CA Announces Latest Milestone in the ITILization of Its Toolset

Is ITIL tailor-made for the Six Sigma Generation?

The information technology infrastructure library (ITIL) has been a big underground success—at least among IT and business cognoscente—for a long time. Developed more than 20 years ago, it was seeing encouraging (if not widespread) adoption by the mid-1990s.

These days, ITIL has all but gone mainstream. Forrester Research, for example, predicts that ITIL implementation levels will nearly triple by the end of this year, surging from 13 percent to 40 percent in $1 billion-and-up companies. No wonder—ITIL describes a library of best practices designed to help organizations improve the quality of their information technology services. It’s tailor-made, in other words, for the Six Sigma Generation.

One measure of ITIL’s mainstreaming is its growing presence in the systems and network management toolsets marketed by BMC Software Corp., Computer Associates International Inc. (CA), IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., and others. Late last month, for example, CA announced the latest milestone in the ITIL-ization of its own systems and network management toolset, CA Service Management Accelerator—a new Configuration Management Database (CMDB) that functions as a repository for ITIL information.

Rob Stroud, director of brand strategy at CA, says so many of his company’s customers are interested in ITIL that many have even developed ITIL practices. ITIL adoption is especially brisk in the banking and financial services industry, which isn’t surprising. What is surprising, however, is that so many customers have embarked on ITIL without first crossing their technological T’s.

“We’ve certainly seen a lot of our customers adopt it globally. One of the interesting challenges that we’re hearing from our customer base is that ITIL is a very descriptive set of best practices that take quite a bit of time to massage into your organizations, and companies are looking to translate this descriptive information into descriptive technology plans,” Stroud says.

Enter CA’s Service Management Accelerator and CMDB. Stroud describes Service Management Accelerator as a comprehensive tool to help drive ITIL success by linking people, process, and technology components together. The CMDB, on the other hand, is designed to help speed implementations by giving organizations a graphical visualization of these relationships.

“We’re going to be shipping a series of predefined relationships, in terms of configuration items out of the box, and a large number of predefined reports. They’re designed to help get our customers productive with the CMDB quickly,” he comments. “These [out-of-the-box configuration] products can auto-populate the CMDB, you can understand the relationships, and you can see that if you have a specific server that’s become unavailable what other [people, process, or technology resources] that’s going to impact.”

Right now, CA’s CMDB repository can be populated by its own management toolset, although the company does claim to offer out-of-the-box support for Microsoft’s Systems Management Server. CA hopes to add support for other management suites over time.

“The first concept with the CMDB is that it absolutely has to live with other products, other management products, so [in the first release] we’ve provided the ability to populate our own products. The first adapter for a non-CA tool is the SMS adapter, and we plan to release a universal federation adapter for all other tool sets, all other products. That will cover everything from a third party application to a home grown application,” he observes.

Third-party support must also wait on standards, Stroud says. “At the moment there is not a good standard around for doing this. That’s why we’re very happy to be involved in the CMDB Federation Consortium, so we’re working with EMC, IBM, and others to come up with an industry-standard practice that can be used by all of the vendors.”

In spite of CA’s software-centric focus, Stroud stresses that ITIL isn’t a technology problem.

“It’s really about understanding enterprise change management as a process. It’s not really about going and buying a series of software components—it’s about understanding what the journey is. If an organization is having a business problem of unavailability, and you go through trying to figure out why you’re having unavailability, and you diagnose it as poorly planned or implemented change, the route you should go down is reviewing a change management process,” he says.

In keeping with this process-centric emphasis on ITIL, CA also promotes ITIL education—it launched 14 new ITIL courses last month, bringing its total to 18—as well as maturity-assessment services.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.