Good decision making starts with good configuration data

Looking at all of your options seems logical, anytime you are challenged with a tough decision, it is best to make sure you have as much information as possible.  Our judicial system is based on this idea— judges and juries gather information from all sides of a trial to make a decision. The NFL and other professional sports leverage technology to make sure they are making informed decisions.  Military leaders crave intelligence on their enemy before pressing forward with a battle plan.  If these entities use all of the facts before making a decision, why is it that business and IT leaders are forced to make decisions every day without a complete picture of their environment?

In the examples above, information is gathered in various ways…investigations, television replay, recognizance, etc.  IT organizations also have ways of gathering information. Unfortunately, this information comes in silos, with disparate tools, and with varying degrees of accuracy. In addition, there is limited governance once data is gathered to ensure integrity over time. Well, if the NFL can modernize and leverage available technology…so can IT.  Before we present a solution, let’s take a look at some very common use cases where informed decision making is critical for IT.

Recently, a global energy company embarked on a Configuration Management project with Whitlock to drive the following value:

  • Improve server cost recovery (IT derives much of their budget via charge back)
  • A 5 percent improvement in accurately associating server assets with applications will provide $687,000 in additional cost recovery for a 3-year benefit of $2,060,000
  • Improve mean time to recovery
    • Reliably meet committed SLAs
    • Reduce the business impact of major incidents
  • Configuration management will help improve SLA by 20 percent. This puts performance comfortably between the 120 minute (exceeds) and 180 minute (meets) SLA.
  • A 20 percenter improvement in restoring service improves impact by $1,860,000 or a 3-year benefit of $5,580,000

Certainly, there is compelling financial and non-financial ROI to justify the project.  So how can they achieve these numbers?

I am not sure if you caught it, but in the text above, I used a scary word for some people…Configuration Management.  However, the thought of ITIL process and the potential for a large consulting effort with questionable outcomes does not have to be scary any longer.  It is time to embrace Configuration Management!

Configuration Management.png

Simply put, Configuration Management is the epicenter for all data in IT!  Without a proper Configuration Management System (CMS)…IT is blind and lacks the basic information required for decision making which means the business is also flying blind!

Once you overcome the initial concern with successfully implementing a CMS and focus on the potential ROI, you need an approach.  In this case, our customer leveraged the Whitlock ValueFirst method as follows:

Whitlock.png

The output from applying the above approach yielded a detailed three phase plan.

  • Discovery – The ability to collect and track current state of the environment from a wide range of technologies, including hardware, virtualization, OS, software, and relationships over time
  • Integration – The ability to consume data from and provide quality data to other systems
  • Governance – The ability to detect and report on changes and deviations from defined configuration and data quality policies

The key elements to achieving each of these phases was Hewlett Packard Enterprise Universal Discovery and UCMDB which allow reconciliation of data from multiple discovered and federated sources into one data set, and transform data into actionable information.  The comprehensive set of CMDB tools collects, stores, manages, updates, and presents data about software and infrastructure services configuration so you can lower costs and mitigate risk.

In summary, the customer was able to achieve the following:

  • Defined why they needed (not wanted) a CMDB and the expected value
  • Defined what they needed in it (not wanted)
  • Defined who needed it and how they were going to use it
  • Defined enablement to ensure consumers knew how to leverage it
  • Defined data quality policies and an audit approach to ensure the ongoing quality
  • Defined roles and responsibilities to endure ongoing success and governance

The result – Turned a three-year marginally successful CMDB effort of questionable value into a strategic resource in less than four months and gained the support and recognition of the organization for their ongoing efforts.

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