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ITIL :: View topic - 20% Technology, 80% Business to get CMDB to work
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20% Technology, 80% Business to get CMDB to work
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matterw
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 5:57 am    Post subject: 20% Technology, 80% Business to get CMDB to work Reply with quote

I wanted to start a thread around what keeps coming up over and over again as I speak with customers. Long story short, I've been implementing CMDB solutions for large financial, insurance and pharmaceutical organizations for some time now and it seems that now more than ever with all of the CMDB solutions on the market customers are coming to me and asking "So, what technology should we use to have a successful CMDB."

While I would love to say go use BMC Atrium, IBM Mercury, etc... and your answers would be solved I just can't give them that cock and bull story. I keep information them that it's about the business process and business drivers that make it successful. Case in point, I have one customer that when out and bought a well known CMDB product and went off on its way to populate it with autodiscvoery data and realized 8 months later that they are no further ahead from where they where before they started. Well, now they have $2MM more hardware than did they previously. So, we're starting where I left them off with them a year ago to get on the right track.

I can go on, but I wanted to start a discussion on what other people have found. Do they really think the technology will simply answer their problems? Do they understand there is some heavy lifting (i.e., culture changes, etc...) to make it work?

Let me know...

Matt

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Guerino1
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 6:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Matt,

I have to agree with you on this. The big issue is that many people don't even know what a CMDB is, let alone truly understand why they really want or need one.

We find that most people we speak with don't even understand what type of configurations they want to track and manage, which would also be critical to know before you actually invest in a CMDB.

Where we start is by asking them: "Why do you need a CMDB?" To be more specific: "What is your business justification for having a CMDB?"

Most answers to these questions are pretty weak. What we find, more often, than not, is that people are just looking for "inventory" solutions, so that they can itemize what they own.

Another question that always draws either a blank stare or a look of amazement is: "If you know your configurations at the time that you create them, why would you invest in expensive infrastructure monitoring and scouring tools to tell you what you already know?"

It really does come down to understanding your processes, when information is created in the processes, and how it should be stored, managed, shared, accessed, and rendered. However, restructuring processes in an enterprise goes hand-in-hand with restructuring the enterprise, itself, in most cases. This is not something that most enterprises want to do, as it usually requires a very significant amount of time, money, and energy. So, instead, it seems many people will just opt for a tool.

I hope this helps.

Best Regards,

Frank
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huima
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First of all I have to thank you guys for discussions in these forums, since these thoughts have helped me to grasp better what the CMDB market really is and how one does need to know the businessneeds properly before attempting to solve problems with software.

I work for the Helsinki university - and we are currently working towards implementing ITIL as a framework for IT-management, and I am one of the responsibles specifying what kind of tool we should have as a CMDB.

Personally most of the commercial offerings scare the hell out of me because of their price - and thoughts about not being able to actually reap the benefits from the investment. Hence I would like to create a path that allows us to start with small investment and learn more about what we should do, how should we do it - and only when we are truly ready to step up in the game, switch to better suite of tools.

My question to the more experienced ones is, are there any reasonably good opensource solutions that we could prototype with and model our CIs - and how our processes would work with CMDB?

As I have learned from the forum, I do believe that for best results - one should be clear about the business requirements, and then choose an integerated solution for CMDB and service desk needs. There doesn't seem to be good solutions, if you want to mix and match products from different vendors?

So my second question requests pointers for integrated solution vendors that we should look, when initially we have just few tens of thousands to invest?
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AlphagamerTyson
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Imo Frank points out some valid questions there to which he will probably seldomly get a decent answer. More than anything else I have seen people who wanted to implement a CMDB because "their manager told them to get one" and the big boss himself often wants one because it's a nice statement.
That's where my main concern comes in, these top level managers often only deal with salesmen and only discuss the financial figure and not what the solution actually can do for their company ...

It is dangerous to state but since you asked for it : personally I found Infra Enterprise and CA Unicenter to be decent products, but Remedy is to be avoided in my opinion.
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superspoc
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is too funny, so many people are looking for the magic bullet or knight in shining armour to delvier the technology result of the century, the fully automated, fully populate, self reconciling CMDB, and for a small investment of no less that 7 figures we can give you an ROI of NOTHING!

Great thread and seems people are going along the same lines with thought. I have done many reference calls in the last 6-12 months with some very large instituions where cash flow clearly isnt the issue. What is the issue is the though process of some quite senior people that overnight getting a respository full of their technology assets means they get a green light and a big tick in the box as they now have control.

