I’m sitting on my sofa at home (Yes! Home!) on Sunday morning just before Christmas. I’m “shut down” for the holidays now, but of course, I’m watching Twitter and now listening to my brilliant friends Chris Dancy and Troy DuMoulin discussing CMDB (configuration management database) on the Practitioner Radio podcast. It’s a marvelous episode, covering the topic of CMDB in with impressive clarity! I highly recommend you listen to their conversation. It’s full of beautiful gems of wisdom from two people who have a lot of experience here – and it's pretty entertaining too!
I agree with everything these guys discussed. In particular, I love the part where they cover systems thinking and context as the key to linking everything conceptually. I only have one nit about this podcast, and the greater community discussion about CMDB, though. Let’s stop calling this “thing” a CMDB!
I coauthored a book with the great Carlos Casanova (his real name!) called The CMDB Imperative, but we both hate this CMDB term. This isn’t hypocritical. In fact, we make this point clear in the book. Like the vendors, we used CMDB to hit a nerve. We actually struggled with this decision, but we realized we needed to hit those exposed nerves if we were going to sell any books. Our goal is not to fund a new Aston Martin with book proceeds. If so, we failed miserably! We just wanted to get the word out to as many as possible. I hope we've been able to make even a small difference!
Last week, Forrester’s Service Management and Automation team attended FUSION 13, an annual conference jointly hosted by itSMF USA and HDI, in Nashville, Tennessee. FUSION is a key conference for IT Service Management professionals - for three days ITSM pros are immersed in a content rich environment where they're encouraged to share knowledge and learn from one another, as well as from a plethora of industry experts, practitioners, vendors, and thought leaders alike. It's impossible to leave without having made new friends and new discoveries in the realm of IT Service Management. Approximately 2000 ITSM professionals attended the 2013 conference, with the theme "graduate to better service management."
The buzz of this year's event can be easily put into two terms: revolution and status quo. Yes, you read that correctly. And while these two terms are quite contradictory, when put into context they actually are somewhat related - don't worry, we'll explain. First, the status quo:
At FUSION 13, we presented the results from our third annual ITSM survey Forrester does in conjunction with itSMF USA, and not much changed year-over-year. Aside from a few minor rumblings, ITSM maintained the status quo, and in this case, no news... is news:
Here’s the hard truth:IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams are becoming less relevant. This will only accelerate now that we are in what Forrester calls “the age of the customer” where bring-your-own-technology policies and “as-a-service” software and infrastructure proliferate.
In this new world, developers still need compute and storage to keep up with growth. And workers need some sort of PC or mobile device to get their jobs done. But they don’t necessarily need you in corporate IT to give it to them. Case and point: employees pay for 70% of the tablets used for work.
At the end of the day, if you can’t deliver on what your workforce and developers care about, they will use whatever and whoever to get their jobs done better, faster and cheaper.
Much of this comes down to customer experience, or how your customers perceive their every interaction with the IT organization, from your staff in the helpdesk to corporate applications they access every day. Here’s a proof point on how much customer experience matters from Forrester’s soon to be published book, Outside In: over a recent five-year period during which the S&P 500 was flat, a stock portfolio of customer experience leaders grew 22% percent.
On 22-Nov-2010, Attachmate Corporation announced it was acquiring the assets of Novell, Inc. Once on top of the IT world, Novell's glory had clearly faded. Along the way, however, it acquired several attractive assets of its own (e.g., PlateSpin, Managed Objects). Towards the end of its independence, the future certainly looked bleak for Novell and especially its management software businesses.
The immediate reaction to the Attachmate acquisition was skepticism among most industry watchers, including yours truly. My reaction was similar when Attachmate acquired NetIQ. After all, what rationale is there to a legacy mainframe software company buying either NetIQ or Novell? The perception was that all of these product families would be milked for their maintenance revenue and innovation, and other development would be killed. It now appears these fears were largely unfounded, though I stand by my original skepticism. Veterans like me have seen such things unravel before.
