Maintaining an up-to-date and reliable service catalogue was never easy. Everything had to be in there, it had to be accurate, the SLAs had to be achievable and dated stuff had to be removed in time. And most difficult of all, the pricing (if it had been included in the first place) had to reflect real costs. Now the hybrid cloud, containers and the agile way of working have made this job a lot harder. No matter how hard, though, IT needs to communicate about its services with the business and support them in their digital transformation.
As you might have guessed, we have a solution for this – that’s the whole idea behind our Devoteam blog anyway. The solution comes in small components, though, because there are quite a few things that need to be set up.
In the old days of the IT service catalogue, everything ran on hardware that was in use for up to 10, 15 years, or more. That gave you plenty of time to create and update inventories. Now you have to work with containers that sometimes only exist for 60 minutes. Or with test projects in the cloud that run for a couple of weeks, consume various types of resources and then disappear. How do you relate such assets to the other relevant elements of your infrastructure? How do you calculate the operational cost of a short-lived test project or an extremely short-lived container? Or rather, how would you have even known that the container or the project existed and should be taken into account?
CMDB is the foundation for success
Even the best and brightest IT asset manager can’t keep up with all this. IT infrastructure continues to grow and is becoming ever more complex, especially with the proliferation of hardware, software, appliances, virtual machines, cloud services, mobile devices and container platforms. This makes visibility into infrastructure a moving target. And as is often the case, automation is the solution. Enter automated Configuration Management Database (CMDB) as a first step.
Discovery becomes a continuous process
Automated CMDB starts with automated discovery. Your CMDB software – such as ServiceNow or BMC Helix – starts by inspecting everything for one or two weeks to create a full and accurate inventory of your complete infrastructure. When that’s ready, the software learns how all your IT assets interact with each other and then maps the dependencies for you. The configuration data are constantly updated to reflect what’s going on at any time. After a while, it’s a bit like a video you can rewind to find out what caused a failure. Fast-forwarding into the future isn’t possible, but the forecasting is pretty accurate.
Link your CMBD with finance
Your IT asset manager can now start mapping everything to your business services and you find out who’s using what. This gives you a reliable data set that is fully up-to-date and includes new technology such as containers. Then it’s time to combine your CMDB data with financial information to have a clear view of how your IT assets are linked to each business service, with full cost transparency for each business owner. So IT remains a service provider but it also becomes a valuable partner for the various business departments.
The next step is connecting all this information to software that can analyse your costs, such as Apptio Cost Transparency. This gives you full visibility into what drives the total cost of your IT products and services, including applications, projects, labour costs, public cloud and on-premises infrastructure. As a result, it becomes easier to manage your spending, benchmark your outsourcing company, discuss costs with your business colleagues, simulate the impact of a transformation project and make investment decisions based on more facts. Knowing the full costs in detail also allows you to calculate or forecast the costs of a transformation project and prove the optimisation gained afterwards.
Full visibility comes next
There are more possibilities, such as connecting your CMBD to monitoring software to measure all flows and check for potential problems or logging software to see who has accessed what. Maybe that’s for a future blog – we can discuss the advantages of full visibility into your complete infrastructure, measurement of all your services and complete security monitoring. In the meantime, what comes as standard is a clear and correct picture of your environment that will help you make better decisions.