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ITIL Configuration Management - Starting with Asset
The complimentary reports provided by goitil are based on the experiences of ITIL qualified service management professionals. They illustrate best practice and practical implementation of the ITIL framework in real life business situations and are offered complimentary to the ITIL theory to assist you in implementing it in your business.
 
Rob Slogett authored this article. For further information please go to http://www.goitil.co.uk/
 
Introduction
 
Ask any person involved in the day to day delivery of service management which discipline they consider the hardest to implement and up in the top 3 common responses will be Configuration Management. Why is this?
 
Well my opinion is that its difficulty is caused by two basic challenges. The first of these is usage (ie what are we going to use this data for) and the second is scope (what are we going to cover).
 
Like creating a service catalogue, the implementation of Configuration Management can be made difficult due to the fact that every member of the project team may have differing views of what Config' should look like and how it is going to be used. By having information relating to your Configuration Items (or CI's), your business can benefit in a number of areas, but the commencement of Config Management can become labour intensive and if the data is not maintained, the level of pollution can render it useless, pushing you back to square one again.
 
The purpose of this report is to give a framework of commencing down the route towards configuration management, but from a slightly different angle. This approach allows you to cover of the following areas of config:
 
1) Defining and collecting CI information
2) Building your maintenance processes
 
In essence, what we are talking about here is "Asset Management" and really should be seen as one of the foundations of Configuration Management. Without having your asset information and a set of solid principles and processes to maintain this information, you goal of providing links between CI's is destined to fail.
 
Don't forget that true configuration management is not just about assets but does include how CI's inter-relate and this report is not designed to take your understanding of Configuration Management down an incorrect route. But by focusing your attention into individual assets and allowing you to start considering how to maintain this data, the transition to full Configuration Management will be much less painful.
 
The title of this report is "Starting with asset" and it probably defines very clearly what it is about. But what is the difference between full Configuration Management and Asset Management? Well let's put it into the setting of a modern day family kitchen by looking at the appliances. In terms of assets I have the actual appliances (fridge, freezer etc). I also have the utilities (gas, electric, water, waste). Finally I have all of the documents such as instruction manuals, warranties, direct debits etc.
 
All of these are my Assets.
 
In fact it could look like this:
 
Now without thinking about it, we have mimicked the exact approach that you should take in your business. What we have actually done is:
 
1) Defined the scope - Instead of trying to map the whole house, I have started with one room (ie the kitchen). When approaching this in your business / office, it would be wise to pick a single department or floor and capture the data for this single area. Remember you can grow the scope once you have established your requirements
 
2) Collected the asset information - You will notice in the Appliance column I have listed "Gas Hob" and "Electric Hob". At this point of data collection, we have started to list individual assets. For your office you may decide to refer to PC's by their owner (eg Bobs Laptop, Sarah's PC etc), alternatively you could start labelling them up with "Asset Numbers" with something like a Dymo gun.
 
Your final objective from this exercise should be to have a list of all of your hardware assets, and against each one have a nominated owner (for example in my table above I could have put my name against all of the cooking appliances and my wife's against all of the washing appliances). If you have included servers or printers within your scope, think about who is going to be the nominated owner of this asset.
 
The next step is to think about each asset in two dimensions, these being:
 
1) Attributes
2) Dependencies
 
Let me explain each one....
 
Attributes are pieces of information that directly relate to the asset. For example, my freezer may have attributes of make and model, purchase date, cubic capacity and number of drawers. In a similar way your PC asset may have attributes such as operating system, installed software, amount of memory and size of hard drive.
 
Now we come to dependencies (and this is where we start to cross into true configuration management). My dishwasher has the following dependencies:
  • Electric
  • Cold Water (Mains)
  • Water waste
  • Warranty (of which the warranty has an attribute of renewal date)
In the same way a PC might have dependencies such as a support contract, a network port, a dedicated printer etc
 
See how it's all starting to build up?
 
BUT we have fallen into the massive danger zone now, because before making the transition from asset to config, we have not explored one vital area.......
 
And that is change.
 
If I change bank account, my direct debits will change. This may impact my warranties. If I have a new boiler fitted this may affect the water feeds. This could affect the hot water feed to my washing machine.
In a similar way, a person going onto maternity leave may result in the PC being allocated to another user.
 
A non repairable fault on a printer may result in the introduction of a new printer onto your network. Considerations such as printer drivers may have to be made.
As you can see, the initial gathering of your asset information can quickly become polluted resulted in inaccurate and ineffective data.
 
If you have any thoughts or comments regarding this article then please let us know by using the comments section below.
 
 
 

3 VISITOR COMMENTS

2012-06-07 by "scott.hamilton.111"

Well written and easy to understand. Thanks for the article!

2012-10-28 by "d3c0ds"

What I take from this lesson, is migrate from AM to CM. What do you think, if we have implemented CM whether do we still necessary to use AM.
Reply on 2012-11-09
Thank you for your question. The Service Management Consultants will say 'it depends' and too a certain extent they are right. It all depends on the scope of your Configuration Mgt process within your organisation.

I would assume that you've already got your assets (PC's, Servers, Networks etc.) in scope and the Configuration Mgt process just links those assets together in the form of relationships. The linkage will depend on the Service Mgt toolset you are using and whether you have 'discovery' type products to help automate this.

So if your assets are already captured then I wouldn't see the need to re-capture those assets but just validate the data you have is accurate. Your Change Mgt process should be robust enough to ensure that the accuracy of the data is maintained.

2013-05-10 by "aqeelmajeed"

Brilliant article! Has made me understand CM so well and easy. Kitchen example just makes it so easy to understand.

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