How do you keep it fresh, accurate and managed? The minute someone logs in that morning and a new package is deployed to a PC or an antivirus update is pushed, CMDB is already stale.

So many of the big vendors and toolsets think by jumping on the latest framework cah cow, and claiming to be compliant, which doesnt exist, they can solve this issue. It doesnt work that way.

I am supposed to be attending a presentation tomorrow on the latest and greatest Atrium solution, and my first question is this : Show me how i model my dependencies and use that do determine the the risk of me planning this RFC for Friday 3pm imlementation.....oh really, you cant do that by default? I need a developer to do x,y,z......NICE, btw heres a big fat check to support you botox infused wife!
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Guerino1
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 5:09 pm    Post subject: The New Breed In ITIL Tools... Reply with quote

Huima,

Please find my answers to your questions, below...

huima wrote:
My question to the more experienced ones is, are there any reasonably good opensource solutions that we could prototype with and model our CIs - and how our processes would work with CMDB?


In my experience, the answer to this is simply "no". I have yet to see anything from the open source community that will function as a solid CMDB that yields true value to an enterprise. There are some little toys and specs for things that really are no more than Asset Registers but I don't see anything that is a true CMDB. Part of the reason for this is because a CMDB means many different things to many different stakeholders in your enterprise. I have a white paper that I use for lectures I give, which specifies the true and generic requirements of a CMDB. While I make no claims that it is perfect, it seems to have, both, withstood the test of time and gotten stronger as I get constant feedback that helps improve it, with ever engagement. You and others are always welcome to it. Simply contact me at "Frank<dot>Guerino<@>TraverseIT<dot>com and I'll send you a copy.

Quote:
So my second question requests pointers for integrated solution vendors that we should look, when initially we have just few tens of thousands to invest?


Ah, let the games begin...

"Integrated Solutions Vendors" for ITIL... what a novel concept. My friend there are only two that I can think of:

  • Service-Now
  • TraverseIT (the company I lead)

(NOTE: If anyone can find others, please let me know as we're always looking to understand our competitive landscape and who knows what pops up under the radar).

At the risk of not waking the tempermental Forum gods, I ask that the moderators understand that I am not trying to sell but give a view into the new landscape of ITIL tool solutions that are starting to hit and impact the market. Let's hope the rest of this post doesn't get deleted...

The things we (Service-Now and TraverseIT) share in common...

  • In both cases, the solutions are "Software-as-a-Service" (SaaS) based, meaning they're hosted and accessible through the web. This means that you no longer have to buy the software, provision the systems, hire dedicated resources, worry about integrating everything, host and support the systems yourself, etc. All of that goes away. Older tools that were not specifically designed and built for SaaS will most likely have a very hard time bending themselves in this direction.
  • In both cases, because these two solutions are SaaS, they are "live" and connected utilities to your enterprise, meaning that you don't worry about anything other than the subscription price. You don't worry about builds, deployments, verification, infrastructure, dedicated headcount, etc. It's all wrapped up and offered to you by people who do nothing but focus on ITIL tool solutions all day long, every day. This is important because well over 99.9999% of the enterprises in the world are not ITIL tools providers. This means that you have a much higher probability of getting better long term tool solutions from experts that focus on the ITIL domain 24x7.
  • In both cases, the fully integrated solutions can be offered at a very small fraction of the price of traditional ITIL implementations, because you're getting solutions through massive economies of scale.
  • In both cases, you're leveraging modern and very cool Web 2.0 technologies and paradigms.
  • In both cases, it doesn't appear that you get "nicke and dimed" (pardon the american currency expression) for each module. I can speak for TraverseIT and definitively say that this is the case with our offering. One low per user subscription price currently gains access to the entire platform.
  • Both appear to be US companies. Service-Now operates on the west coast, while TraverseIT operates on the east coast.

The primary distinguishers...

  • I could be wrong but based on what we've seen, Service-Now's CMDB seems to be nothing more than an Asset Register, where ours is a system that actually allows yout to manage and shows the visualizations of very detailed "relationships" between entities.
  • Our offering (the TraverseIT "KnowIT" platform) is really meant as a large scale IT Operations platform, in the true sense of the word. We are not out to "just" solve ITIL, where it seems that Service-Now focuses "only" on ITIL. We (TraverseIT) are out to solve for "IT", as it applies to the leader that has to worry about the big picture, not just production operations. As a result, our platform has many embedded solutions for disciplines that are required by other areas of IT, such as those in the Product Management processes (SDLC/PLC). While I believe we cover the largest number of out-of-the-box and fully integrated solutions for ITIL disciplines, our offering for embedded and integrated ITIL solutions is really only a small portion of the master platform, which targets the integration and optimization of "all of IT" (and even many non-technical business units as many of our solutions are generic enough for other areas of a business, such as Project Management, Product Management, Request Management, etc).
  • TraverseIT is newer and privately funded, where Service-Now appears to be partially owned by VCs, as their online news has claimed that they went through at least one round of funding with VCs.


