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IT Documentation and ITIL – a Good Match?

August 5, 2013

Today, every IT professional is familiar with the term ITIL which stands for the well-known IT process framework. For many of them, however, creating an “old-fashioned” IT documentation is not on the agenda, or they simply do not know about the relationship between classical IT documentation and ITIL.

ITIL and Configuration Management Database (CMDB)

Basically, ITIL addresses the definition of processes for optimising IT procedures. In this context, people often forget that, within the Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) process, a Configuration Management System (CMS) is requested which consists of multiple Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs). Simply put, a CMDB provides a defined storage structure for all relevant information within the IT environment. This entails a variety of requirements to be met by the CMDB such as versioning, management of any types of configuration items (CI), the definition of relationships between individual CIs, and the creation of baselines. Here, configuration items represent information types, e.g. servers, network adapters, routers, printers, etc. During process execution, the system will usually reference CI entries from the CMDB. Thus, an incident describing a printer failure may be linked with the corresponding printer (CI) in the CMDB. References to CI entries are even made for concepts such as operating manuals, emergency plans, etc.

ITIL CMDB and IT documentation

The clever thing about this is that a CMDB essentially represents a classical IT documentation. And this is exactly where IT documentation and the ITIL framework meet. In practice, there are always the same issues with IT documentation and ITIL CMDBs:

– Which types and which level of detail should be covered?

– How can IT documentation and its data be kept up-to-date?

– Can the data be linked to other systems?

– How can the data be interrelated in a simple manner?

– Is it possible to visualise the data clearly and easily?

The problem is aggravated by the fact that many good software solutions that support ITIL processes focus on the very processes and neglect the CMDB side. The result: limited flexibility or an extremely high manual maintenance effort. My experience shows that every solution which implies a high manual maintenance effort will inevitably fail as it is hardly accepted by the users and suffers from out-of-date data.

ITIL CMDB and Docusnap

With our Docusnap software solution, we address this very issue. At the heart of Docusnap, there is a flexible CMDB solution that you can extend as required. Docusnap boasts approximately 1,200 pre-built CI types that are automatically populated with data from an agent-free inventory scan. Missing CI types may be configured with just a few clicks and populated by bulk data import. Data acquisition can be scheduled, ensuring that the data is always up-to-date. Additional requirements such as baselines and snapshots are covered as well. Another highlight: the graphical representation of any configuration items can be linked to an automatic layout.

Docusnap is shipped with templates for important IT concepts. All CMDB data can be linked dynamically with these concepts, i.e. they will be updated automatically. This also allows you to create dynamically linked plans, reports, and diagrams.

An easy-to-configure data interface bridges the gap to the ITIL process systems and allows an effortless integration of the Docusnap ITIL CMDB.

Interesting Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Configuration_management_database

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Configuration_Management_(ITSM)