CMDB Lessons Learned – in Search of the Path to Value

A great deal has changed in just the two to three years since the term CMDB became a part of IT’s common vernacular. And then a great deal hasn’t. Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) research from June of this year shows that initiatives are further along, strategies are evolving, however most deployments still suffer from politics, communication issues, and confusion, and many are still struggling to demonstrate value—at least in terms that senior IT executives will appreciate.

The respondents in our June research were 90% from North America and the U.S. specifically, but focal interviews reached out to deployments ranging from Australia to the U.K. The goal was to capture the state of the art of CMDB deployments in 2008 in terms of objectives, budgets, metrics, functional and packaging priorities, what’s working, what’s not, and what adopters would recommend to their peers and what they would have done differently.

Here are a few highlights:

? Most CMDB deployments are less than two years underway, and 43% are less than a year underway.

? Sixty-eight percent are not yet in full-production with their first-phase deployments.

? Executive sponsors are largely VP or C-level, where as day-to-day guidance is mostly director or manager level. Based on a number of metrics and interviews, higher level executive involvement is one of the more consistent indicators of success. Something you should keep in mind.

? As of June of 2008, both IT budgets and CMDB budgets show overall growth (59% of the CMDB budgets have grown and 13% have diminished), but 23% are being redirected. Quite often this redirection is due to a change in the CIO, when the new CIO is less CMDB-aware.

? A growing number, 33%, of CMDB budgets are becoming a part of the core IT budget (versus being undefined, defined annually, or defined in terms of specific phase objectives), and this trend is more pronounced in more mature CMDB deployments. However focal interviews reveal that in many cases CMDB budgets remain bundled in with other initiatives (e.g. ITSM, change/configuration management, etc.) versus discrete in themselves.

? The importance of automation overall, and workflow-driven process automation in particular has risen to the top of functional linkages and technical priorities. There are two overarching reasons for this. The first is that workflow and process automation are primary avenues for harvesting the value of the CMDB investment, whether for incident and problem management, or for change and release management, or for service impact, or even for compliance audits, etc. The second is that automating key processes is central to the care and feeding of CMDB Systems.

? Fewer than 50% of CMDB System initiatives currently have metrics. However, most focal interviews recognized the need. “We’re not there yet,” is probably the most common response.

? Executive commitment, budgetary commitment, good metrics and good detailed requirements topped the charts for process-and-organizational success factors.

Good “in-house software development” and good discovery software topped technical requirements. CMDB systems in 2008 definitely require in-house skills. While focal interviews reveal that many executives, in particular, are becoming concerned with too much customization of CIs, some is still required in most environments. Focal interviews reveal significant in-house efforts to complement the many holes still present in CMDB technologies. EMA anticipates that the industry is several years away from a new phase in CMDB solutions which are significantly easier to deploy and integrate across brands.