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Diarmid
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Joined: Mar 04, 2008
Posts: 1884
Location: Newcastle-under-Lyme

PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kev,

I don't really understand your reply.

Who is managing these hubs?

How is the risk to the service minimal if the consequence of failure is loss of service?

How can a hub be replaced if there is no data for what it is, where it is and what its function is? - This is what has to be in your CMDB.

It is not necessarily the role of the Configuration Manager to verify all the data; it is the CMs role to ensure that the data is verified, but that can be done, for example, by support technicians.

The CIs you put in the CMDB are whatever components are important for the continuing delivery of the service.

The attributes, relationships and classifications you apply to the CIs are the ones that are important for the continuing delivery of the service.

The steps taken to verify the accuracy of the data in the CMDB are the ones that maintain an acceptable risk level for an acceptable cost. If that means a once a year audit for some items and an hourly check for others, then that is what must be done. It is horses for courses. the probability is that no one will touch a hub except a service engineer. It may well be sufficient that engineers verify the condition of the device when they make a site visit, coupled with the capability of your network to notice when it cannot communicate through the hub in question.

Your idea of grading the reliability of your information is interesting, but reality is much more complex. for example, information of who uses an item may well be in reverse of your order for the serial number. Certainly, auto-discovery will be of little use for that; it may also be of little use for determining physical location of many items unless everything is hard-wired.

If server engineers are not trusting the CMDB, then perhaps you need to look at how they get involved in the gathering and maintenance of the data. Especially, they should be expected to correct the data when they find it wrong or incomplete. Parts of it are, after all, their data.

There is not much point to a CMDB that is not appropriately integrated in all the processes of service support and delivery.
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"Method goes far to prevent trouble in business: for it makes the task easy, hinders confusion, saves abundance of time, and instructs those that have business depending, both what to do and what to hope."
William Penn 1644-1718
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milligna
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Joined: Oct 27, 2008
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Diarmid,

With regard to the specific example of these hubs, our company inherited network support (along with other services) from another IT organisation. We have a large number of "managed" network devices which have remote support capabilities - we have these listed in our CMDB and all is well with support. These "dumb" hubs service regional offices with a dozen or less users and cannot be remotely managed. We never inherited even an asset registry from the customer for these devices, and we don't have the resources to send engineers around the state just to audit the details of these hubs, even though we KNOW that they are present in each regional location. We are not expected to remotely manage these hubs, just arrange for their replacement in case of failure so our service levels are not at risk - we don't manage these components of the network. This is why the "risk to the service is minimal".

Our company as the outsourcer is not in a position to spend money on audits of configuration data - I don't think it's really been costed into the service charges. This seems to be a common mistake for outsourcers when performing ITSM processes as a part of a managed services offering.

I agree that the verification can be as simple as getting engineers to verify if and when they attend the site and eyeball the device - however we don't have the initial data to feed the CMDB yet - there's nothing to verify! At the very least I'd like a serial number or something!

I also agree with your point about the support teams having some ownership over the CMDB data. This is something that needs to be approached at a cultural level. I think it can be done, but would need a lot of "babysitting".

Cheers,
Kev
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Diarmid
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Joined: Mar 04, 2008
Posts: 1884
Location: Newcastle-under-Lyme

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kev,

if your only responsibility wrt these hubs is to organize an engineer and arrange replacements when they fail, then pretty much all you need in the CMDB is their location and model number plus history of when replaced and by whom. If the serial numbers are not in the purchase records or the engineers documents, then live without them for now.

Slightly oversimplified but that would be you doing Configuration Management for them. When an engineer replaces one, s/he records the serial and model number. By their nature they are not subject to being moved about or fiddled about with (you would soon know if they were because they would stop working). So the risk is low and any more verification effort is high cost. Voila!

It would still be worth doing a periodic sample audit (not always to the same site) both to confirm what you believe about the devices and to make sure you understand the information provided by engineering visits.

Your fallback is your stats on failures. Anything strange about that should prompt action even at some cost.
_________________
"Method goes far to prevent trouble in business: for it makes the task easy, hinders confusion, saves abundance of time, and instructs those that have business depending, both what to do and what to hope."
William Penn 1644-1718
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milligna
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Joined: Oct 27, 2008
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Diarmid,

We'd more or less come to the same conclusion about tracking nothing but the location and device type without unique serial numbers.

I had considered having a "generic" CI for Hub and relating it to all sites where we know one of these devices to exist and then adding specific CIs when full device details become known, but our toolset doesn't have locations as CIs.

Thanks!
Kev
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