Industry Insights: Renovating the Configuration Management Database

May 23 2016

Digital business is the norm for many enterprises, yet with this ongoing digital transformation, changes in visibility and service management are paramount. As part of these initiatives, they are deploying modern tooling to support their agile business initiatives. The end users I most often speak with are managing or implementing monitoring and often APM, but secondarily, they are also looking to transform their service management. Most organizations today implement a best-of-breed or mini-suite approach. As Gartner states, “During the past four years, the market share of the large ITOM software vendors has shrunk with investments going to new innovative vendors, software infrastructure vendors and open-source solutions.” (Toolkit: I&O Leaders Partner With ITOM Vendors in a Volatile Market). The vendors making this tidal shift possible include us and several others, often including our great partner ServiceNow.

Part of these service management initiatives include trying to implement or renovate their configuration management databases, or CMDBs. At AppDynamics, we believe the future of the CMDB is far more aligned to mission-critical applications, and to understanding transactional topology and users. Becoming business-aligned must occur at all levels, inclusive of the way data is captured and used. Thankfully, we aren’t the only ones who believe in this future path CMDBs must take.

I have been closely following analyst Hank Marquis, who joined Gartner last year. Hank’s background goes back to the origins of the concept of the CMDB in the mid-2000s. I had an interesting inquiry with him last year, when he said that the original intent of the CMDB was to include only critical assets, but this was twisted by most vendors in an implementation where the CMDB became an asset repository. Soon after this discussion, he published the following research document:

(Sorry, Gartner subscribers only): Three Rules to Renovate Your CMDB to Improve Business Outcomes

In this research Hank explains that you should only include the IT assets that support your CMDB business improvement goals. Hank explains that “Over half of CMDB implementations become unmanageable due to scope creep, or including too many IT assets as configuration items in a CMDB.”

Last week at the Gartner IT Operations Strategies & Solutions Summit, Hank presented “Renovate Your CMDB to Improve Business Outcomes,” where he explained how most CMDB projects fail and will continue to fail. Most organizations keep trying the same implementations and do not end up with a usable project.


The rules outlined in this slide explain some of the key ways that CMDB implementations succeed. These critical projects need a new set of constraints and ideas around them to be relevant to today’s modern and digitally driven businesses.

Hopefully, users will heed this great advice, and we’ll start seeing more successful projects. Right now I believe the 80% failure rate that Hank uses in his research to be extremely optimistic in nature.

Jonah Kowall
Jonah Kowall is the Vice President of market development and insights, helping drive the company’s product roadmap and vision, while developing entry into new markets and providing valuable technology and business insights to fuel the accelerating and broad-based demand for the company’s Application Intelligence Platform. Jonah comes to AppDynamics with a diverse background including 15 years as an IT practitioner at several startups and larger enterprises focused on infrastructure and operations, security, and performance engineering. These included running tactical and strategic operational initiatives, going deep into monitoring of infrastructure and application components. In 2011 Jonah changed careers, moving to Gartner to focus on availability and performance monitoring and IT operations management (ITOM). Jonah led Gartner's influential application performance monitoring (APM) and network performance monitoring and diagnostics (NPMD) magic quadrants and research as a research vice president.

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