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  • Writer's pictureOliver Nowak

How to move from Traditional CMDB to a Digital Service Blueprint

If you were to ask your CEO what their top 5 priorities are, do you think they would name data as one of them?

In my experience, some do but the majority don’t.

Now let me ask you a different question, of the 5 priorities your CEO names, how many are influenced directly or indirectly by data?

Let’s be honest, that’s quite simple - all of them.

Conclusion: Data is central to the success of your business, whether you know it yet or not.

Today we live in an information driven world, and all that information is, is structured data. It’s no accident that some of the most successful businesses of our time, Google & Amazon to name a few, are information driven. And they are data experts first and foremost.

For IT, the management of data is of course nothing new. Traditional Configuration Management Databases (CMDB) have always to a lesser or greater extent been a part of ITIL. But, unfortunately, over time the word CMDB has become tainted. IT view it as a big source of their problems, reminding them of past failures and difficulties they had implementing it.

But the dust is settling and attitudes are being forced to change. We’re in a digital revolution, no one can doubt that, and the currency of that revolution is data. Whether we like it or not, central to the function of any business, of any size, in any sector, is data. So how do we evolve?

It’s no accident that the topic of data is slowly permeating into boardroom agendas. The hidden insights tucked away in the vast plethora of data every organisation generates can be fundamental to helping you optimise performance by reducing cost, raising more revenue or transforming the customer experience, just to name a few.

The evolution is more a reinvention.

When it’s used properly, the CMDB is designed to be the bridge that connects your technology architecture to the business itself. It goes above and beyond the traditional IT Service Management incident, problem and change, or the tracking of assets within IT Asset Management. The business is now learning to use IT to solve business problems like understanding Business Resilience, the wider implications of Business Changes, and a rationalised view of how your internal & external customers are interacting and consuming the services in your portfolio.

All that remains is selecting the right platform to handle this.

If data is the blood running through the ServiceNow platform, then the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is its beating heart. It keeps a complete log of all configuration item information and the relationships between them, be that your hardware assets, your software assets, your applications, services and so on. In other words, it starts in IT but it is designed to be so much more than that, it’s designed to be your service blueprint.

So how do we convert that cumbersome traditional CMDB into a service blueprint?

To start off with, and this is non-negotiable, your ServiceNow CMDB needs to be your single source of truth. Now there are many ways of achieving this be that through agent-less auto-discovery, integrations with third party data sources or manual imports. Only with all of your data in one place, updating in real-time can you confidently begin to map out the relationships between the configuration items in your estate.

But naturally it can’t just be any data. We have standards of course. ServiceNow leverages a common set of processes and taxonomy that uses a highly prescribed set of standards for exchanging data. In other words, the CMDB needs to be able to normalise and reconcile the data coming in with what already exists in the database, otherwise it’ll rapidly turn into a junkyard.

From there, with the right foundation in place, the data model is easily extendable to drive workflows across the whole platform, whatever your use case might be.

So what does all of this mean to you and where do you go next from here?

For me, it starts with considering the below:

  • Do you have anyone specifically focused on configuration management?

  • Do you currently have any view on how your configuration items interlink with the services you provide?

  • How much automation have you been able to weave into configuration management?

  • How are you ensuring you are continuously improving the quality of your data and the relationships of your configuration items?

  • How aware is the rest of the IT team as a minimum, but also the wider business of the importance of data integrity and reliability?

And with all of this in mind, what have we at Crossfuze done to help other customers?

We have started running what we call “CMDB Health Assessments” for our customers to assess the current state of their CMDB and identify areas of improvement. This is through the following activities:

  • Reviewing CMDB reports and data to provide recommendations

  • Review CSDM maturity and provide recommendations

  • Reviewing data sources and provide recommendations

  • Reviewing your Discovery implementation and provide recommendations

  • Identify Governance activities to complete to support the Configuration Management process

As you can see these activities are incredibly recommendations heavy. With the CMDB acting as that underlying foundation to the platform, it is essential that we take the time together to get this absolutely right. Following this work we put a lot of emphasis on playing back our findings so you have a clear picture of where you are today and what the incremental steps you can take look like.

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