The Five-Percent Club
The Five-Percent Club is that elite group of the (less than) 5% of organisations who actually succeed in justifying and implementing a CMDB, or the more modern and equally nutty CMS.
The IT Skeptic has guesstimated the successful implementation of CMDBs across large, medium and small enterprise as about 2-5%. Looking at only the larger sites I've charitably allowed the statistic of 5% although I suspect that a strict interpretation of "successful" "implement" and "CMDB/CMS" would result in a lower number.
I'm delighted to see EMA - the analyst firm that leads in CMDB hyperbole, and Service-Now - the leading SaaS service tool vendor - confirming this number in a recent mailout:
Less than ten percent of enterprise IT organizations effectively utilize the CMDB in support of their IT service management initiatives. After years of work, Progress Energy is one of the rare few.
"Rare few" indeed. Welcome Progress Energy to The Five-Percent Club. I sincerely hope that the cost and effort of design, development, integration and ongoing maintenance is sufficiently outweighed by real cost savings, risk reduction and quality improvements so as to withstand the scrutiny of your company's governors and auditors, and that there were no better uses of the money that were left begging. I'd hate to think that - like so many - you had pursued the CMDB as a technologist's wet dream, without consideration for optimising spending across the project portfolio.
To listen to the vendors and analysts and authors you'd think a CMDB was a given for everyone and any site without one is in some way deficient. This simply isn't the case. It is as much a techno-fantasy as a tool to automatically find root cause or automatically test applications - nice idea but the costs outweigh the benefits for all but the most complex environments. The industry has tried to pimp the concept of CMDB for a decade now and it's getting old, even with the most gullible of customers. Hence the new focus on service catalogue and auto-provisioning as the vendors give up and move to fresh pastures.
Plenty of configuration data exists already in all organisations, including quite a bit of explicit or implicit relationship-mapping i.e. configuration. What is needed is a process and a team to understand and use that data in a polished practiced way to answer real-time questions about service impact from incidents and changes. For the Five-Percent Club, that process gets so complex and demanding they need to automate all of it, i.e. build a CMDB/CMS. The rest of the world needs to let go of this geek-magic-dream and pay attention to improving behaviours (e.g. writing things down, being accountable for changes), optimising process (getting slick at working out the impact implications), and refining simpler tools (e.g. ad-hoc correlating of data across sources)
[Moving up some of my remarks from comments below:
yes, semantics again.
The definition I work by:
A CMDB or a CMS is not simply a collection of data sources. It presents a single view of the service, and especially of the impact on the service of changing or breaking any CI. The key is the storage and management of relationships. If CMS is not a specialist term for that kind of database, if CMS means "any collection of configuration data", why have the term at all? It ceases to have any value. Let's just call it configuration data.
By that definition of a CMS I don't think many are around. incidentally by that definition i believe there isn't a single benefit to CMS that isn't actually delivered by the simpler underlying technologies except service impact analysis.
As for the percentage penetration, beware of the bias i have talked about before. if you spend all your time in the USA and all your time speaking to large organisations and all your time being invited to orgs that are already predisposed to having a CMDB, of course you will get a biased view of the world. My view of the world is equally biased the other way, but my personal estimate is 2%. I allow 5% as a correction to my own bias.
Indeed CMS is the future, as we get better at automating it more cheaply. That doesn't change the fact that right now it is a bad business decision for the vast majority of IT shops. That's my position and I stick to that position.
We do impact analysis badly? Add it to the list of processes that need improving. What is the most pressing need? My experience is that all my clients have more urgent problems than poor configuration information.
Even if impact analysis is a high priority, what is the cost and risk of manually determining impact? How often do we actually get it wrong or late? Can we improve that? How much would technology contribute to that improvement (as compared to improving culture, behaviour, process, and procedures)? There will always be a manual component if only to verify the result. Would CMS be the best choice of technology? Are there simpler tools (e.g. spreadsheets, query analysis tools, knowledge sharing ...) that deliver more bang per buck?]