CMDB and CMS: Powerhouses Of Service Management

Written By:
Content Copyright © 2008 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Running the collaborative technology for the Interactive Stream © David NorfolkWell, “The
CMDB and CMS – the
Powerhouse Of Service Management”
has finished and was, we think,
reasonably successful—certainly, the presentations and speakers were
first-rate. What was particularly exciting was the appearance on stage of David
Clarke and Keith Aldis (chief executives of the BCS
& itSMF, respectively), giving the welcome speech and talking of the need
for these two groups to co-operate more closely in the interests of IT industry
professionalism generally. After all, the new ITIL v3 focus is on “business
outcomes”—and these depend on the traditional BCS
“IT Group” membership and the Operations “service delivery” people in the itSMF
working together in pursuit of the delivery of automated services to the
business. Although there’s plenty of overlap between the two organisations
already and it is easy to meet people that belong to both.

This is a sign of the
times and the increasing need for professionalism in the IT industry. The BCS
is apparently working on widening the scope of its traditional CITP (Chartered
Information Technology Professional) qualification [I have one myself and am
extremely proud of it—it is certainly not simply a “paper qualification”] so
that, for example, the itSMF could issue them; as well as organisations
overseas. The CITP letters mean something since the claims supporting them are
checked by, at minimum, an interview and any qualifications/experiences claimed
are verified—and one delay in expanding its scope is that this needs Privy
Council approval.

The time is past for IT
professionals to be entirely self-certified—IT is too important to business operations
these days.

The conference content
was pretty innovative too, with an “interactive stream” in which collaborative
technology was used to capture attendee experiences of the implementation of
Configuration Management—of the issues real people had met and of ways found to
overcome them. After all, people often say that the most valuable part of most
conferences is the chance to discuss issues with like-minded people; this BCS/itSMF
conference aimed to capture this knowledge for everyone. The results will be
tidied up and posted on the CMSG website; and it
is hoped to transform them into a practical guide to implementing Configuration
Management, with value add from the likes of Shirley Lacy (co-author of the ITIL
V3 Service Transition book).

Participants generally
recommended an incremental approach to implementing a configuration management
system: “eating the elephant in chunks”; “one approach that works is [first] implementing CMS for
one entire end-to-end service, as this delivers maximum buy-in”. They wanted to
know what the vendors were doing to assist with incremental delivery of the CMS,
starting with reuse of what an organisation already had.

One issue centred on
what Kevin Parker of Serena calls “the IT industry’s “dirty little secret”:
vendor lock in. As he said, “The only one who benefits from a single vendor
standard is the single vendor” and, although the one-stop-shop may seem
attractive to an organisation buying “application lifecycle management” tools
from scratch, in practice everyone has some tools already and needs to
integrate “best of breed” tools. He suggests that your short list should only
include products that come with an open Web Services interface and which let
you just pay for the functionality you actually use (he also suggested that the
Eclipse ALF
framework could be part of the solution; although we don’t see this initiative
as capturing the mind-share it perhaps deserves).

Emmanuel Marchal,
Director, Partner Programs at Tideway, a comparatively recent entrant in this field (Tideway was founded in 2002), also
welcomed open standards, and thought that single vendor standards stifled
innovation. However, Mark Best, a consultant using IBM/Telelogic tools,
said that if the vendor supplied open interfaces into its framework, a largely
single-vendor solution could still accommodate “best of breed” [although Dominic Tavassoli (VP Product
Marketing at IBM/Telelogic) tells us that this isn’t quite
the “official” view at IBM: “…paramount is the customer—the solution must provide
answers to his challenges of integration, automation and consistency across
silos… the market trend is that successful offerings tend to have a very tight
integration between the core disciplines (change management, configuration
management, requirements management etc.) and provide open services to bring in
the other stakeholder into the process”, he says]. We suspect that the
devil is in the detail here (in a slightly different sphere, Microsoft’s Team
Foundation Server, for example, has excellent open interfaces to other tools
but does rather assume the Windows platform).

One vendor insight,
from Kevin Parker again, was to ask your sales rep about “Vendor Specific
Objective Evidence” (VSOE)—this is apparently what drives their
bonuses/commissions etc. If you try to work out some way to optimise VSOE in
respect to what you really need—then you’ll have the salesperson on your side
when s/he talks to your acquisitions people…

So, were there any
issues with this conference? Well, I guess attendance was less than we’d
expected—perhaps conference attendances are the first things to get cut in a
recession (perhaps we’re not technically in one yet, but I’m old enough to
remember similar “bear markets” in the past, and this one feels familiar). Which
is a pity, as knowledge, of the independent sort (from outside of your own
silo) is what you need to remain competitive in a recession. When times get
hard, only the best, most innovative, most agile companies survive—and
they grow on managing acquired knowledge.

However, times and
cultures change—should the CMSG (Configuration Management Specialist Group of
the BCS), which puts on this conference, be thinking of holding more widely
accessible Configuration Management conferences in Cyberspace (on the Second
Life model) in future?

[David Norfolk is on
the committee of the BCS CMSG.]