Mapping technical dependencies in your IT environment

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Data relationships

Without a doubt, IT environments are complex. With cloud services, 3rd party components and employees bringing their own devices (BYOD) to work, it can be sometimes difficult to determine what you have, where they are located and how the different pieces of your IT puzzle fit together. With digitally enabled business processes and users relying on technology for almost every facet of their day-to-day work, it is essential your IT staff members understand how all of it works. This is where IT asset management can help.

One of the most difficult part of managing modern IT environments is dependency and relationship mapping. Discovery tools do quite a good job of identifying lists of assets and components, but don’t always capture the relationship data to identify each asset’s technical and business context. That requires IT asset management. Understanding context is important for assessing the impacts when components break and systems malfunction, implementing changes safely/effectively and diagnosing the root cause of problems.

There are 3 layers of dependencies within your IT environment you must capture, manage and leverage for decision making. Understanding each of them and managing their relationships will help your IT staff better support your company’s users and business processes.

Infrastructure dependencies

IT organizations are most familiar with this set of dependencies, and most comfortable managing. IT services are comprised of component building blocks that are assembled to provide the resources, capacity and capabilities users consume. Software runs on servers and is also connected to storage and utilizes processing. Transactions move on networks comprised of centralized and distributed components. Cloud services run in operating environments (which 3rd parties may manage) and rely on subscriptions to provide access to resources.

Infrastructure dependencies are typically managed as a part of your company’s core configuration data and represent the technology relationships among components.

Data relationships

Information is an equally important part of modern IT as technology components. Data may be stored within a system, integrated across multiple systems, replicated to data warehouses/repositories or transformed through ETL processes. Data often exists in multiple places – being created in a source system, moved into transactional systems, aggregated into systems of record and distilled into systems of insight. Data and information are assets with owners, a useful life span and an intended use.

Understanding the operational data in your organization and how the various pieces of data fit together into the big picture are essential to managing these assets effectively and using them to create business value.

The relationships between data elements and the different copies of data that exist in your IT environment (and broader cloud ecosystem) are the source of valuable insights your company leaders can use to improve operations, profitability and competitiveness.

While discovery tools help you identify individual assets and places where data might be stored within your environment, you need solid IT Asset Management capabilities to map the data-related relationships between your systems.

Business process workflows

Individuals and groups within your organization (and broader customer and supplier ecosystems) use information and technology tools to enable productivity and facilitate business processes. Two sets of data relationships are needed to understand the business context of your IT systems.

First, are the data relationships among business process activities, which can tell you how the business operates. Second, are the dependency relationships between the business processes and the technology and data components on which they rely. Together, these two sets of relationships provide insights into the context of your IT systems to help you understand the impact of changes, events and issues.

Managing relationships in your IT environment requires more than discovery capabilities. You need a means of collecting the lists of assets (discovery), a means of mapping and managing the data relationships across all three layers of dependencies (IT Asset Management), the ability to visualize and traverse the web of relationships, and the ability to consume this information in the context of your ITSM processes (integrated ITSM tools).

Virima’s IT Asset Management solutions are designed to help you to do this with an affordable solution that provides you with the tools and insights your IT organization needs to be successful. Learn more about how our discovery and visualization capabilities unlock value for IT.

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