Getting the Most out of Your CMDB

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole spoke with Brian Emerson, senior solutions marketing manager, Atrium technologies, and John McKenny, director of marketing for mainframe service management, BMC Software.

 

Cole: Your approach to the configuration management database (CMDB) is that it should contain only select data that other systems might not filter out. What are the appropriate data sets for a CMDB and how does your software make the determination of what gets in and what stays out?
Emerson/McKenny: A CMDB should contain information about two things: core data about configuration items and information about their relationships. Data related to configuration items (CIs), including incidents, problems, change requests, etc., is all data that should be federated. This means the data continues to reside in its existing repositories and not in the CMDB. The CMDB provides federation technology to discover and identify related data if and when it is needed by the IT processes that leverage the CMDB. Key guidelines for determining CIs that should be stored in the CMDB include:

 

  • Data that is required to deliver a service (applications, servers, network equipment, etc.).
  • Data that is identifiable as a unique entity.
  • Data with some characteristics that can change (CMDB is all about managing and verifying configuration changes).
  • Manageable data.

 

It is important to note that the CMDB software is not responsible for determining what configuration data is in and what is out. Based on ITIL best practices, the details and scope for CIs should be determined by the IT processes and will likely vary from company to company. BMC Software provides a best practices and standards-based approach to our CMDB common data model (based on ITIL and DMTF's Common Information Model), while at the same time providing flexibility for customization based on customer requirements.

 

Cole: The Atrium 2.0 is described as "lightweight" yet robust. What does that mean?
Emerson/McKenny: Part of this stems from the answer to the first question. By stating that the CMDB should store core CI data and federate related data, this allows us to keep the CMDB lightweight and maintainable. A good analogy is to compare the CMDB federation model to a library card catalog. A federated model provides just the right amount of information to get you to the data you need, similar to a library card catalog that provides you author, title, data and a link for how to find a book in the library.

 


BMC's federated CMDB model provides several benefits that promote lightweight architecture. Transactional data can be stored in databases that are better able to handle a high volume of requests, instead of in the CMDB. The CMDB can then focus its functionality on CIs and their relationships, while modifications are not required to hold related data. In addition, the overhead required to provide this functionality is not wasted on data that doesn't need it, and multiple data migrations and integrations are not required. By following this approach, customers can continue to leverage the investments they have made in existing technologies.

 

Cole: IBM is talking up its mainframe approach again and there is even talk that the thin client model is poised to make a comeback. Where does BMC stand on mainframe development? Will it play a significant role on product development going forward?
Emerson/McKenny: We see our customers investing in mainframe development, and the platform's use continues to expand in the majority of our customer environments. As a result, BMC continues to invest and is very active in mainframe development. Our customer analysis reveals that root-cause analysis and change and configuration management are hot issues. In December, we released BMC MAINVIEW Transaction Analyzer as part of our transaction management strategy. With our new offering, customers can quickly find and fix complex problem transactions. Just this month, we released BMC Impact Integration for z/OS, which enables mainframe events to be sent to the BMC Service Impact Manager. As part of our recent CMDB announcement, we shared our plans to extend our CMDB Automated Discovery offering to include the mainframe by year's end. Each of these last two offerings will enable customers to more easily include the mainframe in their BSM implementations. So yes, the mainframe will play a significant role in BMC's software development efforts.



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