The Keys to Agility

Integration. When integrating change and configuration management, the solution should include process, activity and data.

Individually, these elements provide little savings. If all three are implemented but they don’t work with each other, then the value is very small. Therefore design a holistic solution that spans all three.

Optimize the IT organization to be both responsive and controlled by bringing together processes, activities and data, and integrate and automate change lifecycle management, and desired state management.

When all the activities are truly process-aware and if all the data can be interchanged across the activities, then combine the power of all those tools to orchestrate a single optimized solution.

By combining process, activity and data, all the existing investments in change and configuration management tools are fully leveraged. Ultimately, an organization can gain greater efficiency and reduce the number of resources required in the IT environment.

ITIL. The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) provides a good foundation and framework for the delivery and support of IT services. Integrated change and configuration management builds upon that foundation to help IT organizations achieve greater control over their systems and greater agility to support business strategy.

Three areas in which change and configuration management extends ITIL best-practice definitions are:

  • The scope of configuration management.
  • The addition of a service impact model.
  • The sources of change requests.
  • The ITIL service support book establishes a number of goals related to the scope of configuration management. These goals focus on maintaining data integrity, or keeping configuration item data accurate, and they include updating and managing the configuration items, which are the different assets in the configuration management database.

    Integrated change and configuration management extends this idea to include desired state management, where the focus is on defining known good configuration and then actively managing the configuration of IT components across the organization.

    Although ITIL includes best practices for service level management, the combined discipline of change and configuration management extends IT and business alignment through a service impact model.

    Associating IT elements with the business processes they support often can provide more guidance about the appropriate timing and potential impact of changes.

    For example, knowing that a server is necessary for accounting processes should significantly affect how IT handles that server near the end of the quarter.

    A service impact model emphasizes visibility into system dependencies and understanding the business impact of changes in the IT environment, and not just service levels.

    Change and configuration management also broadens the scope of change requests. ITIL assumes or implies that most change requests come from incidents and problems.

    In reality, only 10-to-15 percent of change requests are related to something that’s broken and needs to be fixed. Change requests come from the business, patch management, application upgrades, and technology changes.

    Benefits. Integrating change management and configuration management delivers on the promise of improved control and agility for business-critical IT environments. The opportunity for operational improvement is significant.

    Many organizations that already have some solutions in place can significantly improve service levels and operations efficiency by expanding their current function to a fully integrated change and configuration management practice.

    Enterprises can use an integrated change and configuration management strategy to solve many the most compelling problems faced by IT organizations. This can include responding to a number of issues, such Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, virus protection, server consolidation, application change management, software provisioning and patch management.

    Kurt Milne is BMC Software’s senior manager of Strategic Marketing.