CMDB More Important than Ever in Lean Times

This pluralist vision is messier, but it is much closer to EMA’s idea that the CMDB phenomenon is driven by two parents: ITIL from a process perspective and the need to integrate existing management investments in a way that finally works. This last admittedly somewhat less “legitimate” parent, is nonetheless worth noting; as the need has existed for decades and answering it portends huge values in terms of IT efficiencies from both a capex and opex perspective.

There are tremendous pragmatic benefits in grasping and executing on this bigger picture (albeit through baby steps rather than as a single, life-changing experience). And most likely you’ll have time on your side. Within the CMS realm, I predict that 2009 will re-establish biodiversity in the CMDB-related ecosystem. For instance, in 2006 the industry witnessed a large number of innovators with differing approaches to CMDB capabilities. But by 2007, many of these innovators were scared away from their CMDB initiatives as the industry moved towards more monolithic definitions with associated negative analyst reviews. This resulted in a platform-centric packaging for CMDBs that played to ITIL’s service-desk roots. It was destructive to the many innovators who would have brought more creative and differentiated approaches to enabling a cohesive fabric for management integration versus laborious one-on-one adapters.

The value of this more complex ecology is more options in how and where to begin, and how and where you choose to evolve, with faster time to value. You will be able to choose CMDBs with a more human (and cost/benefit-defined) face. However, 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. And the commitment to look at your political/cultural/process realities won’t go away either. Still and all, you should feel liberated from the notion that committing to a CMDB deployment is akin to building a monster in the basement. You will be able to start more fluidly, adapt more fluidly. Call it the “Scottish Database” or anything you wish—you are at free at last to chart your own, benefits-oriented course.

Dennis Drogseth is vice president of Boulder, Colo.-based Enterprise Management Associates (, an industry research firm focused on IT management. Dennis can reached at [email protected].