Categories vs. Configuration Items: “X” Marks the Spot


When you ask an organization why they are using Categories and Sub-Categories for Incident, Problem and Change Management, the most common answer you may hear back is, “For reporting, of course.” You may also hear, “We use them for routing of tickets.” Here in lies the most common misconception of Categories versus Configuration Items. The Categories and Sub-Categories can serve a greater purpose with the use of Configuration Items. Imagine that the “What” is the Configuration Item and “Fault” is the Category/Sub-Category. Several professional services organizations have referred to these two things as the Nouns and the Verbs.  Well, that is great way to summarize the difference.

We all know that establishing a CMDB is a very heavy, labor intensive process even with the use of discovery tools available in our eco system today.

QUESTION: How can I establish and manage Configuration Items when I have operational tempo to maintain every day?

Well, the answer may not be what you want to hear, however the benefits of doing so are worth their weight in gold.

ANSWER: Invest your time. Understand your CI’s from Business Services, Network Gear, Applications, to physical hardware as well as their dependencies or relational mappings.

The choice is simple. You can either continue to fight fires each day and try to chase down the “What” with inefficient means such as emails, phone calls, and misrouting of tickets, or you can provide the organization with a troubleshooting map of the possible affected CI.  I like to refer to this as “X” marks the spot.  Make the case within your organization that Categories alone are not enough to provide you the level of reporting you need, or the ability to provide you the required visibility to properly manage the organizations services and infrastructure. Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits and uses of the CMDB Configuration Items:

  1. Troubleshooting guide: A visual mapping of relationships between CI’sX Image2
  2. Information on existing Incidents, Problems and Changes to each CI from the mappings (dependencies, impact, historical information
  3. Enhance routing and escalations to appropriate support groups or individuals
  4. Govern CI’s and provide accountability for your services
  5. Improved management of changes (upstream and downstream)
  6. Increased level of reporting. With the use of CI’s and Categories, now your reporting can become more meaningful. You will be able to see the “Fault” and the “What” with the use of configuration items.

There is no silver bullet on how to accomplish the establishment of a useful CMDB. It will take time and effort to mature your organization’s Configuration Model, however the reward (“X” marks the spot) outweighs the risk of doing nothing. Let’s stop the fire fighting and let’s start building the treasure map to your efficiency together. Contact us for information on how a Cask Expert can help you achieve CMDB efficiency for your organization.