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Friday, March 16, 2012

More on Service Asset and Configuration Management

All of the information that we are interested in will be held in a repository known as the Configuration Management System (CMS) as a series of Configuration Item (CI) records, each of which has descriptive information (known as Attributes) including relationship data to other CIs. The CMS will typically consist of one or more Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs). Historically, there has often been confusion about this aspect, with many organizations striving to develop a single physical CMDB when it is the logical concept of a repository, the CMS, which is important.

Before we proceed any further, let’s take a look at the definition for some of the important terms that will be used in this topic.

Configuration Item:

A Configuration Item (CI) is any component that needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT service. Information about each CI is recorded in a configuration record within the Configuration Management System and is maintained throughout its lifecycle by Configuration Management. CIs are under the control of Change Management. CIs typically include IT services, hardware, software, buildings, people and formal documentation such as process documentation and SLAs.

Configuration Model:

A Configuration Model is a model of the services, assets and the infrastructure that includes relationships between CIs, enabling other processes to access valuable information (e.g. assessing the impact of Incidents, Problems and proposed changes; planning and designing new or changed services and their release and deployment; optimising asset utilisation and costs).

Configuration Management System:

A Configuration Management System (CMS) is a set of tools and databases used to manage an IT service provider’s configuration data. The CMS also includes information about Incidents, Problems, known errors, changes and releases, and may contain data about employees, suppliers, locations, business units, customers and users. The CMS includes tools for collecting, storing, managing, updating and presenting data about all CIs and their relationships. The CMS is maintained by Configuration Management and is used by all IT Service Management processes.

Configuration Management Database

A Configuration Management Database (CMDB) stores configuration records containing Attributes of CIs and their relationships. A CMS may include one or more CMDBs.

Configuration Baseline:

A Configuration Baseline is the configuration of a service, product or infrastructure that has been formally reviewed and agreed on, which thereafter serves as the basis for further activities and can be changed only through formal change procedures. A configuration baseline can be used to checkpoint a service development milestone, as a basis for future builds and changes, to assemble components for a change or release and to provide the basis for a configuration audit or back-out.

Definitive Media Library

A Definitive Media Library (DML) is one or more locations in which the definitive and approved versions of all software CIs are securely stored. The DML may also contain associated CIs such as licences and documentation. The DML is a single logical storage area even if there are multiple locations. All software in the DML is under the control of Change and Release Management and is recorded in the Configuration Management System. Only software from the DML is acceptable for use in a release.

CIs should be selected using established selection criteria, grouped, classified and identified in such a way that they are manageable and traceable throughout the Service Lifecycle.

One of the most challenging aspects of establishing effective Configuration Management is defining the most appropriate level at which CIs are defined. A balance must be struck between having sufficient information to be truly useful and the effort that is involved in collecting and maintaining the information.

Representing the components and their relationships pictorially can help greatly in reaching an understanding of what is required.

The CMS contains information about the logical software components, while the DML is a secure library which contains the definitive authorized versions of software approved for live use within the organization, regardless of their source. The CMS and DML are used together in the building of a Release prior to Deployment.

Software held in the DML will have passed quality assurance tests, demonstrating its integrity and its freedom from viruses. DML software can be trusted. As said above, the DML stores definitive versions irrespective of source and essential documentation. It therefore holds not only in-house developed software but also third party/purchased software, along with license documents or evidence of licenses purchased.

The DML must be secure, in terms of preventing unauthorized access, in terms of SACM controlling what comes into and goes out of the store and, critically, in terms of the physical security and safety of its contents in the event of fire, flood and so on.

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Next: Key Activities in SACM

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