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CMDB standards wrangle

'Big Six' shun top down approach

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CMDB? That's Configuration Management Database in long-hand, and it is the tool through which IT managements can keep a handle on the increasing complex melange of applications, tools, utilities and the rest that go to make up the operational IT infrastructure of a business or organisation.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) in particular will be pretty hard to manage, especially when it comes to building the essential composite applications, without a repository of some sort that knows where every tool, utility and application component can be found, how it interacts with everything else, and what it needs to work.

Now the big names of IT infrastructures are circling around the growing CMDB sector. IBM recently announced the upcoming arrival of Tivoli Change and Configuration Management, while Computer Associates has MDB, and BMC offers Atrium.

HP is currently lagging behind in this area, with a roadmap pointing to 2008 for a CMDB offering to appear. These are now being joined by companies like Managed Objects which are, according to its CEO Siki Giunta, approaching the CMDB requirement from the top down rather than bottom up.

"There has been talk of standardisation in this area," she said, "but the 'Big Six' companies only want to talk about standardising the data model and the database. We say the more important element is the data built on top of the database - the processes and what you do with them."

Meetings to explore data model standardisation have been held, but Managed Objects has not been party to them. "We called them all, and they didn't want us there."

Managed Objects' implementation of the idea is called CMDB 360o and has over 60 points of integration that allows it to generate a fully federated CMDB from existing IT configuration data held in other databases. "We've always been open and we welcome any type of standardisation," Giunta said.

The company claims that the analytic tools incorporated into the system are capable of providing users with a full understanding of their IT infrastructure and the services that are affected by it. This points to the system offering advantages not only to users looking towards implementing SOA environments, but also those facing up to the problems of compliance management - both in terms of asset management issues relating to Sarbanes-Oxley and risk management in terms of Basel II.

Not surprisingly, large financial institutions form the majority of beta testers, and one factor here may be the claim that, though a typical installation will cost some $250,000, the return on the investment can be had in weeks rather than years. ®

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