IBM Trades In Silos for IT Service Management Approach

The company's new IT Infrastructure Library service, a combination of Tivoli software and IBM Global Services consulting, is designed to help IT reduce operational costs.

IBM wants to help its users bridge the gap between finding good ideas and putting those methods to work.

The company last week unveiled its new ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) service, a combination of Tivoli software and IBM Global Services consulting, designed to help IT reduce operational costs by moving away from silo-based technology management to IT service management.

"Customers spend $25 billion on management applications and $450 billion on labor to operate the current IT infrastructure. IT hasnt defined and automated its own processes," said Bob Madey, vice president of strategy at IBM/Tivoli in Austin, Texas.

"Its not about task-level automation to execute a function within IT, but its about organizational productivity—how to integrate and make sure the right person has the right information at the right time across the management silos in IT today."

IBMs new ITIL software and services, which include IBMs first foray into the configuration management database arena, also show how existing infrastructure management tools play a part in those processes that implement ITIL best practices.

IBMs new CCMDB (Change and Configuration Management Database) takes a federated approach that tracks IT data across multiple databases and provides a single view into an application that runs across many servers.

It integrates with the IT resource and relationship discovery capabilities of a handful of vendors including Cendura Corp., Collation Inc., nLayers Inc. and Relicore Inc. Those vendors tools use the CCMDB to collect information, such as the last time a change was made to an application, into a discovery library.

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The CCMDB acts as the platform for IT process automation by storing and collecting all of the configuration elements needed to execute IT processes, as well as describing the relationships between the resources and which business services they support.

It also contains a workflow engine with best practices processes around change and configuration management. And it contains a modeler that allows users to model change, configuration and other processes and allows them to start to administer change and configuration management policies that contain all of the organizations best practices rules.

By supporting the customers existing investment in "well-maintained" databases that contain accurate configuration data, and working with multiple "virtualized" databases from third parties, IBM has hit on the right approach with its CCMDB, said IBM/Tivoli user Wayne Fowler, a department manager at BMO Financial Group in Toronto.

" How do you get accurate information about what Server X is relative to a particular service, and understand the relationships between it and other servers, and after an incident is resolved, how do you tie that into problem management?" Fowler asked.

"It all has to tie into configuration management, but ultimately you have to make sure the information is accurate and up-to-date. Its important to have the kind of approach that IBM is taking with their CCMBD product. This is why we want to continue our dialogue with them," said Fowler, whose IT shop began implementing ITIL four years ago.

Along with the new CCMDB, due out in the fourth quarter, the new ITIL offerings include the IBM Tivoli Unified Process, a navigational tool that steps users through customizing and implementing ITIL best practices for mapping, modifying and improving IT processes.

It includes new "tool mentors" that for the first time show how specific infrastructure management tools such as availability monitors, software distribution, inventory or job schedulers relate to best IT practices.

The mentors show "how they relate to an IT process, how to integrate those—what information do you need and how to integrate back to them for automation—how do you use the tools to construct IT process automation," Madey said.

Also among the new offerings are IBM Tivoli Process Managers—software that automates IT processes such as coordinating application deployment across software, hardware, storage and networks. IBM Global Services also weighed in with customized services designed to help speed development and deployment of software and services to solve specific business problems.

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