It is important to understand that ITIL, as a concept, is still in its infancy. It may even be overtaken by some more mature concepts that seem to be slowly working their way out into the public. If you look at the "history" of ITIL related tools, you will find that most tools existed "before ITIL" and were "bent" to look like they are ITIL solutions, many times simply through nothing but marketing. As a result, many of these tools handle very focused and individual areas of ITIL. Also, you will find that the copy-cat sector copied themselves off these "bent" ITIL tools and, as a result, tend to focus on ITIL the same way. So, you'll find many newer tools that are implemented to look, feel, and smell like many of the older, rebranded tools.

NOTE: I am not implying that all such tools are bad. There are definitely very effective ones out there. However, my point is that very few tools were conceived, planned for, designed, built, verified, and deployed with ITIL in mind, from the ground up. The new era of SaaS solutions is showing us that we can very effectively "collapse" ITIL discipline specific tools into single integrated offerings that are a fraction of the cost and offer far more, when it comes to features and functionality. As a result, when done correctly, a CMDB is not a separate tool but "is the integrated platform", itself.

Anyhow, I hope this helps.

Best Regards,

Frank
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alphasong
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 12:36 pm    Post subject: it's all about the IT value chain Reply with quote

I have a slightly different take. As I was trying to make sense of the numerous internal IT tools I was being called upon to integrate and rationalize, I came across the concept of "ERP for IT" and a lightbulb went off. We have large scale systems that manage the bulk of our HR processes, financial processes, supply chains, and manufacturing - but we lack a similar integrated view of the single largest consumer of capital in business and governmental operations today. That is, information technology.

The salient feature of ERP systems is that they manage value chains: "book to close," "order to cash," "procure to pay," and "hire to retire." I've proposed that the IT value chain might be called "inspire to retire." The concept is not new nor unique; John Gibert contributed similar insights to ITIL v2, and the "service lifecycle" approach of ITIL v3 is essentially the IT value chain.

This value chain, in its primary and supporting processes, comprises our fundamental business requirements. The CMDB is only one of a number of systems underpinning this value chain. One of the common mistakes people are making is assuming that the CMDB *is* the ERP for IT system; as currently defined, it is not. In particular, other systems are needed that we'd be ill-advised to scope into a CMDB:

- Demand and portfolio management
- Architecture modeling
- Application lifecycle management tooling
- Element management (including provisioning)
- Capacity management
- Financial management
- Risk, security, continuity management
- Emerging business intelligence/performance management/value management tools targeting IT (currently lacking well developed method!)

and many others. (I can purchase multiple competing tools in all of the categories above.) While the CMDB will interface with all of these, they have their own functional purposes, and we are quite a few years away from seeing the whole collection truly rationalized. In particular, there are significant best of breed advantages in remaining with a distributed architecture currently; the vendors attempting "all in one" solutions just don't have the enterprise reach yet. Nor do I believe that *any* one vendor will ever have comprehensive element-level coverage of all the platforms - that is, when you are getting into the hard stuff like discovery tools and provisioning, which in most cases are still platform specific. (A Solaris provisioning tool isn't necessarily going to support HP/UX, let alone Tandem or iSeries - all of which are running in my shop...)

But integrating systems is not all that hard. It all comes back to the processes, and also the data consumed and produced by them, which are distilled into their controlling metrics.

One business case for configuration management that is not called out explicitly in ITIL, but I have found compelling, is the simple reduction of redundant data capture. Large IT organizations are re-collecting the same data over and over again at the behest of multiple initiatives (server virtualization, risk management, application rationalization, etc, etc). This redundancy has become a flashpoint in a number of very large IT shops known to me. It's really not a bad place to begin in building the business case.

Charlie
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought ITILv3 was moving away from value chains? The new lifecycle is supposed to be a form of value network. It is a recurring statement on the press releases.

This is a term which keeps coming up more and more often. I was at a conference where I heard it used in different presentations by IBM, SAP and Boeing.

