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Configuration Management

Configuration Management refers to the process responsible for maintaining information about CIs (where a configuration item is any component that needs to be managed to deliver an IT service, including IT services, hardware, software, buildings, people, and formal documentation such as process documentation and SLAs) required to deliver an IT service, including their relationships.

The goal of Configuration Management is to provide accurate information about the IT infrastructure, including CIs and how they relate to other CIs, and identify, control, maintain, and verify the versions of all CIs in the IT infrastructure.

The objectives of Configuration Management are to bring all IT services and infrastructure components, with their associated documentation, under control, and to provide an information service to facilitate the effective and efficient planning, release, and implementation of Changes to the IT services.

Although Service Manager does not include workflows for the Configuration Management process, it does support Configuration Management functionality, through the Configuration Items workspace and the connectors, which provide an instant CMDB (database) and configuration management system (CMS) (tool) functionality.

Table 3.12 lists the key terminology of Configuration Management.

Table 3.12. Key Terminology in Configuration Management

Term

Explanation

Configuration Item (CI)

A component of an IT infrastructure, or an item associated with an IT infrastructure, that is or will be under the control of Configuration Management. CIs include not just hardware and software, but documentation, procedures, and role charts. CIs vary in complexity, size, and type, from an entire system to a single software module or minor hardware component.

CI attribute

A piece of information about a CI. Examples are name, location, version number, and cost. Attributes of CIs are recorded in the CMDB.

Configuration Management System

A set of tools used to manage an IT service provider's Configuration data. Compare with the CMDB; the CMS is the tool or system that provides access and presents data; the CMDB is the single logical database that may consist of multiple physical databases that stores the CI data.

Configuration management database

A database that stores all relevant information about IT components (CIs) throughout their life cycle.

Configuration Management helps IT professionals, teams, and organizations achieve a critical outcome: knowing what CIs they have, where they are, what their status is, and how they relate to the other CIs they have.

Because resources are to be allocated to the Incident Management process, the value of that process to the business has to be determined so that the resources allocated can be justified. To determine the value the organization places on the Configuration Management process, consider these questions:

  • What is the value of knowing the detailed configuration of the IT infrastructure is at any given point in time? How can this help in resolving Problems or performing system upgrades?
  • What mechanism do you have in place to ensure you have good information on the number, type, location, and status of CIs you have and how they relate to one another, and when there is drift between what is and what should be, to correct this?
  • What mechanism do you have in place to track growth, capacity, and rate of change of CIs?
  • What mechanism do you have in place to keep your Configuration under control, with fewer errors and less unauthorized equipment and better support for the delivery of quality IT services and more cost-effective service provision?
  • What provisions have you made to reduce the number of Change failures due to inaccurate Configuration data and improve Incident resolution time due to availability of complete and accurate Configuration data?
  • How do you ensure you have accurate information about CIs and control of them, and how are they updated when changed?
  • What provision have you made to ensure adherence to legal (such as licensing), security, and regulatory obligations related to CIs? To reduce the instances where unauthorized software is in use causing risk to the business and Incidents caused by unauthorized CIs?
  • How does your knowledge and lack thereof of your Configuration help or hinder your financial and expenditure planning?
  • You cannot recover what you do not know about. How comfortable are you that your current Configuration is known so that it can be recovered in the event of a disaster?
  • How in control are you of the number of versions of CIs that are in use, and what is the impact does that have on your ability to enforce IT security and protect your information assets?
  • How certain are you that the CI data you have enables you to perform impact analysis and schedule Changes safely, efficiently, and effectively?
  • Do you have a mechanism in place to provide Problem Management with data on CI trends so that the chronic issues can be identified and eliminated?
  • To what extent does control of your Configuration or lack thereof contribute or take away from cost-effective provision of quality IT service?

The value of Configuration Management should drive all further discussions and decisions on scope, priority, resources allocated to, and automation of the Configuration Management process with Service Manager.

Reporting is a means of understanding and managing the performance of the Configuration Management process. Although Service Manager includes out-of-the-box reporting functionality for Configuration Management, you can look to MOF and ITIL for further guidance and what to report, when, and why. This can include percentage reduction in unauthorized CIs detected, percentage reduction of CIs out of compliance with desired Configuration baselines and regulatory compliance, and reduction in the number of failed Changes resulting from incorrect CI information.

Figure 3.4 shows the process activity workflow for Configuration Management.

Figure 3.4

Figure 3.4 Configuration Management process activities.

Configuration Management roles include the following:

  • The incident manager, who owns the results of the Incident Management process
  • The service desk manager, who owns the results of the service desk function
  • IT managers and analysts in first-, second-, and third-tier support groups, including specialist support groups and external suppliers
  • The problem manager, for major incident handling

Table 3.13 lists key inputs and outputs of Configuration Management.

Table 3.13. Key Inputs and Outputs for Configuration Management

Input

Output

Change Management requests to update CIs

IT service continuity management relationships for continuity plans

Release Management audit of infrastructure

Financial management for capturing key financial information on assets

Change Management for identifying impact of Changes

The following key questions must be answered to drive decisions when implementing the Configuration Management process with Service Manager:

  • What is the value of Configuration Management to the business?
  • What CIs are within scope for Configuration Management, and what CI levels (depth of detail on CIs) are to be kept for each?
  • What CI attributes must be tracked and what CI record fields and drop-down (enumeration) list values will you require?
  • What are your CI naming conventions?
  • What will your CMDB design include? What will be brought over from Active Directory (AD), Operations Manager, and Configuration Manager? Will you need to extend the schema to allow for additional fields, or purchase a third-party product such as Provance to get the functionality you need?
  • Who will own the Configuration Management process?
  • Which metrics will you track, and which reports will you produce as a basis for managing performance? Will custom reports be required?
  • What provisions have you made to ensure a PIR is made after major Problems?
  • What role will announcements and knowledge articles play in the Configuration Management process?
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