I have been writing about, or at least referencing, a new "structural" approach to management. It crops up often when I talk about the notion of a configuration management database as an enabler so that multiple management applications can access data gathered by other applications based on policy and appropriateness. Used in this way, a CMDB enables organizations to avoid having to invest in 50 or 60 different brands or types of tool sets (I counted 250 in one environment), each with its own data gathering, configuration and topology mapping, data store and analytics.In this CMDB model, a "structural approach" would then suggest reshuffling the Legos (excuse the metaphor) so that data gathering, data sharing, and relationship building would evolve to become an effective, shared endeavor across management investments, rather than a hugely inefficient siloed approach that reinforces siloed processes and siloed operations.But this is just one example of a structural approach to IT management - arguably the most visible across the management landscape today. For the sake of this column, suffice it to say that this structural approach examines the obvious basics in what we call Enterprise Management Associates Semantic Model for:* Data gathering.* Data reconciliation.* Configuration and topology mapping (or relationship building).* Data stores.* Analytics.* Visualization.* Automated actions.* Service to business alignment.Each of these is an area of modular investment and growth. Looking at the industry this method has been astonishingly useful in understanding how partnerships might evolve, for instance, and how IT planners might make the most of existing and future investments. And of course, it cuts across all existing market definitions.More broadly, EMA looks at this "structural approach" in terms of how product design criteria meet user adoption requirements, and how the tension across those dynamics is dictating the pace and direction of the IT management market today. It may not be as visible as the apparent land grab in network management via mergers and acquisitions, but it's in my opinion more profound. It is impacting how management systems will evolve over the next years - probably the next several decades. And it is also influencing choices in how management vendors affiliate, integrate, compete and - in the more enlightened cases - acquire new investments.One of the most interesting areas to watch in this "structural" approach is analytics. And by this EMA means real-time as well as historical analytics. Analytics in EMA's definition can and should support virtually all IT management disciplines, and range in everything from comparators and correlators, to flow-based capabilities for anomaly detection, to neural networking and chaos theory, to data mining and OLAP [online analytical processing]. Smart adoption of analytic systems, much like the CMDB, should expand beyond a single usage and support multiple types of actions and decision-making - such as analysis across network systems and applications. In some cases, a single analytic system can enable everything from security requirements to accounting and billing.Much like the CMDB, analytics can become a way for smarter investment and integration across different brands of management solutions. But unfortunately, the industry has not yet awoken to analytics in this modular vision. (It's probably safe to say that it hasn't done that fully yet in the area of the CMDB, which still remains confused and clouded in terms of value, approach and investment.)To help shed light on the need to "look under the hood" in your management investments so that you can plan more astutely, EMA is developing an "Analytics Roadmap" - a report available in the second quarter\u00a0of this year. As part of the drum beat in making that report available, EMA is producing a Webinar on the relevance of analytics to the CMDB, a topic I wrote about in November (see "Why a CMDB without analytics is not enough"). Analytics apply both to enabling your CMDB to be effective, and to leveraging the hard-won resource of a consistent, trusted data store. If you want to gain more insight into EMA's structural approach, and save yourself a lot of grief and really make a CMDB count, the Webinar should be of value, and of course it's free. You can view the Webinar on Tuesday, Feb. 7 here.