ITIL Configuration Items (CI’s) and The SME Part 2

November 27, 2008

In the first post on CI’s (Configuration Items)  I mentioned that you must give some thought to how granular you want your CI’s to be. I broke this post into two parts because it is complex and a definite information overload.

Because the more granular you choose your CI’s to be, the more complex managing the environment becomes.

The degree of detail used to describe each CI and its relationships to other CI’s can grow very quickly.

Not An Inventory

Configuration Management is not simply an inventory that you have of hardware and software.

An example I have used on this blog is receiving e-mail on your mobile device. To receive that e-mail many servers, devices, routers etc all must work together to ensure it works.

I also mentioned that I have used less granularity at edge of the network, with more towards the core. This is usually backwards for a larger organization.


In a larger organization, having very granular details on all workstations and laptops (the edge) can pay dividends several ways as your management tools can identify;

* exact hardware and software specifications – ie you are upgrading to a new program version, which machines are too old or don’t have enough RAM for the new version?

* Support teams have the ability to reduce troubleshooting time (and cost) when calls reach the service desk

So in these scenario’s we have identified issues or solved problems without having to physically visit or touch the device.

As I have worked with strong technology focused organizations, I don’t worry to much about personal computers or notebooks. (software developers change them just about every day as it is!)

And something as simple as a software developer installing an open source piece of software code, changes your CI.

So for these devices I keep it simple, I document my asset number (inexpensive asset tags can be obtained, one example is here), make, model, serial number, support agreements, contracts etc.

The core on the other hand, are the servers, routers, firewalls and other plumbing devices of the network.

On those devices I maintain a very high level of granularity. This lets me answer any detailed question regarding the configuration, specification or capability of these devices.


Large organizations can purchase tools and have full relational database systems that provide this map of all CI’s and the relationships among them.

I was lucky enough to have one of those tools at a previous employer (we made it!) but I have used simple tools such as Microsoft Sharepoint to good effect.

They key takeaway is to define the level that makes sense for your organization.

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