3 Approaches to Building Your CMS - Page 1

Jul 8, 2011

Martin Likier

A fully operationally and mature configuration management system (CMS) can be a tremendous help to your organization’s support and service delivery departments. Among its many benefits, your organization will be able to manage and assess risk; isolate the source and root cause of problems quicker; and gain a deeper understanding of the impact of service outages.

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However, there are many challenges in bringing a CMS to life. One of the first challenges lies with an understanding of where you should start. It is important to understand the pros and cons of each possible approach to building a CMS. By selecting the best approach, you can streamline your organization’s adoption and help ensure the best return on investment.

Where to begin

There are three ways you can start a CMS project:

The strategic value approach - Organizations may choose to start with this way when they believe their business requirements and priorities are well understood, documented and have not changed over a long period of time.

One way to use this approach is to document business and technical services that are delivered in a service catalog. With defined services, relationships and compositions can be determined and documented in the CMS. Once completed, this service information can be used to align with the business and set the foundation for the structure of the CMS.

Some of the pros and cons of this approach include:


  • Allows for defining critical and non-critical business, information technology (IT) and technical services to establish appropriate priorities;
  • Starts to align IT with desired business outcomes; and
  • Creates a mechanism to begin the process of managing customer expectations.


  • This is a service approach that takes additional time to complete;
  • It can't take advantage of any baseline data (undocumented applications and infrastructure information);
  • This is a complex approach that requires due diligence to understand all the service relationships; and
  • It can't take advantage of cascading relationships (no foundational information is available).

The functionally focused approach - Companies may choose to use this approach when they have already procured tools and technology that aid in application discovery and mapping of service and infrastructure relationships.

These tools are used to collect and provide an inventory of applications and their relationships to use in the definition of services. Once the initial inventory is complete, applications can be mapped to services, including the composition of each service.

This approach establishes the foundation for documenting and defining the services since the relationships are the key component collected during discovery. Similar to the strategic value approach, a technical service catalog can be created using the application relationship information.

Some of the pros and cons of this approach include:


  • Creates a comprehensive list of applications and their relationships;
  • Allows for grouping of the applications for eventual creation of a technical service catalog;
  • Provides detailed information on each application; and
  • Foundational for enabling business alignment and the eventual definition and grouping into business services.
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