Types of configuration management tools - ITIL Concepts

Configuration management tools basically come in three different flavors:

  1. Tools to discover configurations in the environment,
  2. Tools that are dedicated to creating a Configuration Management Database (CMDB),
  3. Suites of service management tools that include some level of configuration management capability.

Types of configuration management tools

The criteria for choosing tools differ based on which type of tool is being considered.

1. Discovery Tools

The strength of point solutions:

Capability captures the target environment with the highest possible accuracy. Because of their narrow focus, and because the publishers of these tools are often in significant business relationships with the suppliers of the components they discover, point solutions are often the first tools capable of identifying the latest infrastructure components. If your organization lives on the leading edge of technology, this may be a significant factor in the choice of which discovery tools you use.

The weakness of point tools:

Cover only a narrow piece of the overall environment. To get complete coverage across the entire space often requires a hodge-podge of tools and a significant amount of integration effort to get data from all the point solutions into a single integrated CMDB. More tools to purchase and more integration to perform generally leads to a higher cost of initial implementation and ongoing maintenance.

2. Dedicated CMDB Tools

After all the discovery data has been collected, you need a place to store it. That is where a dedicated CMDB product comes into play. Compared with discovery tools, which have been around for a decade or more, most of the players in the dedicated CMDB market are fairly new.

Dedicated CMDB Tools

Multiple discovery tools require multiple interfaces to be built and maintained.

Multiple discovery tools require multiple interfaces to be built and maintained.

A dedicated CMDB can help with discovery tool integration, but will also require new interfaces to other systems management tools.

3. Integrated product suites

The third class of configuration management tools is perhaps the most intriguing.These are the integrated product suites that include configuration management tools with other service management tools. The benefit of an integrated suite is fairly obvious-you don't have to build custom code of any kind to form the important links between change records and configuration items, or between incident records and configuration items. The tools already understand those relationships. Another huge benefit is that one of these suites can form the backbone for a complete systems management effort-you won't have to integrate together a bunch of point solutions and deal with support from separate vendors. This can significantly lower the total cost of implementing a complete ITIL solution.

Integrated product suites

An integrated systems management suite can make integration simpler.


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