack coverage, and manual attempts to maintain it were a failure given the rapid nature of change in today’s IT environments.

Now, thanks to recent developments in IT automation and the emergence of AIOps, IT pros can automate discovery, dependency mapping, and real-time updates to their Cherwell CMDB to ensure data is always accurate and that they have a complete inventory of everything under their management at their fingertips. Having reliable data is a game changer. In fact, it propels the CMDB to the center of your IT universe, fueling incident response, change management, and more.

CMDB Center of Universe

(Finally) Getting Your CMDB Right

As Forrester Research aptly stated in a recent report, “CMDBs have failed us, but the right approach can transform them.” Here are five steps to get your CMDB where it needs to be and key considerations to ponder at each stage of the game.

1. Document Your Goals and CMDB Vision

Ask yourself:

  • What’s your end goal?
  • What is the business impact of improvements to your CMDB?
  • What’s your long-term vision for how you plan to use your CMDB as part of your overall operational strategy?
  • How will it support your ITSM objectives and goals?
  • Who will use the data and how?

2. Determine Your Data Strategy

Ask yourself:

  • Where will the single source of truth for your CMDB data reside?
  • What data do you need to capture to support your goals?
  • What types of entities will you track in your CMDB?
  • Which details do you need to capture about each type of entity?
  • What should the data structure look like for long term success?
  • Is our data structure flexible enough to accommodate unforeseen future needs?
  • Who will own each of the data classes, and what’s the process to maintain it?

3. Automate Discovery & Infrastructure, Application Dependency, & Service Mapping

Ask yourself:

  • Does the automated solution easily integrate with my ITSM platform?
  • Can it be integrated with the rest of my tech stack?
  • What types of devices and vendors does it support?
  • Can it cover compute, network, and storage infrastructure?
  • Does it require agents?
  • Is it comprehensive?
  • How accurate is the discovery?
  • How is the data surfaced and visualized?
  • Can it support other business stakeholders who need access to the data for auditing, compliance, or day-to-day job functions?
  • Will it also help me optimize costs and IT resources?

4. Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Ask yourself:

  • What’s our process for deploying and integrating new technologies and tools that will impact the CMDB?
  • How do we validate throughout the entire lifecycle?
  • What’s our strategy to monitor accuracy over time?
  • Who are the stakeholders?

5. Ongoing Improvement and Evaluating KPIs

Ask yourself:

  • Who should be involved as we refine our strategy and evolve our CMDB over time? Should we form a CMDB committee?
  • What are our KPIs?
  • How do we measure the KPIs? And how often should we review them?
  • What’s our policy for making incremental changes? Or big ones?
  • What’s our roadmap for future enhancements? What resources will be required?

I’ll be discussing the role of the CMDB in more detail during my Spotlight Session at Cherwell CLEAR 2020, Tuesday, October 13 from 9:25 - 9:45 AM MT. The session will also explore how AIOps and automation can transform your entire incident management process by reducing alarm noise, correlating events, and automating resolution procedures without any human intervention. Join us to create your own action plan for getting started, and for a look at how combining Resolve and Cherwell can help you accelerate liftoff.

Be sure to stop by Resolve’s virtual booth to learn more and chat with one of our automation ninjas. And if you don’t want to wait for CLEAR to start, we’d love to connect now—schedule a meeting today!

Rob Kelsall runs Global Sales Engineering for Resolve. With a 20-year career in technology, Rob has tackled everything from implementing service desks for MSPs to running worldwide sales engineering teams for a variety of software companies. He brings a unique perspective on IT operations and digital
transformation drawn from his extensive experience implementing security, ITSM, and automation solutions for some of the largest enterprises in the world. Rob has an indelible focus on customer success and a passion for innovation, bleeding edge technologies, and maximizing the impact and efficiency of IT teams.

Resolve is one of our valued Cherwell Partners and a sponsor for Clear 2020 Virtual — be sure to connect with Resolve during the conference. For more information about this year's virtual experience, visit the conference website and reserve your spot. 

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