It seems to make a great deal of sense as they described. The machine building style of the value chain doesn't really describe how IT service organizations work or what they do. Many things that IT does just don't fit this sort of process model. There are many activities where it's not possible to identify inputs and outputs, let alone the sequential steps.

The growing consensus seems to be that force-fitting IT into a value chain is a strategic mistake that only adds to the problems. This may be why ITIL is moving away from it.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 8:10 am    Post subject: No consensus here. Reply with quote

Value networks, as I understand them, appear to be a step backwards. They look like pure functional models, with no process awareness. The essence of the value chain is that it is a cross functional, macro scale business process, fully in keeping with the philosophy of Michael Hammer.

Enterprise IT organizations in general have not structured themselves as a value chain, so I cannot believe that strategic error has emerged in this. If IT organizations were structured as a value chain, we would not have the perpectual "over the wall" finger pointing between development and operations. That "wall" indicates functional silos. Value chain offers a way of thinking that helps us break that wall down. Value network - not so much, in my readings.

It is true that not all activity can easily be represented as a business process. But that is because process representation is more difficult. It is also, correspondingly, more valuable in business analysis. If you want metrics - you *must* have a process. How does one "continuously improve" a value network, when nothing is repeatable or countable?

I have taken on the value network advocates on my blog. They have not convinced me. You can see extensive debate there (www . erp4it . com).

-ctb
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Joey
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I took a look at the blog discussion. I have to confess Iím becoming more and more interested in value networks. The parts about simulation and the ability to model complexity are very intriguing. I was at a conference at the IBM Almaden Institute earlier this month. There were some very heavy hitters who are quite jazzed about ITIL moving towards value networks.

I also took a look at your sample chapter on value chains. I read Porterís book on value chains back in school and it seems your model is a value chain in name and shape only. There are key concepts (other than the shape of the model) that define a Porter value chain for what it is. Many of those in your model seem to be missing or re-oriented in a way that is in conflict with Porterís logic.

Although, while the thread began with your defense of Porter's model, I did notice you sidestepped some critiques by later distancing yourself from Porter.

That said, many IT organizations have indeed adopted a (Porter) value chain method of operating. The point of adopting the value chain (or any other model) is to better conduct an improvement analysis. While I understand how a (Porter) value chain analysis is done and why it gives IT headaches, how on earth would you perform an analysis with your version of the model?

Also, you weaken your points when you lean on the Michael Hammer movement. Those ideas are in disrepute. The "business process" model does not do justice to the full complexity of a business organization. Not everything can or should be organized as a process. Hammer's approach became a disaster when companies became process-siloed. Jobs were lost and performance tanked. "Michael Hammer" is a dirty word in some circles. The term "Management Guru" never quite recovered.

I'll take a look at your book and see the detail for myself.
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alphasong
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:22 pm    Post subject: Only more or less useful Reply with quote

I did have to re-think Porter's value chain in order to fit it to IT. The classic 5 primary activities of course were not suitable.

I am not the only one to have done this - see also Sincrono, John Gibert, and Mark Lutchen (as referenced in the blog discussion).

Can you be a bit more specific in your critiques? What key concepts am I missing? And what specifically do you mean by a "value chain analysis" that my model would not support? I have also read Porter.

You overstep when you say that Hammer is in disrepute. He's still being published in Harvard Business Review. Industry looks very different post-BPM than previously. Just because overzealous consultants (probably the same kind of folks who are now "jazzed" about value networks) overapplied his theories to everything that moved, does not invalidate his insights.

Skeptically,

Charlie
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Joey
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are smarter people than me that can teach you how to do a proper value chain analysis. In the simplest sense, itís about cost or differentiation. Porter identified many drivers but they all boil down to those two. The secondary activities only have meaning in how they support primary activities, which are concerned with converting raw physical materials in a product, the argument of a value chain. Every primary activity is driven by cost concerns, even customer facing ones like marketing and sales. This is how it creates value.

Therefore a value chain analysis is about producing standard products at low cost through cost economies of scale, either through ďreconfiguring the chainĒ or ďscaling biggerĒ , etc. Again, Iím not a professional here, but the first question is typically: what are the raw materials (inputs)? If you make cars, then itís the metal and rubber your suppliers provide. If you make pepsi, then its water and sugar. The primary activities then transforms these raw materials into a final product for customers (outputs). Thatís why logistics is always first with marketing and customer service last. How cleverly the chain is analysed and configured determines how much margin (value) is generated.

