If you invest in it wisely, your service desk can play an important role in helping you run efficient IT operations and generate service revenues. The technologies available to the service desk are advancing rapidly. Let’s take a look at some you should be aware of.
Your service desk consolidates Incident Management, Problem Management, Change Management and Release Management. It does this in two ways: through the configuration management database (CMDB) and IT Asset Management (ITAM).
When CMDB and ITAM are properly configured and maintained, your operations team can track any asset (aka “configuration items”), all of their relevant attributes, and how they interact with other items. It can be a powerful advantage. Current IT service management (ITSM) technologies (which include ITAM) can ensure that your customers and employees have access to essential business services on an uninterrupted basis. In a progressive IT organization, ITSM can play a key role.
Before we get too deep, let’s step back and define all of these acronyms:
Configuration Item – ITIL defines a configuration item as anything that needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT service. This includes hardware (servers, routers, switches, laptops and phones), software, employees, specific IT services, the actual office buildings, process documentation, subscription licenses, contracts, SLAs… the list goes on.
CMDB – The basic definition for CMDB (again, as defined by ITIL) is a database containing attributes of configuration items and relationships between configuration items. It’s a place to collect and store data on assets – what they are, where they are, who owns them, how they’re configured, variables that can impact the business in any way, and any relationships among them.
ITAM/ITSM – ITAM is the organizational strategy component of ITSM. It provides visibility and control of assets across their full lifecycle, from procurement to disposal. Here are the key attributes of ITAM:
- It is comprised of an appropriate mix of people, process and technology required to effectively manage assets and to capture, maintain and use asset information
- It supports decision making across multiple functions (e.g., finance, contract management, inventory management, procurement, etc.)
- It will interface with nearly all of your other IT processes, including change management, financial management, incident and problem management, and more
- The Asset Management system provides the overall procedures and policies, while the CMDB is one of the tools used to enable those business processes.
SACM – Under the ITIL umbrella, ITAM comprises half of the Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) paradigm. SACM defines the relationships and attributes of all of these components, across every service in your infrastructure. In that environment, SACM is a combination of two important processes:
- Asset management, as described above
- Configuration management, which tracks the configurations of and relationships between the various components (or configuration items) of your various IT services and whose data is also stored in your CMDB
Tactical & Strategic Benefits
What do Asset and Configuration Management bring to the table? Why should you invest in this level of apparent overhead?
Your ITSM platform ensures that your employees have access to the business services that they need to do their jobs effectively. The ITAM component, with a well-populated CMDB, enables a number of tactical benefits, including:
- Faster incident resolution times
- Full visibility into redundancies (such as multiple licenses for one user)
- Root cause analysis
- Efficient change management with full view of impact and minimal risk
- Automatically updated, real-time data on all assets within the organization
These tactical advantages lead to more strategic benefits. It helps a business provide proactive service rather than reactive service. With real-time data on users, hardware, software, networks, contracts, business sites and other assets, your organization can:
- Achieve better cost management of services
- Identify impactful relationships for improved planning and delivery of changes and releases
- Proactively anticipate upcoming problems before they occur (e.g., you can identify assets that might need to be replaced)
- Ensure more efficient resolution of incidents and problems, meeting SLAs more frequently
- Reduce your risk of non-compliance to important legal, regulatory and procedural standards
With businesses of all sizes rapidly increasing their use of cloud-based, SaaS solutions in their overall portfolio, modern ITAM techniques used to discover, track, control and optimize application subscriptions are essential to keep order in the house.
As automation technology grows stronger, there will be more proactive service measures. As AI technology grows stronger, your IT team will be able to lean on smart features to help recognize patterns in configuration records that will indicate when some type of service action needs to be taken.
Faster, smarter service begins with collecting the data within your organization. To date, the CMDB is the most effective way to collect, store and organize that data. Using that as a solid foundation for your ITAM deployment, you can enjoy many quantifiable business benefits.