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Automation and the CMDB

Don't be a Wile E Coyote, never catching Roadrunner!

Get in, go fast, crash quick…Who cares where you’re going!

Speed and aggressiveness have been the approach for many organizations trying to “implement” Configuration Management; or should I say “CMDB”. For as long as I have been involved in Configuration Management, there have always been people out there pontificating on how “Automation will solve all problems” and will “deliver a CMDB”. These are of course almost always product vendors trying to sell a “CMDB solution”. See a conflict of interest here?

The problem is that a CMDB is not the solution to your problems, Configuration Management is. And unfortunately for everyone looking for a quick fix, there is no “tool” that delivers Configuration Management. Only a comprehensive governance model along with technology stands the chance to deliver Configuration Management.

Getting desperate

When faced with repeated outages and poor impact analysis resulting in yet more outages, you get desperate and start convincing yourself that automation may be “the” solution. But it isn’t. I assure you. It doesn’t mean that automation can’t deliver value, but it is not the solution. There is no short cut to implementing governance and controls. It takes structure, maturity and a well laid out plan for how you will get there. But first and foremost it takes effort to define what exactly it is you’re trying to fix. What Business Outcomes are you trying to achieve? Do you even know? Have you defined and documented it? How would you recognize it if you never defined it?

Configuration Management is an enabling capability that requires lots of thought, patience and planning. It involves lots of moving parts and requires you to think outside of your traditional three-tier technology framework. You need to look at your business operations as the sole driver for your existence. Without the existence of business operations, you aren’t needed. It’s that simple. Once you come to this realization, you will be in a position to understand your business well enough to accept that everything you do must deliver positive Business Outcomes. At that point, then a Configuration Management governance model, supported by a CMDB based upon a technology solution leveraging automation, is a possible reality. Otherwise you’ll waste lots of money and time and deliver little or value.

Don’t be the Wile E Coyote of your organization

Plowing forward at full speed without an understanding of where you’re going is foolish unless you want to resemble Wile E Coyote chasing the Road Runner. Trust me, that never ends well for him nor will it for you. ACME Products supplied Wile E Coyote with plenty of tools and products but that only helped him to go off the cliff faster and in more creative ways. They never helped him catch the Road Runner and neither will blindly implementing automation help you deliver on Configuration Management.

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