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Building a Configuration Management Tool

Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:30 am
by fandango

I must be nuts, but I volunteered to build an interim CM tool for my employer, a major Financial Services company in the UK.

We have a one-dimesional asset registry but no relationships expressed.

A couple of years ago I built them an Access database that provided time-sensitive business impact identication. The end-user selects a service from a list, a date and/or time and (based on some rules agreed with the business areas) the impact of outages and/or slow responses (tricky area I know) is expressed as Critical/High/Medium/Low for each business area affected. This was just for Service Level Reporting, but now used by the Service Desk, Major Inc Management & Change Management.

My idea is to expand this tool downwards to include physical CIs like servers (or clusters of servers), database instances, network routers and switches. These will be linked to the services they provide via expressed relationships such as:

ServerClusterA | ProvidesLiveServiceTo | ServiceCorporateBanking
ServerClusterA | ProvidesMirroredResilienceFor | ServiceCorporateBankingPayments

There has been a will to refresh tooling to allow this kind of thing for a while but one spanner after another have stalled all attempts. Tooling refresh is 2 years away at best.

So this is why I (with my relational theory/SQL/MS Access & IT Operations knowledge) have suggested building an interm tool that is portable into industry products.

Now I can get to my question. I need to understand what relationships are used in the industry and how CI data is stored in tables. I could design my own model fairly easily but I want to make sure it matches as closley as possible to how things are done by industry CMDB/CMS suppliers - to ensure maximum portability.

I can't find any historic posts relating to this, presumably because few are mad enough to try it. But any guidance or help would be greatly appreciated. I know its nuts, but I think if I keep the scope limited to CIs that are critical to providing service, then I can build a really useful interim tool for IT Operations.

Looking forward to your responses,



Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:45 am
by Diarmid

I bet they are all different. you could look at some open source stuff. I'm sure it exists, but I have no direct knowledge myself.

Having said that, if you genuinely want to build something both good and compatible, perhaps you should look at your development time and consider whether it would be quicker to go through procurement for something already out there. You need to develop the functional specification either way and so you can keep your options open for a bit.

The hidden cost to your organization is the need for support for what you develop and the serious bottleneck (and risk) of you being the only person who can do it. The hidden cost to you is you will get stuck with it, possibly limiting your opportunities in other areas, or even get roped in to even more "interim" developments. Unless, of course, that is your goal.

Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:53 am
by SwissTony
Only got a min....but worth looking into Tideway Foundation....Google it. :)

Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:07 am
by thechosenone69

my grandfather had a very wise saying: "why get a cow when you can buy milk from the shelves". Is it worth the time and effort while you can buy it from the market. think about it :)

Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:15 am
by Diarmid

that was as easy as 1-2-3 a point that will be lost forever the next time you post.

I'll come off the fence and wholly agree with you.

Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:24 am
by fandango
Thanks for the replies,

My bosses won't look at buying milk for at least another 2 years until the dust settles after a merger. I am a contractor who's come to the end of his project and I can milk cows! A major vendor has offerred free use of their discovery tool, it looks likely that I will get sign-off to deploy this, so this will provide some of the data I require to build my tool. It's just a sliver of what Configuration Management is about, but it's the bit we need now and the only budgetary impact is to pay for me which can be assimilated into normal expenditure much more easily than the procurement of a tool. It's a sticking plaster, but sometimes a sticking plaster is better than nothing, much much better than nothing.

Yes those risks are real but they can be mitigated, I can upskill their BAU staff to support what I build, for example. Sometimes the real world comes and inflicts it's reality on you and you need to suspend some of your ideals.

Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 8:38 am
by Diarmid
Best of luck. Just stay eyes wide open as you go.

Posted: Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:15 am

If you want a MS Access cmdb like db, I have 2 which I have used. I will remove all the data but u are welcome to it

find me on linkedin and email me

Same boat as Fandango

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:13 pm
by KJolly
Hi John...I'm in the same boat as Fandango and am tasked to setup an interim CMDB to track courseware changes, until we make a decision on a long-term solution for config. mgmt. I found on you LinkedIn but am not able to send you an invite, since we don't know each other. Would you be willing to share your dbase(s) with me as well?

UKVIKING wrote:fandango

If you want a MS Access cmdb like db, I have 2 which I have used. I will remove all the data but u are welcome to it

find me on linkedin and email me

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:37 pm
by thechosenone69
We should give UK a lesson in charging. They shouldn't have put that charging as optional in the ITIL books. John stop giving away free ITIL goodies.. Charging is Mandatory its Mandatory :lol:

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:12 am
I have not send anything yet... vaporware anyone

I have been busy on the weekends trying to keep from freezing in this wonderful UK climate

AGW my fat arse.... and I do have one you know

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:22 am
by Diarmid
Well it's not California, but I bet it beats North Dakota at least some of the time.

Your real problem, John, is you are getting the British weather but not the best of the British landscape because you are too far South. Head for Loch Lomond or Skye and you will forget trivia like a little snow and ice.

How interesting

Posted: Tue Aug 10, 2010 10:04 pm
by Al_Rel-EZ_Al
Wow... how interesting!

I am a Software Developer myself and I know this is a thread that has been going on for quite some time (2 years now)... but I have spent the last year putting together a Database Change Management tool myself (Release-eZ). Not as comprehensive as all the stuff Fandango was speaking of, but I am contracting for a large financial organisation in Sydney with $$$$Bill under management and we do Database Changes EVERY DAY via SQL.

It pretty much performs all the Pre & Post checks and automates SQL (Database) changes into any environment given (as long as it is JDBC compatible, so Oracle, Access, MySQL, MsSQL etc) and even performs them at a scheduled time (so it can happen while you sleep and during off peak times).

It has a promotion feature and also segregation of duties.

I have released a v1.1 version and I am looking for more clients to gather some feedback for my Early Adopters Program.

I am ready and available for Trial and am willing offer anyone a free taste of the system if they're willing to write reviews for me.

Sorry if this seems a bit of a plug, but I am gathering from this forum that some people are willing to buy milk off the shelves! So... I thought I might as well help point to it. =)


CI relationships

Posted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:49 am
by Wisey
I'm a Configuration Manager in government in Canada. The CI relationships are depended on the definitions in CMDB blueprint, data model and if you have a mature Change Management to manage the relationship between changes to CI, Release Management to manage the relationship between releases to CI, Incident Management to manage the relationship between incident to CI. It worth to invest at least 6 months to find out what relationship and depth of the relationships will benefit the further Configuration Management reports, Change/Release Management assessment reports, Service Level / Availability / Capacity reports through the association to CI. Overall, CIs are the definitive logical representation of the IT service or component of the IT services.

Also, you will need to think about the contact associations in order to define the CI ownership, support tiers in order to define the CI owner roles/ responsibilities.

Without efficient and effective management on the CI relationships, CMDB won't be able to show the whole picture of the IT services.

I always like to use "CI is the Identification Card of a service or IT component" . Without this card and the associations to its dependencies, change/release/incident histories, no one can tell the whole story/history and end to end service performance.

Senior Management support and understanding of the CMDB benefit is the most critical. For lots of reason, Configuration Management's maturity is always comes the last.