ITOM (IT Operations Management), which is operational practices based on event management, monitoring, and CMDB use, becomes increasingly useful in a DevOps world as it forms a foundation for delivering on the promise of DevOps with less risk. DevOps is a set of practices that brings developers together with infrastructure teams to ensure application releases can be moved into a production environment quickly and frequently while mitigating the risk of older release management practices.

DevOps can lower the risk by providing quick releases through automation of the deployment process; however, application releases are not the only changes being made to the operational environment. Network changes, server patching, automated cloud migrations, database maintenance, and other changes all impact the operational environment. Without the capability to control and document these changes, not only can an automated release fail, but also the ability to troubleshoot the reason for the failure could become a time-consuming, manual effort without the right tools and processes. Here’s where ITOM enters the picture.

ITOM creates the foundation for success which DevOps needs, the core being a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) that is both built and maintained through automation of discovery and service-mapping solutions. As the pace of change increases and DevOps takes hold in an organization, particularly one that leverages cloud services, the legacy practice of building and maintaining a CMDB manually is insufficient. The CMDB requires continual updates of core changes through native discovery and mapping tools and through integration to cloud management systems to match the rate of change in a digital practice.

As systems are in operation, software and application requirements drive changes that cause the configuration of the system to drift from its original configuration. Simultaneously, an automated deployment program and application developers are expecting the system’s last-known configuration. If configuration drift is not tracked through discovery and documented in CI (Configuration Item) records, and the team is unaware of the drift, then the deployment can fail, causing an incident that’s difficult to resolve except by reversing the change. With a well-maintained CMDB, this shift can be discovered and prevented by a small adjustment to the automated deployment program. Then, the CMDB must be checked for configuration changes, alerting the DevOps team and then proceeding after they review/approve the continuation as shown below:

While some impacts will be detected before deployment, others will occur during the longer term. ITOM, combined with proactive problem-management activities, can still prevent an impact. Event monitoring and incident management records form a base of historical knowledge, while predictive analytics and proactive problem management can be used to identify and adjust before a business gets impacted. After proactively preventing the issue, problem management is then able to seek the root cause of any recurring errors and address them permanently without firefighting.

A real-world example

Updates to an application a DevOps team manages cause the application to be more valuable to new business units. Demand for the application increases, causing capacity and performance concerns. Monitoring and cloud management systems trap these automatically and react by allocating more server capacity and database space. The problem-management team reviews the recurring alerts, which is then able to track the issue to increased business demand. The team engages the primary business stakeholders to assess the likelihood of continued growth and evaluates the need for permanent capacity changes to be made. Team members are also able to make the business units aware that cloud costs will increase as a result of the increased demand.

As a result of the automation, the business never experienced the potential performance issues or major incidents caused by growth and IT was able to work directly with the business to address concerns and plan upgrades without ever creating a business impact. This proactive capability, which ITOM and automation supports, enabled IT to improve its standing with the business.

Your Partner for Comprehensive IT Management

Virima solutions are easy to use and configure. They also produce useful, actionable reports about your IT environment that can help you identify and resolve challenges before they become disruptive problems. For more examples of how discovery automation and a visualized CMDB can completely change the dynamics of IT management download this white paper or contact Virima to discuss your IT operational needs.

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Mike Bombard

Mike Bombard COO Virima Technologies - Mike joined Virima Technologies (Atlanta, GA) in 2010 and oversees Virima ITAM/ITSM SaaS product sales, marketing and field services organizations. He has been providing solutions to solve complex IT challenges in a variety of industries for over 25 years.