The most important pillars of ITIL® is the traditional Configuration Management. In ITIL® V3 it’s known as Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM). If it’s not implemented, the entire service management life-cycle can be rendered useless. Let’s discuss the basics of this process.
Every service contains layers of components. Those layers contribute to overall working of that service. Let’s say for a messaging service, individual components that contribute are servers, software, networks, admins who run the show/service and others.
SACM deals with these components (individual or dependent), their attributes & relationships. Its presence with all service lifecycle makes it one of the most important process.
It’s important to understand certain terms before going any further.
Service asset – Resources and capabilities are service assets. Resources contains infrastructure, application and data. Capabilities include people, organization, management and their knowledge. In short, every single aspect of service is considered as service asset.
Configuration Item (CI) – Any component in service that needs to be controlled and managed in order to deliver a service is CI. CI may be Servers, routers, switches, printers and work documents. Each and every CI is unique. CIs are made up of attributes and relationships.
Configuration Management Database (CMDB) – Suggested by its name, it is unique database that records various CIs along with their attributes and relationship. CMDB is a subset of another system called as Configuration Management System (CMS). CMS contains many CMDBs and databases consists of incidents, changes, releases, problems and known errors.
Definitive Media Library (DML) – DML is a secure storage for media CIs. It contains master copies of all authorized media, license agreements and other documents pertaining to media management.
Configuration Baseline (CB) – When a service is implemented, there are certain additions or modifications done to CMDB. CB is drawn at this point which indicates that any further changes done to CMDB has to go through change management.
SACM can be classified into 5 areas.
1. Management and Planning
Planning the configuration management activities is a very crucial activity. It can either make or break the success of this process.
Plan – Plan what we are going to consider a CI. It is totally dependent of organization. It might happen that a particular company wants to go one step deeper and call individual components of server a CI like RAM, HDD and so on.
Planning activity also takes the accounting that how the succeeding 4 activities would be managed and what resources are necessary to achieve it.
2. Configuration Identification
Planning is one half, while execution is other.
Identifying CIs is an onerous task for most organizations. It employs manpower to a good extent and use of sophisticated tools such as auto discovery that can identify assets by polling them. Such tolls come with royal price tag as well.
The CIs identified are stored on CMDB, either automatically or manually.
3. Configuration Control
After CIs are identified and recorded, it’s in no way to end of road.
Nothing is static, not even information stored on CMDB. It’s keep on changing with every change ticket, modification, addition and decommission. The most important aspect in this activity is to control the changes done to CMDB. The changes done must be accurate and authorized by the right person.
For example, let’s say that a server is reporting a lack of memory to run a certain application. To mitigate, you increase the RAM from 1GB to 2GB. This prompts modification to be done to this CI in the CMDB. This activity controls the changes done to CIs, and this case, the attribute of a CI.
4. Status Accounting and Reporting
From time to time, organization like to know the number of assets they own, the types of assets they have, those commissioned in the past few weeks, and those disposed. Also, the different statuses that CIs have gone through over a period of time is of interest as well. All of it is covered under this activity.
5. Verification and Audit
Regular verification and audit drill are put into plan in the very first activity.
It ensures that the accuracy of CI information residing on CMDB is reviewed, and an audit over a sample size is conducted by both internal and external parties regularly.
As CMDB provides information to all other processes, it is of utmost importance to keep it as accurate as possible. Hence maximum care must be taken to put measures that will verify the data on regular basis – say monthly or weekly.