New IT job: CMDB manager

* It's recommended that IT departments include a CMDB manager through the lifecycle of the CMDB from planning to maintenance

Enterprise IT departments looking to successfully deploy and maintain a configuration management database should also consider redefining one staffer's responsibilities and role into CMDB manager, according to a recent report from Forrester Research.

Implementing a CMDB is no small undertaking, as has been widely reported, but still industry watchers contend establishing a repository of configuration items and their relationships is a must for IT because a CMDB underpins many IT service management initiatives.

"The [CMDB] is still a central theme for today's infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals," writes Forrester Research Senior Analyst Evelyn Hubbert. "Organizations are making significant improvements in mastering CMDBs and implementing this as a central process discipline."

Because the CMDB is not about rolling out a single product but more about shifting best practices to support a collection of up-to-date and inter-related configuration and change metrics about IT infrastructure and applications the need to assign ownership of the task arises. And as companies work to implement a CMDB across systems, they might start exploring the concept of a federated CMDB in which all the data is not stored in one repository, but a record of where it is stored is easily accessible through the use of standards.

The best practices of service delivery and management in ITIL detail the importance of a CMDB and many vendors such as BMC, HP, IBM and Managed Objects updated their product portfolios with the technology. But a successful CMDB relies upon process, technology and people, according to Hubbert, and without incorporating all three components, IT organizations can face challenges.

"Forrester clients often cite missing business value, technical challenges, difficulties in the planning stage, and mishaps in the overall project management stages as stumbling blocks," the report states.

The research firm recommends that IT departments include a CMDB manager through the lifecycle of the CMDB from planning to maintenance. And if the service management effort grows significantly, IT shops should consider creating a team of CMDB managers to enable subroles with distinct responsibilities, Hubbert writes. Lastly, the CMDB manager should report to the head of infrastructure and operations.

"The most important challenge with the implementation and operation of a CMDB is culture," she writes in the report. "A CMDB requires a shift in how IT thinks about the underlying configuration items that are either logical or physical and federated across IT."

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