The various Novell assets have been redistributed across four companies in the Attachmate Group, with the management assets being assimilated under the NetIQ brand. While a full merger of the NetIQ and Novell assets will take at least a year, the (now) NetIQ team has moved with impressive speed to launch its initial consolidated families.
The IT management software and operations communities have been buzzing this week about reports that Microsoft acquired IT process automation vendor Opalis Software. We have unequivocally confirmed that this rumor is incorrect. Opalis has NOT been acquired by Microsoft. It remains an independent entity, at least for now.
Opalis, based outside of Toronto, has repeatedly reported impressive revenue growth over its short history. For the past few years, it has been a desirable morsel for larger vendors seeking to add strong process automation to their portfolios. Many have expressed interest, but its success allows Opalis to command a high premium that no suitor has yet been willing to pay.
I am off to the annual itSMF USA conference in Dallas TX, better known as Fusion 09. This is expected to be the biggest and best IT Servcie Management conference yet and the pinnacle of the itSMF USA organizations progress to date. I hope these predictions come true because I am an avid supporter of itSMF and its mission to promote service management excellence.
As one element of a new partnership between Forrester Research and itSMF USA, we will be holding one-on-one meetings between conference attendees and Forrester analysts. Both my delightful and brilliant colleague Evelyn Hubbert and I will be there and we look forward to one-on-one meetings with as many people we can fit in!
With all the wonderful sessions that will be happening at the conference, it is tough to pick favorites. Still, here are the sessions I hope to catch while I'm there.
CA is a vendor that already enjoys a leading position in overall network management. Its 2005 acquisition of Concord, which brought along the assets of the previously acquired Aprisma, instantly moved CA from an also-ran to one of the clear leaders. Concord was good, and CA has an impressive track record of growing that business since the acquisition. Still, there were some weaknesses with regard to more advanced performance analysis.
On September 14, 2009, CA finally addressed these performance gaps by announcing its intent to acquire NetQoS for $200 million. Based in Austin, TX, NetQoS is one of those exciting small companies that proved there is a better approach to many of the challenges we face. It is one of the true innovators in performance management of both infrastructure and applications.
EMC continues to tease the market with its management software ambitions, taking another step this week to build on its portfolio. On May 27, EMC announced its intent to acquire Configuresoft, a vendor of server configuration and change management (CCM) software. Forrester views this as a positive development for both companies but we eagerly await more.
This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get in my many interactions with people on the topic of CMDB. The short answer is, “A CMS is possible, but the common model of CMDB is not.” I have even been challenged on Twitter that CMDB is nothing more than an endless time sink (follow glennodonnell to see the threads). Sadly, this is a common perception that is fueled by the many failures resulting from an unrealistic view of CMDB as a monolithic database.
Well, actually vice-versa! The configuration management database (CMDB) is a hot topic these days in IT. With my arrival at Forrester, I am ambitiously building upon the solid foundation of thought leadership my colleagues have built on CMDB. One topic I wish to address is the notion that people (yes, you and me) are configuration items within the whole CMDB discussion.
When people talk about CMDB, they usually refer to infrastructure components as CIs. In some more enlightened cases, they accept that applications and business services are also CIs. As we assemble all of these CIs into cohesive views of our world, we need to include another critical domain -- us.
That’s right, no view of the IT or business landscape is complete without considering the roles of the people. Some of us are technology support, some are users, some are external customers, some are executives, and some are outsourced service providers. In the context of business services, we are integral elements to the service definition.
Some will interpret this concept of relegating people to CIs as cold and demeaning. This is certainly not my intent, but when you realize that we are all cogs in the greater business machinery, it quickly becomes apparent that we are normalized at some structural level to business impact strikingly similar to infrastructure. That’s not cold, it’s just the way it is in a sound service model. It doesn’t mean anyone is any less witty, charming, or warm.