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ITIL :: View topic - Build CMDB just using MS Excel?
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Build CMDB just using MS Excel?

 
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tommychau
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 8:23 pm    Post subject: Build CMDB just using MS Excel? Reply with quote

I am idiot about the CMDB? Can you just build CMDB using MS Excel? How? I know we need to define the CI relationship and the CI attributes. Is there any MS Excel template in the market??

Help...... ?
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Guerino1
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Tommy,

It will be extremely difficult for you to create the functionality of a true CMDB in Excel. You can create the functionality of an Asset Register or a CI Inventory system, easily enough. You might even be able to try and track relationships in another Worksheet. However, maintaining relationships in Excel will be extremely cumbersome, almost to the point where it's not worth doing so. Also, keeing and being able to recall CI histories in Excel will be very difficult.

The reality is that a CMDB is not an easy undertaking, regardless of the technology you use. It probably makes sense for you to start to create "inventories" of CI categories. Once you have a process around maintaining those inventories, to keep them fresh and up to date, you may want to improve your processes to start to take on CI histories and then relationships between CIs. By that time, assuming your processes are all in place and your enterprise not only buys into them but relies on them, you might be able to justify the purchase of a real CMDB to help you out.

I hope this helps.

My Best,

Frank Guerino, CEO
TraverseIT
On-Demand ITIL
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Cekir
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Joined: Jan 12, 2007
Posts: 48
Location: Warsaw, Poland

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tommychau,
Yes, you can. It is possible. You can even have your CMDB on paper. Depending on the size of the environment you may have bigger problem with maintaining CMDB then maintaining the infrastructure.
I would estimate the usability of the elementary CMDB solutions types as follows:
<10 machines - paper CMDB (or VI Smile )
10-150 machines - electronic tables set (like MS Excel)
150 -500 machines - naked database (like MS Access)
>500 machines - professional CMDB solution

So, if you have less then 150 machines, you will easily find your own template of which attributes and which relationships you want to store on which MS Excel worksheet.

Note, that if you want to integrate your CMDB solution with other tools, like Service Desk tool, you will need more advanced solution, unless of course your Service Desk tool is another MS Excel Workbook.
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Krzysztof (Chris) Baczkiewicz
IT Standards Support
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Guerino1
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Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Christopher,

I hope all is well.

To further your point, you can inventory small amounts of your CIs in Excel but you really can't go much further than that, easily. Listing CI inventories in Excel is not the same thing as a CMDB. It's an Asset Register/Inventory/Catalog (these three terms are fundamentally synonymous), which is a completely different thing.

For a system to be a CMDB, it must show the following requirements:

- It must allow the inventorying of any CI types/categories.
- It must be able to track relationships between CIs, such as one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, many-to-many, and circular.
- It must be able to maintain snapshots/checkpoints. To do so, it must maintain versions of CIs and version of relationships.

The first bullet will be easy enough to maintain in Excel. However, the last two bullets will be difficult to maintain in Excel, even for small data sets. This doesn't mean it can't be done. It just means it will be difficult to accomplish.

However, as I mentioned in the previous post, I'm all for starting simple and with a basic set of CIs that can be inventoried in Excel. Putting solid processes in place that defines CI types, inventories CIs when they're created, and keeps track of them when they're modified is definitively a great start.

Tommy, you can look to processes such as:

  • Asset Management to manage Infrastructure CIs
  • Resource Management to manage Human CIs (This will break down into things like Customer Relationship Management to manage Customer CIs, Vendor Relationship Management to define Vendor CIs, etc.)
  • Document Management to manage your documentation CIs.
  • Product Management to manage your Product CIs.
  • Service Management to manage your Service CIs.
  • Release Management to manage your Release CIs.
  • Change Management to manage your Change CIs.
  • Incident Management to manage your Incident CIs.
  • Problem Management to manage your Problem CIs.
  • Requirements Management to manage your Requirements CIs.
  • Risk Management to manage your Risk CIs.
  • Project Management to manage your Project CIs.
  • Etc.

NOTE: The list of CI types within each of these high level ontological categories is very large.

So, yes, I agree with you that most small enterprises will get away with managing the basic inventories for each of the above CI types in Excel but few will successfully track and manage relationships in Excel. However, the reality is that as you grow, you will hit a ceiling that will require more than spreadsheets. It is always critical to understand that an "inventory" is not a CMDB. It's an "Inventory" or a "Register" or a "Catalog". What makes a CMDB is, more than anything, the ability to define and maintain relationships between CIs. Doing so is what will be diffult to maintain in something like Excel.

I hope this helps.

My Best,

Frank Guerino, CEO
TraverseIT
On-Demand ITIL
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tommychau
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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much for all your evaulable information. So if we don't use MS Excel for CMDB, what is the appropriate tool/system in market to do the CMDB? BMC ?? OpenVeiw Configuration Management. We have more than 1000 machines.
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Guerino1
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Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Tommy,

tommychau wrote:
Thank you very much for all your evaulable information. So if we don't use MS Excel for CMDB, what is the appropriate tool/system in market to do the CMDB? BMC ?? OpenVeiw Configuration Management. We have more than 1000 machines.


The answer is, "It depends what you want to achieve."

If you're trying to manage simple inventories of your infrastructure assets and their configuration settings, then there is a large offering of tools that utilize Asset related autodiscovery as a way of populating what they call their CMDB. (Look at things like BMC, HP, CA, Tideway, etc.).

If you want inventory tracking mechanisms with Foreign Key relationships features and the ability to define relationships between CIs, you can look at things like BMC's Atrium, HP's Asset Center, Service-Now, and our own TraverseIT.

If you start looking for a CMDB that' more like an enterprise knowledge management system and go beyond the scope of just infrastructure, then your list narrows to things like our own offering (TraverseIT).

Note that features and costs will vary greatly, from vendor to vendor, so it's important to understand what you want to accomplish in, both, the short and long term, before purchasing.

Anyhow, I hope this helps.

My Best,

Frank Guerino, CEO
TraverseIT
On-Demand ITIL
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Cekir
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Joined: Jan 12, 2007
Posts: 48
Location: Warsaw, Poland

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guerino1 wrote:

For a system to be a CMDB, it must show the following requirements:


Frank,
I meant that you not always need a specialized software to maintain CMDB.
My point was that the less machines you have, the more CfM operations you can do manually. Having up to 150 computers you are able to put every change manually into MS Excel. If you have more then this, you need some automation. If you have more then 1000 machines, then you need a good automation, which means having CMDB specialized system.
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Krzysztof (Chris) Baczkiewicz
IT Standards Support
Eracent
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