This blog entry was originally posted on: The Imperative Blog
I recently had a discussion with someone about the notion that some individuals believe that the CMDB is not possible to implement and that ITIL V3 is too complex. Because of this, they are recommending that companies stick with ITIL V2 vs V3. The main point we kicked around was the fact that if individuals don’t fully appreciate the intentions of the ITIL V2 and the CMDB, they could very easily fall into the trap and believe that it can’t be done. This is a mindset that I believe has been the foundation of most failed ITIL efforts.
ITIL V3, although on the surface to some may appear to be more complex than ITIL V2, is in fact a clarification of ITIL V2 much more so than it is an upgrade. Many of the components detailed in the ITIL V3 literature are merely elements that were left out of the V2 literature forcing every individual and organization to fend for themselves in trying to define what it all meant and how they were going to glue it all together. In ITIL V3 however, they have made a valiant effort to at least identify these areas and document some best practice around them. I am not stating that everything in the ITIL V3 literature be viewed as gospel by any means but it is at least is a step in the right direction to identify the gaps and put some structure around them.
This lead us to the discussion on whether or not a CMDB can be built. I would agree that a “CMDB” is very hard and possibly impossible to build ‘IF’ and ONLY ‘IF’ your view of it is a single monolithic repository as prescribed by the black & white written words of the ITILV2 literature. If however, you fully digested the purpose of what the CMDB was intended for and what problems you were trying to resolve by implementing it, I totally disagree that it can not be done. The concept of a CMDB can be deployed but it must be in the form of a federated CMS if you stand any chance to succeed.
The key to success is in the simplicity of purpose. Like every other complex entity, the CMS is just made up of smaller components that can be addressed somewhat independently but under an over-arching umbrella. If tackled on that level, the CMS can become a reality to most organizations. I’m not implying that it will be done overnight and won’t come without challenges, challenges which will typically be on the cultural side rather than process or technology end. A key element to this success of course is still a true adoption of the purpose of ITIL and not simply a belief that it is something “you implement”. If your organization and/or leadership believes it is a project to implement rather than a philosophy to adopt, you will very likely not succeed regardless of whether you head down the ITIL V2 or V3 path.
ITIL is much more of a cultural transformation rather than a process or technology implementation and until everyone accepts that, there will continue to be many failed attempts to implement ITIL, regardless of which version is being attempted.