Thatís why IT has problems with this model. What are its raw materials? Bits? Hardware? Power? Porterís logic loses its footing. Nor is it unique to IT, as your bloggers note, it is service industries in general.

In your model, what are the raw materials? Requirements and requests? So then your value chain is about transforming requirements into services with the customer up front rather than on the end. Or, if customers are on each end, where are the suppliers? Where are the raw materials and associated acquisition costs? How do you analyse per unit costs on requirements or requests as it becomes a service and is supported? And do lessening those transformation costs correspond to efficiencies in products? Probably not. At least not the way Porter explains.

There are other gaps, such as stimulating demand or managing changes in supply and demand. Porter had specifics in his design, such as marketing and tight vertical integration. But you should see by now how Porterís logic, tough enough to apply to IT in the first place, appears somewhat scrambled in your version.

I took a quick look at two of those alternatives you mention. One was similar to yours and the other has little relation to Porter's model. To be honest, it was pretty awful.


No interest in getting into a Michael Hammer discussion. Thereís a well known quote where even he admits he screwed up with BPR. The carnage his fad created is well-known and well documented. Even its successor, BPM, has distanced itself. It is, unfortunately, showing signs of making the same mistakes. Iíd caution you to be careful when using Hammer as an influencer. There are many senior business leaders with whom you would immediately lose credibility.

As far as the jazzed IBM Alameda conference people go, these are serious-minded system engineers and thought leaders from every industry and top schools. Not the kind of people to get jazzed easily, let alone on management fads. This isnít a typical ITSM conference debating the pseudo-science of the CMDB or the merits of a process mentality. It is considered one of the top conferences in the country whose ideas go on to influence many industries.
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alphasong
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:43 am    Post subject: Unconvinced Reply with quote

I spoke with an acquaintance today who actually does value chain analysis for a living. This person, a noted author, confirmed for me that value chain is not confined to manufacturing, and he uses it quite comfortably across various industry verticals. He has been looking into value networks and shares my concerns, and has already had salvage work with one organization where a "value network" consultant made a complete hash of things.

Let me attempt to answer your questions. The primary raw materials of the IT value chain are:

- Vendor products (hardware and software)
- Human capital
- Service inputs (e.g. network connectivity)

whose acquisition costs of course are quantifiable. Electical power and real estate are in theory also inputs, but typically neglected in the analysis (this may be changing, at least with respect to power).

Requirements are not raw materials, they are *orders* (or the details thereof, to be precise.) Since we are building to order, the value chain starts with them (customer relationship and demand management), rather than having them later in the cycle (as in the original Porter model for physical industry).

Of course, you have to agree that the "primary activities" can be re-formulated as necessary for a given problem area. If you insist on the original Porter activities (Inbound, Operations, Outbound, Marketing, Service), then I am not doing value chain analysis by your definition. (I still am by my definition and that of my acquaintance, and it's not clear to me who has the final say here.)

Requirements are not the units of analysis for IT cost accounting; the IT service itself is, and cost accounting for IT (including activity based costing) is a well developed field (see www . itfma . com). The money spent on development is understood, and the money spent on operations *can* be understood with the right discipline.

And as there are inherent difficulties in IT cost accounting, a balanced scorecard approach is preferable. Generally, IT portfolio management is the discipline of choice here. See the excellent work of Kaplan, Benson/Bugnitz and Handler/Maizlish.

As in any value chain, lessening the transformation costs, or improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the transformations, of course adds value to the bottom line for IT as well:

1. Improving the first activity, demand (portfolio) management, improves the IT investment decisioning process so that money is not spent on ill-advised initiatives.

2. Improving the systems development lifecycle is of course a keen topic, leading to discussions around software capability maturity and global sourcing. Poorly constructed systems lead to project failure and (if deployed) higher operational costs.

3. And, since 70-85% of the IT budget on average is spent on operations and keeping the lights on, clearly efficiencies here also contribute to the bottom line in a big way.

Business modeling is not trivial. Those of us who have built careers in enterprise architecture understand that modeling methods emerge slowly and over time, and are usually variations on past practice. There are only so many ways to solve the problems. I will remain highly skeptical of value networks as a method until I see some real world problems solved with them in value-add ways. This I have not seen yet. If you have some applied, ITSM specific examples that you believe superior to my framework, I would be very interested in seeing them.

