Skip to main content

How to Move Beyond the CMDB in ITIL Version 3

eWeek published a pretty informative article today: How to Move Beyond the CMDB in ITIL Version 3.

"ITIL Version 3 introduces a Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) whose goal is to provide meaningful information, knowledge and wisdom to appropriate IT or business users for quality decision-making."

In the article, Knowledge Center contributor Linh C. Ho explains how the Service Knowledge Management System is achieved and how it relates to the CMDB. The article covers....

  • How to Move Beyond the CMDB in ITIL Version 3
  • How the SKMS Works
  • Why the SKMS is Significant


I liked this article, but the road to a useful SKMS may be just as long (or longer) than the journey toward a CMDB.

Having a system "to provide meaningful information, knowledge and wisdom" is great -- but let's keep our feet on the ground. Moving 'beyond the CMDB' may not mean directly moving to an SKMS, (particularly if you've never really succeeded in getting a useful CMDB implemented in the first place!).

I believe in the concept if ITIL's SKMS. But I also like V3's clarification of a Configuration Management System (CMS) federating multiple CMDB sources, and I think for many this may be a more appropriate next step towards an SKMS for several reasons.

Most CMDBs I've seen are heavily centered around workflow -- Incident, Change, Config, etc. This data tends to be relatively static, and is focused on the impact of changes to the infrastructure. This is an important step in the journey and one that most are familiar with.

But with the emergence of n-tiered and virtual infrastructures, there is a critical need for real-time data about the service infrastructure. I used to call this the CDB (v2), Gartner has called it a 'PMDB' (see The Savage Journey continues...PMDBs), or I suppose now with v3 it's just another CMDB. Regardless, it reflects the need for real-time information focused on service impacts.

This real-time CMDB enables other critical ITIL processes, including Event, Availability and Capacity Management among others.

More importantly, providing the right intelligence (i.e., event correlation) can turn event data into meaningful information -- a pre-requisite for a useful SKMS.

The ability to monitor what is happening at every layer of every component in an IT service -- network, system and application -- learn the norms of all collected measurements and automatically identify which layer of which component is the source of an anomaly can have far reaching benefits.

Consider the following customer feedback:

“When the team saw the multiple technologies making up the application (service) in context they were able to compare the performance with one another, resulting in helping other teams resolve an unusual problem….when other support teams heard about this capability, they wanted access to the monitor as well.”

“The monitor automatically calculated baselines and internal thresholds that established “normal”
utilization and behavior, giving the capacity management team almost immediate visibility into the impact of customer demand on the IT ecosystem…other teams quickly saw the kinds of information the team was getting and requested access for their own work.”

“An unexpected beneļ¬t of service monitoring was use as a training tool for new IT employees; the
infrastructure models provided a high-level business service view that enabled new support personnel to quickly grasp the composition of the business services they were supporting.”

This kind of real time information can provide excellent information on which to build the SKMS. It can also provide tribal IT communities with an opportunity to engage in a more meaningful dialog, since they all have an intelligent, service-oriented perspective of what's happening in real time.

“When people lack connection to others, they are unable to test the veracity of their own views, whether in the give or take of casual conversation or in more formal deliberation. Without such an opportunity, people are more likely to be swayed by their worse impulses….”

- Robert Putnam (2000) Bowling Alone: The collapse and revival of American community, New York: Simon and Schuster: 288-290

So by all means move towards ITILs SKMS concept, but understand your CMDB journey may not yet be complete.

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between Process Owner, Process Manager and Process Practitioner?

I was recently asked to clarify the roles of the Process Owner, Process Manager and Process Practitioner and wanted to share this with you. Roles and Responsibilities: Process Owner – this individual is “Accountable” for the process. They are the goto person and represent this process across the entire organization. They will ensure that the process is clearly defined, designed and documented. They will ensure that the process has a set of Policies for governance. Example: The process owner for Incident management will ensure that all of the activities to Identify, Record, Categorize, Investigate, … all the way to closing the incident are defined and documented with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, handoffs, and deliverables.  An example of a policy in could be… “All Incidents must be logged”. Policies are rules that govern the process. Process Owner ensures that all Process activities, (what to do), Procedures (details on how to perform the activity) and th

Four Service Characteristics

Recently I came across several articles by researchers and experts that laid out definitions and characteristics of services. ITIL provides us with a definition that can help drive the creation of value-laden services: A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks. An area that ITIL is not so clear is in terms of service characteristics. Several researchers and experts put forth that services have four basic characteristics (IHIP): ·          Intangibility—Services are the results of actions not things. They have no physical presence and represent a logical set of elements. One way to think of service is “work done for others.” ·          Heterogeneity—Also known as “variability”; services are unique items because of the mechanisms used to deliver services-that is people. Because the people element adds variability, the service is variable. This holds true especially for the v

How Does ITIL Help in the Management of the SDLC?

I was recently asked how ITIL helps in the management of the SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle).  Simply put... SDLC is a Lifecycle approach to produce the software or the "product".  ITIL is a Lifecycle approach that focuses on the "service". I’ll start by reviewing both SDLC and ITIL Lifecycles and then summarize: SDLC  -  The intent of an SDLC process is to help produce a product that is cost-efficient, effective and of high quality. Once an application is created, the SDLC maps the proper deployment of the software into the live environment. The SDLC methodology usually contains the following stages: Analysis (requirements and design), construction, testing, release and maintenance.  The focus here is on the Software.  Most organizations will use an Agile or Waterfall approach to implement the software through the Software Development Lifecycle. ITIL  -  is a best practice for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the