Finding ROI in a Configuration Management Database (Part 2)

Written by Mark Hillyard

In part one of this series, we examined why CMDBs even exist, and how Asset Intelligence can really drive the Business Value of a Configuration Management System. Today, we’ll start tackling the specific processes that can benefit from and, in turn, provide value to, a CMDB.

The CMDB and Incident Management

The process that everyone says is what IT does. If you ask the average end-user what it is that IT provides, their answer will almost always be something that relates to Incident Management. “They fix my computer when it’s broken.” “They fix e-mail when it’s down.” “They fix…{insert service name here}.” Bottom line, Incident Management is the most visible process we perform, and it is the most thankless job I can think of that does not involve coveralls or a hard hat.

And, guess what? A good CMDB will make this job just a little less painful. Rather than scurrying around like rats on a sinking ship trying to plug the holes, we now have a wealth of data and metrics at our fingertips that can provide us with near-instant feedback on what might be wrong.

I worked for almost 10 years in a very large IT organization which supported a business that was, in fact, an IT business. We provided small businesses with domain names, web hosting, secure certificates, shopping carts, and the like. When I started there, I was personally responsible for about 150 servers. Seemed like a huge number to me on day one. By the time I left, my responsibility had expanded to include somewhere in the vicinity of 5,000 servers. And that was not even half of the entire portfolio. We had 3 system administrators who were responsible—24×7, 365—for the health and efficiency of every one of those servers. So, when I got a call from our operations center at 3 a.m. on a Sunday, how important do you think it was that I knew exactly what the system I was about to start grinding away on was supposed to do? I held what we dubbed the ‘keys to the kingdom’. I was personally, and for several years, solely responsible for the systems that encrypted and decrypted credit card data for our company’s shopping cart. If those appliances went down, we lost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per half hour of downtime. It turns out it is pretty important to know what system your dealing with when the rubber meets the road.

So, when you think about how a CMDB can help your Service Desk and Incident Management, think about how much more quickly and accurately they will be able to address and resolve every ticket that comes in. Additionally, when the CMDB is tied to metrics and monitoring, it can even make your team more proactive in solving issues. Rather than just playing whack-a-mole trying to find the real cause of an outage, tying systems to one another and ultimately to a service can be immensely powerful in reducing effort and time. And that means ultimately happier customers.

Onward to part three, “The CMDB and Problem Management” >>>

Originally published April 04 2013, updated January 01 2019