ITIL Configuration Items (CI’s) and The SME Part 1

November 12, 2008

As I wrote in the first post on configuration management here, the Configuration Management process is responsible for ensuring that the IT assets in your environment are properly base lined and documented.

I m going to do this post in two parts as it can get a little complex.

One report stated that 80% of unscheduled IT outages were from changes. And that about 80% of the outage time is just finding out what the change was. And your CI’s are your record of the current state from which any change must be measured.

One of the key challenges for larger organizations is the inventory or discovery of all IT related assets. These larger organizations will use automated discovery tools such as network inventory tools from Centennial Software among many others. These tools will tell you just about everything you want to know about your IT computing assets.

Granularity Level

Depending on your needs, in the small business tech space you may not need to get that fine level of granularity. Defining this granularity level can be more complex than it appears.

As an example, a larger business with multiple clustered database servers, could actually have an individual CI that covers the physical server hardware, the operating system, and the database engine running on each clustered server. The logic being that if one of those CI’s (the full clustered server) fails, replacing the CI is an identically configured server that gets added to the cluster.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, some larger organizations will break down a personal computer asset into many very tiny CI’s, for example, amount of memory, type of disk controller, disk size, BIOS Revision Versions etc. This level of granularity can be valuable as the support organization can know all details about an asset when there is an incident with that asset.

The Granularity Trade Off

The trade off of the level of granularity is complexity, time and cost of maintaining the CI’s within your CMDB (Configuration Management Database)

For the smaller business tech environment, take a realistic look at what information is of value to your environment for each type of IT asset.

I have found that I have a good balance of information with a very high level of granularity in the core, with less granularity as I move to the edge of the network.

The next post will go into the CMDB and more detail on CI’s

If you have implemented CI’s in the SMB space – Please leave a note on the level of granularity you chose!

UPDATE: Part 2 is now here

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2 Responses to “ITIL Configuration Items (CI’s) and The SME Part 1”

  1. elliotross Says:

    John, I appreciate you dropping by!

    Agreed, As I am writing for the SME space, the amount of time vs. the complexity may not be as straight forward as larger organizations with narrower spans of control may utilize.



  2. John Borwick Says:

    Just as you’re saying, my thinking for the CMDB is to be “as general as you can stand.” The more you track, the more you’ve got to keep accurate. And there are impacts to other processes, too–your change manager will have to handle change requests for every network cable change, if the configuration manager’s tracking that change.

    Also FYI we linked to you at

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