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Coming up with a new configuration and change management plan

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Coming up with a new configuration and change management plan


 

blog chaos it opsRecently TechTarget Senior Executive Editor, Alex Barrett, reported on the need for 'Coming up with a new configuration and change management plan'. He observes that in "...todays world, change will be come the norm, so we will all get a good dose of it going forward. 2013 will be a transition year to something new for processes and complex business outcomes."

Barrett shared that for IT, "despite all our practice dealing with change, doing so gracefully and efficiently is still one of the most challenging aspects of IT operations." 

With the pace of change growing, and seeing the way it impacts IT operations, this made look at how IT teams need new, more efficient ways to enable change, especially under pressure, to support business needs.

The number of organizations that have effective processes in place is small.

In the article, Barrett says, "IT organizations follow established practices and procedures in the hopes of minimizing outages and maximizing service levels (the metric by which many of them are judged). But while we all want more uptime and the better outcomes that change management promises, the number of organizations that have effective processes in place is small"

IT is under incredible pressure, bombarded by many change requests for complex inter-dependent systems under the intense demands of business to release - now. When any little change can end up being the impetus for a high impact incident, it is not surprising for organization to experience painful stabilization periods after releases, and even production outages. So why does change management lead to the failure of so many IT projects? What causes them to be particularly vulnerable and what can be done about it? 

Chokeholds in the Change Management Process 

The change management problem is the industry's own making.

In the article, Barrett explains that, "Part of the change management problem is the industry's own making. Not so long ago, IT management vendors and practitioners got it in their heads that the first step toward change and configuration management was to implement an IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)-inspired configuration management database (CMDB)."

Change management is meant to track and document even the most fine alterations in systems, allowing an IT staff to accurately find, follow and fix any part of the infrastructure. Yet a new reality with a breakneck pace of changes, makes today's change and configuration management harder than ever. 

New Reality for Change and Configuration Management 

Adoption of CMDBs has been somewhere between modest and downright disappointing.

In the article, Barrett includes, "depending on whom you ask, adoption of CMDBs has been somewhere between modest and downright disappointing. While CMDBs are commonplace in the Fortune 1,000, the number of implementations trails off for smaller organizations, said Ronni Colville, an IT operations management analyst at Gartner."

The traditional CMDB, was originally designed for static, physical systems. Implementing CMDB is a huge, almost unachievable, undertaking, leading to many project failures, and prompting IT professionals to rethink the relevancy of CMDB. 

Is the CMDB Dead? 

Inflated expectations about CMDB capabilities.

In the article, Barrett adds, "Among the problems that organizations have cited are high costs for software and consulting, difficulty in populating the database, intergroup politics, and inflated expectations about CMDB capabilities."

CMDB or other tools layed on top of CMDB provide only partial information. CMDB for example, just focuses on high level information and doesn't go (or it's not practical to go) into granular and detailed configuration information. Other tools focus only on a specific technology, ignoring the full scope of the IT environment. The result: the IT organization misses a major part of the configuration information required for effectively managing complex business systems.

Monitoring Sucks (and What We Can Do About It) 

Many organizations undertook initiatives without properly analyzing the work involved.

In the article, Barrett reports, "Indeed, in the early days of CMDBs, many organizations undertook initiatives without properly analyzing the work involved or the business justification, said Gartner's Colville. As a result, she said, "there were a lot of false expectations. People were like, 'It doesn't solve world hunger. It's not making dinner. What the heck?'""

Many IT organizations discovered that while the CMDB was a great idea (in theory), it just didn't work practically. Data in the CMDB couldn't be trusted. Mega projects for populating the CMDB consumed vast amounts of time and resources. The CMDB was too difficult to use and turned out to offer little or no value to the IT operations specialists in their day-to-day job. The praises that IT professionals have for their organization's CMDB are few and far between. 

Change and Configuration Management Is Sexy Again!

Your Turn
Are you ready to effectivly support change in your IT environments?

About the Author
Martin Perlin