4.1 Change and Configuration Management

What is it?

Modeling data centers and IT jointly and base change processes on the full end-to-end view can reveal issues and threats. For example, a rack that is supposed to have a double power feed and has a single one or a business critical application that is hosted on a single server that gets power from a single power feed. By knowing what you have and why you have it, changes can be planned and executed based on real facts (Gartner: 80% of unplanned downtime is caused by planned but badly prepared changes).

Why should you care?

It is very common for large data centers and IT organizations to lose track of installed CI’s. These CI’s are not lost, but their relation to a specific business function is. The two figures illustrate two views on IT and data center. The first has a typical IT approach where network and compute are the foundation for the applications and ultimately IT services. An IT service and application can be anything, ranging from complex business applications to “basic” services like DNS and the internet gateway.

Another approach could have the data center as foundation where power, the UPS’s, racks and PDU’s are the foundation of the model. And ultimately the two pictures are combined into one to have a true view of the chain.

This end-to-end view, from facility equipment up to the IT services delivered, is required to plan changes, compare reality to the architecture and agreed service level(s), and to solve operational issues.

Having a CCM database and keeping it up to date might seem like a trivial process, but forms the basis for the overlying processes and is key in eliminating one of the most wasteful elements that a data center can house, orphans (aka ghosts or zombies). Orphans are IT elements that no longer fulfill a business function but are kept and maintained because this basic fact is unknown. Numbers on the percentage of orphaned servers vary, but literature studies suggest that anywhere between 1% and 12% (source IBM) of the servers and storage being operated today could be switched of and removed immediately.

How does it relate to the other items in the model?

Being in control over what is out there, why it is out there and how it got there is crucial to understand why there is what there is today. Therefore this is the foundation to be able to measure the current status of facility, IT and the maturity of the teams and processes. It has a direct impact on every KPI in the model.