Re: IBM. Even peer reviewed researchers fall into fads, so please excuse me if I remain skeptical regardless of your opinion of that conference's sobriety. Value network has the hallmarks of some academic-industrial complex hype brewing. My understanding is that IBM has helped in some ways to launch this concept, in part related to their marketing agenda around component architectures.

Finally - "pseudo-science of the CMDB"? That's quite a remarkable statement. If you understand the skeptical implications of the term "pseudo-science" then you must also understand that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Consider this a friendly challenge to back that claim up.

Yours,

Charlie
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

- Iím puzzled how I became a spokesman for value networks. My last message made no mention of them though I do intend to research further. Iím even more puzzled at your need to toss ad hominems at a highly respected and world renowned research facility because they investigate promising new ideas instead of falling into confirmation bias.

These are researchers famous for consistently being 10-years ahead of industry on many practical applications of the sciences. Academic-Industrial complex? You may as well just call them ugly.

- Of course this is not my value chain, it is Porterís. This is not me making this stuff up.

Porter is quite clear that primary activities deal with physical products (Competitive Advantage, 1985, pg. 38, for example). The ďarrowĒ shape of Porterís model makes explicit the sequential nature of the transformation process. Inputs get converted into outputs. So I don't think Porter's logic would let you say that demand management (orders) is the far left primary activity but my inputs are really vendor products and human capital. The physical products sound more like inputs provided by secondary activities. Again, in conflict with Porter's model. Hence my original statement that this is a value chain in name and shape only, not subject to the conditions and methods of a value chain analysis.

Now resist the temptation to call me ugly. Iím a sensitive person.

- The line distinguishing science from pseudo-science starts with the idea of falsification. Falsification claims that a hypothesis is scientific if and only if it has the potential to be refuted by some possible observation. To be scientific, a hypothesis has to take a risk, has to leave itself open being proven wrong. If a theory takes no risks at all, because it is compatible with every possible observation, then it is pseudo-science.

This is the difference between what Almeda does and what we see in ITSM conferences. The former never considers something confirmed, only that it hasnít been yet been proven wrong.

These CMDB discussions do not leave themselves open to conditions of falsification. Neither, as far as I can tell, does your IT value chain. Smile
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alphasong
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 7:48 am    Post subject: Have to agree to disagree Reply with quote

Couple of things to ponder:

Is Porter's initial representation of a value chain in Competitive Advantage, THE value chain? Or is it only an "instance of" a broader Value Chain concept?

You seem to be assuming the former. I definitely assume the latter. Others do as well. I *don't* think that even Porter himself is clear on this somewhat philosophical question. If it was only an instance of a broader Value Chain abstraction, what are the variable and invariant aspects of that abstraction? In that question, lies the answer to at least part of our debate. See the OMG's Meta Object Facility if you want to understand the basis of my thought here. The value chain, if viewed as an abstraction, has a rich yet concise implicit metamodel with great utility. Porter did not define his metamodel, so I insist that this subject is open to debate and interpretation.

Re: falsifiability. I can think of many ways in which my IT value chain could be falsified. Does Demand truly precede Development? Does Development intercede between Demand and Operations? Can we usefully see some IT activities as primary and some as supporting? Is Architecture and Portfolio Management generally positioned as a supporting or primary activity in the typical IT organization? What about IT Finance or Sourcing, Staff, and Vendor Management? Supporting or primary?

What if we took the value chain along with graphical depictions of the COBIT and ITIL frameworks and some other control example(s), showed them to a sample of IT staff and executives, and asked them to rank them based on to what extent they felt the diagram represented their reality?

These are questions that could be answered with rigorous research; I would be quite comfortable developing a methodology on this that I believe would withstand peer review - if that were my job, which it isn't.

Furthermore - falsifiability is a high bar for business modeling. Economics is called the "dismal science" for a reason. In my daily activities, I focus more on utility. Is a given representation useful for a particular purpose? Does a given system concept (CMDB) add value in a given context? (My experience is yes.)

Consider this: Is the Mendeleev periodic table of the elements "true" or "false," as compared to the lesser known alternatives?

I have received plenty of support, including from consultants in the field working with customers, that the IT value chain concept has utility. At the end of the day, that's all that matters. If something comes along with superior explanatory power, I will be very interested. I don't think that any one view will be shown to be superior, however; being a firm believer that any complex model requires multiple views (cf. Kruchten and his 4+1 approach).

What *is* surprising is that ITIL, having no basis or seeming interest in *any* formal architectural modeling method, is now advocating a novel and unproven method, unfamiliar to the vast majority of enterprise architects and business modelng professionals.

-ctb
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