Lloyd and I were in a meeting with a prospect earlier this week where the topic of CMDBs came up. It really is the case that people working in large enterprises are almost scared of uttering the term Configuration Management Database, CMDB really is a 4 letter word (or acronym) in many circles. One of our long time customers put it well when he said that they call the CMDB the Scottish database, just as superstition and thoughts of impending doom prevent actors from saying the name of the play Macbeth and they instead call it the Scottish play, for this customer (with a good sense of humour) CMDB equals the Scottish database.
Happily for us, our alternative approach to a CMDB called Service Configuration Management (SCM) implements a flexible top down, service-at-a-time deployment methodology in contrast to the “boil the ocean” approach to configuration management that often requires the entire IT estate to be defined in a monolithic CMDB before moving on to the next steps in the service management value chain such as Service Level Agreement.
SCM offers a pragmatic approach to delivering on the original promise of the CMDB; the single view of all the configuration items and how they support business services and the ability to visualise dependencies and other relationships. We’ve seen some validation of our approach in ITIL v3 as SCM is more akin to a Configuration Management System (CMS) with import and federation capabilities, however as industry analyst Dennis Drogseth at Enterprise Management Associates said in his article for CIO Update, CMDB More Important than Ever in Lean Times, “the core requirements to define “trusted sources” and the need to commit to a consistent schema for representing CIs and CI attributes won’t go away.”