The Standard ITIL Framework - ITIL Concepts

Figure depicts the standard ITIL configuration management framework. ITIL doesn’t provide a beginning-to-end flow of activities, but rather a set of coordinated tasks that happen mostly at the same time.

Each step gets revisited as your environment changes. These steps are not specifically called a process. Instead, the steps tell you what elements should be in the process without specifying exactly what that process must be.The phrase often heard in service management circles is “descriptive but not proscriptive.”

Standard ITIL Framework

ITIL provides an outline of the configuration management process.

Planning

Due to its interrelations and interdependencies with other processes ,Configuration Management is one of the pillars of the ITIL methodology. This makes its implementation particularly complex.

Although a detailed plan for the implementation of Configuration Management is more than we can offer here, it is worth highlighting the following basic points:

  • Put someone in charge: excessive decentralisation may result in a lack of coordination and undermine the whole process.
  • Invest in a software tool suitable for the tasks required: manual organisation is impractical.
  • Carry out a careful analysis of the existing resources: management of stocks, assets, etc.
  • Clearly establish:
    • The scope and objectives.
    • The level of detail
    • The process or implementation: order of importance, Gantt chart, etc.
  • Coordinate the process closely with Change Management, Release Management and the Purchasing and Supply Departments

A lack of planning will almost certainly lead to incorrect Configuration Management, with serious consequences for other processes.

Identifying Configuration Items

An identification scheme is needed to reflect the structure of the product. This involves identifying the structure and kinds of components, making them unique and accessible in some form by giving each component a name, version identification, and configuration identification. It consists of setting and maintaining baselines, which define the system or subsystem architecture, components, and any developments at any point in time. It is the basis by which changes to any part of an information system are identified, documented, and later tracked through design, development, testing, and final delivery. CI incrementally establishes and maintains the definitive current basis for Control and Status Accounting (CSA) of a system and its configuration items (CIs) throughout their lifecycle (development, production, deployment, and operational support) until disposal.

Configuration identification is the process of identifying the attributes that define every aspect of a configuration item. A configuration item is a product (hardware and/or software) that has an end-user purpose. These attributes are recorded in configuration documentation and base lined. Base lining an attribute forces formal configuration change control processes to be effected in the event that these attributes are changed.

Controlling Configurations

Configuration change control is a set of processes and approval stages required to change a configuration item's attributes and to re-baseline them. It includes the evaluation of all change requests and change proposals, and their subsequent approval or disapproval.It is the process of controlling modifications to the system’s design, hardware, firmware, software, and documentation.

Configuration Management needs to be given timely information about all component changes and purchases so it can keep the CMDB up-to-date.

The record of all the hardware components must be begun when the purchase is approved and the component's status must be kept up-to-date throughout its lifecycle. All software on the live system must also be correctly recorded.

The control tasks must focus on:

  • Ensuring that all the components are recorded in the CMDB.
  • Monitoring the status of all the components.
  • Updating the interrelations between the CIs.
  • Reporting on the status of licenses.

Status Tracking

It includes the process of recording and reporting configuration item descriptions (e.g., hardware, software, firmware, etc.) and all departures from the baseline during design and production. In case of suspected problems, the verification of baseline configuration and approved modifications can be quickly determined. Configuration status accounting is the ability to record and report on the configuration baselines associated with each configuration item at any moment of time.

It is essential to know the status of each component at all points in its lifecycle.This information can be of considerable value, for example, to Availability Management so they can determine the CIs responsible for degradation in quality of service.

It can be of considerable value for the analysis of the use of software tools offering visual representations of component lifecycles, organized by different filters (type, manufacturer, person responsible, costs, etc.).

Auditing

An independent review of hardware and software for the purpose of assessing compliance with established performance requirements, commercial and appropriate military standards, and functional, allocated, and product baselines. Configuration audits verify the system and subsystem configuration documentation complies with their functional and physical performance characteristics before acceptance into an architectural baseline.

Configuration audits are broken into functional and physical configuration audits.They occur either at delivery or at the moment of effecting the change. A functional configuration audit ensures that functional and performance attributes of a configuration item are achieved, while a physical configuration audit ensures that a configuration item is installed in accordance with the requirements of its detailed design documentation.

The purpose of audits is to ensure that the information stored in the CMDB matches the real configuration of the organisation's IT structure.There are tools allowing automated, centralised remote management of the elements of the hardware and software configuration. The information collected can be used to update the CMDB.

If the scope of the CMDB includes aspects such as documentation, SLAs, personnel, etc. these data need to be backed up with manual audits. Audits must be carried out fairly often, and at least:

  • After implementing a new CMDB.
  • Before and after major infrastructure changes.
  • Whenever there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the information stored in the CMDB is incorrect or incomplete.

Audits should pay special attention to aspects such as:

  • The correct use of the naming conventions in the CI records.
  • Communication with Change Management: information about RFCs, changes made, etc.
  • The CI status is up-to-date.
  • Compliance with defined levels of scope and detail.
  • The match between the structure in the CMDB and the real IT structure.

The five pillars of the ITIL process framework are planning, identification, control, tracking, and auditing. If your desire is to implement configuration management that is in accord with the best practices defined by ITIL, you need to document processes in each of these areas.

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