ITIL: Organizations on the psychologist’s couch

Ilan Saviri, Manager of BMC Remedy products, Systems Management Division, Matrix

Even if you have never plopped down on a psychologist’s couch, you probably have a good idea about the function of the therapist. The psychologist listens to your problems and concerns, collects information about the issues that cause you the most significant discomfort, learns the real story about your relationships, and tries to organize the tangle of data in order to be able to analyze it and discover its meaning.

A good therapist can discard information that is not relevant (for example,  the description of the landscape on the way to a crucial meeting) in order to focus on the real problems that require solution. After a few meetings, the therapist knows who you are, what matters are important to you, who are your friends, and where you have been, and can predict the goals you want to achieve based on the information you have provided.

A good therapist can help you gain new insights by placing the information you provided in new contexts, so you gain a better understanding of your actions and learn how to avoid repeating erroneous behavior patterns in the future.

At the heart of the ITIL
In many ways, the therapist is the live, flesh and blood version of the Configuration Management Database (CMDB), which is at the heart of the ITIL approach and the leading technological and management solution from BMC Software that enables an effective implementation of ITIL in your organization.

Over the past 15 years the ITIL framework has been established on the strength of ongoing experience in a large number of IT organizations. It includes best practices for management of the IT infrastructure based on target definitions and objective measures that integrate all components of the organization: people, processes, and technology.

As in life, in the IT system it is context that matters most. The ability to endow data with meaning is based on the context of that data and not only on the information itself. Is an investment of $100K in a server a good one? Is 99.9% availability a good target?

Understanding of IT issues within the organization is based on understanding the contexts of its constituent factors (people, processes, and technology). To understand and analyze these complex connections, BMC uses a multidimensional business model built into the CMDB. Organizational data are fed into the model, which then enables simplifying the network of connections and endows them with business meaning.

To this end, the CMDB collects and organizes the complete and latest information about components within the organization and their interconnections. Organization of the information is accomplished by sorting it into departments and objects called “configuration items.” These items differ in their complexity, form, and size, and can include both physical and logical elements, from the component to the system level.

Clear business and system picture
Similarly to a good therapist, the CMDB assigns, characterizes, and understands the connections between objects, which enables it to provide a clear business and system picture and a structured presentation of the IT infrastructure to technological and business management. The CMDB transforms the physical and logical connections into connections that have business meaning and can be connected to business services that form the basis of the organization’s income. Based on this meaning the organization can define its priorities at every level: support, availability, required performance, backup requirements, and more. The connections confer business meaning on the data and enable examination of the IT infrastructure with a view toward objectives, alternatives, items affected by decisions, etc.

In the hands of the IT manager this data acquires significant authority when the IT manager is asked, for example, what is the meaning of a specific server, whether it serves the marketing or the finance department, and whether it is a target for a Sarbanes-Oxley compliance audit. These capabilities enable more efficient prioritizing from a business perspective: What to address first? Where to invest first? What are the bottlenecks that prevent increasing the organization’s income?

Furthermore, the ability to query at all times the status of the connections and components of the configuration makes it possible to ensure the well-being of these connections and their fitness for current business needs: Does capacity meet demand? Is availability adequate for customer needs? Is it necessary to change or improve the backup system? Are operational expenses affecting the profitability of the business service?

One may question whether CMDB is merely a cool idea or a working system and whether it is able to cope with the massive amounts of data available about the configuration items managed by the organization. The answer is that CMDB is a proven and working solution provided by BMC, and that it is at the heart of the company’s other Business Service Management (BSM) solutions that provide technological tools for ITIL-based management of the organizational computer system.

CMDB copes with huge amounts of data by unifying and integrating them. The CMDB system stores the meaningful information about connections and items of the configuration; if additional data are available about these items in the various operational systems such as ERP, Active Directory, etc., the CMDB stores pointers to these sources of information in a way that eliminates data overload and the need to duplicate data.

In sum, the proven experience of BMC Software and Matrix, which represents BMC products and specializes in the implementation of CMDB, shows that this solution is a business and strategic asset of the first order. CMDB is at the root of the ability to match the IT system to the business needs of the organization and can make the difference between management regarding IT as a cost center or a profit center.​