Guest Post By Effectual CEO, Erik Engstrom
At Effectual, building the capability for Configuration Management Systems (with our Packaged Integration Enhancement (PIE) framework) is our business. But when I speak with folks in the industry about what an HPE UCMDB-based CMS actually is, what it means, I’m often met with confusion. This holds true whether they work for potential customers, actual customers, or HPE (and sometimes even in discussions within Effectual’s team). I often hear statements like, “We can’t discover that kind of information,” or “we don’t manage that tool” While those statements are factually accurate, they are also unrelated to what a CMS can accomplish.
A CMS is a capability that drives an outcome. The capability is to collect and organize information from disparate sources, without impacting the end users or disrupting their use of their individual tool or solution. The outcome is that you’re able to push and pull these different pieces of information together to build a much better picture of your infrastructure and financial operations. It is not a single view, but a structured way of layering all your sources of information in one place by relating them to one another with rules and automation.
This is true of any data source that can be found, even legacy tools, that are not in use but still available, can offer valuable input to a CMS. You’ve already invested time and money into gathering this information, the CMS capability provides the features to bring as many of these sources of valuable data together into one source. The CMS does not replace other tools or functions, it simply provides the best set of information from across your enterprise.
This confusion remains in part because so few have actually succeeded in building a CMS – anywhere. But we are also starting to understand that some people have no clear method of grasping what it might actually mean for their organization. We clearly need to do more to educate and inspire HPE customers to pursue a CMS of their own.
Processes like ITIL and enterprise software tools make this easier. Imagine your disparate data sources as fruits and vegetables; ITIL helps us differentiate the various fruits and vegetables and how they relate to one another, while the tools provide structure to hold and organize these fruits and vegetables by their relationships. Now imagine your IT enterprise as the fruits and vegetables section of your local market. Do a quick evaluation of how you might stack up; this is your current capability.
In the fruit bin where you expect to find ripe and ready to eat fruit, you might find the bin empty but for a few scraps and rotten items. Right next to this bin, you find a pile of different vegetables and fruits, some ripe, some rotten, no order. In another you can clearly see the bin is well maintained, full of bananas ready to be eaten. But that bin is labeled “Apple”.
Scanning any IT enterprise, and evaluating how each tool is used and matured, you’ll see a huge amount of potentially delicious food items. They’re just all over the place, in various states of edibility or decay. After searching the entire section looking for just the right piece of fruit, you find it aisles over next to cereals. The next time you go looking for it, it may be in the liquor section. Having a CMS integrated to all these tools and data sources means that the actual value of each tool can be merged together, allowing the CMS to form consensus from all these sources.
Isn’t this what you would expect to find when you walk into a fresh fruits and vegetable section of the market? Nothing but well organized, edible, fresh, and easy to select items? When you ask for data or input from a tool or team, don’t you expect to receive clear, relevant, timely information on precisely what you need to know? Yet given the variety of priorities we have as employees, and the hype cycle behind a lot of tool purchases, those expectations are usually unfair. The reality rarely lines up with the expectation. A CMS deployment of the HPE UCMDB technology keeps your fruit and vegetable section organized, ready to access with the best fruit possible while it keeps rotten fruit or the wrong fruit from being used.
As enterprises with complex problems, we tend to buy an awful lot of tools and to organize around these problems and use cases. Especially when they’re problems we have already experienced, and know how to address. This is the metaphorical equivalent of having six or seven bins of apples, all of different types.
You can seemingly take care of the apples well enough, but what about all the other fruits and vegetables? What if your customer asks for a fruit salad? Do you give them a bowl of chopped apples and hope that suffices? Do you send them off to see the butcher to add a few mangoes to the offering? Or worse, do you respond that you’ll have more fruits than apples in the future, maybe next year or the year after?
What if you actually had everything the customer was asking for, but were unaware of where it was and couldn’t provide it in a clear, consumable manner?
What happens when tools and their uses end up being operated by different teams with disparate use cases (such as financial operations vs. database operations, or network operations)? You send your customer all over the place trying to assemble a complete picture. This rocks your organization’s boat, making the customer’s mission that much more challenging. The whole experience becomes less likely to have a positive, valuable outcome.
What if you could create a system that pulled data from all these tools, which mapped and normalized them into a usable repository, with very little overhead from the various teams and tools themselves? What if that system could organize the data, even if that data had multiple meanings and uses in different tools, into one consistent meaning? What if all of your tools and teams could provide in real time all of their fruits and vegetables in one location, organized, fresh, and ready for a customer to browse? That’s the capability a CMS brings to your enterprise.
The CMS leverages all of your available sources of data to provide you with the otherwise unattainable outcome of real visibility and related information in the moment you need it, with the history available to provide context around change. Manual procedures like an audit could provide such a view, but at great cost and effort, and only for a fleeting moment. With a CMS you can see across systems and efforts, even focus on specific points in time. You can join service and assets to configuration and infrastructure, much more cheaply and consistently. It’s much easier than you might think.
Your IT organization has various teams, tools and functions. Across all of these functions you desire to understand certain elements of their operating results. You want to know who, what, when and where, how much, and for how long. You want to be able to evaluate benefit to the business, to trace costs and improve the outcome where it can be improved. You want to save here, spend the right money over there, staff appropriately and with the right skills. You want to gain insight, be creative, and lead well by being prepared, not just by reacting. These insights and abilities are the most desirable outcomes of a CMS.
This type of CMS is now a reality using Effectual’s approach, our PIE solutions and HPE Software’s UCMDB 10 technology.
Erik encourages any conversation about HPE UCMDB or Configuration Management Systems. Please click below with any questions or comments: