CMDB service maps are visual depictions of hierarchical relationships among business services (sometimes also major applications) and their supporting Configuration Items (CIs). Because service maps can provide an instant bird’s eye view of critical dependencies and relationships, their utility lies in planning for change or responding to outages.
While this is a big improvement over having to create a mental picture from thousands or even millions of CI’s contained within the CMDB, service map viewers still have to apply a great deal of interpretation and research to complete the task of change-related risk management and incident resolution. That’s where ViVID comes in.
Virima Visual Impact Display (ViVIDTM) provides CMDB users with an added layer of visual depictions to the service maps that help eliminate much of the guesswork and additional research still required with standard service maps. While a map may get you to your desired destination, ViVID provides turn-by-turn instructions to get you there faster and with much less effort. Roles such as change managers and incident responders are able to perform risk, root-cause, and impact analysis much faster with ViVID helping ensure longer MTBF – Mean Time Between Failure – and faster MTTR – Mean Time To Repair.
The ViVID Difference
Automated Infrastructure and Dependency Mapping
The power of ViVID starts with Virima’s automated Discovery and Service Mapping capabilities which eliminate 90% of effort required with traditional service mapping technology. Virima Discovery feeds the CMDB with time-of-scan and historical data points which are then used to produce dynamic relationships and dependencies between infrastructure components, applications and services. Discovery ensures that the CMDB, CI’s, and their relationships are kept current so the data can be trusted.
Dynamic Service Maps
Next comes all of the map view options. ViVID offers CMDB users dynamic views of infrastructure relationships, application dependency mapping (ADM), communication flows, network and storage topology and so much more. Users are able to filter, sort, save and share views that provide precisely the visual depiction of data they need to be more effective in their job. Any change to the CMDB data, whether automatically discovered or manually generated, is immediately reflected in the ViVID Service Maps, keeping your team up-to-date with the latest CI and relationship information in order to make timely and effective decisions. ViVID Service Maps work with on-premise, cloud-based and hybrid services as well. Be it an application, website, or a combination of the two, the service can be mapped in real-time using ViVID Maps.
ITSM and Event Management Integration
What really makes the ViVID difference is Virima’s integration with event management alerts and ITSM functions. This allows critical and relevant information to be overlaid onto the service maps. Things like recently completed changes and open incidents are automatically displayed so the question of “what changed” is easily answered. Just imagine how this would make planning for your next big change easier or how ViVID would have helped you recover from the last P1 outage sooner.
Supported event management platforms include Solarwinds, Nagios and Logic Monitor. ITSM integrations of course include Virima and also other major ITSM providers – ServiceNow, Cherwell, Ivanti and very soon Jira. The breadth of Virima integrations mean that for many, there’s no need to replace what is used today. Virima and ViVID will just make it better.
The ViVID Effect
So now that you have the basics of what ViVID does let’s run through some examples of how it can make a difference in many job functions including change managers, incident responders, solution architects and application developers.
Reduce risk of change
Change happens, that’s a given, and the pressure on IT to support evolving business needs has never been greater. However, too many organizations have learned the hard way that a rush to change can have dire consequences. The push in many organisations over the past decade has been towards maturing the change management processes in order to avoid these unforced errors. The business may not always appreciate the speed in which some changes occur but the old racing adage- slow is smooth and smooth is fast- generally applies to IT as well. Just remember the other adage- keep up or die- also applies.
ViVID helps balance the smooth vs keep up equation. When a change is introduced or proposed for a particular CI, ViVID shows the potentially impacted services. This helps establish the business criticality when planning down time or should something go wrong. Further, it also helps your team notify the stakeholders that need to be informed so they can plan accordingly. Change planners will also have visibility into any other scheduled changes that could introduce additional risk or be required to be completed first.
Not necessarily ViVID related but worth mentioning, Virima Discovery will also help ensure configuration changes were done as approved and documented properly in the CMDB.
As just discussed, ViVID helps take risk out of making changes. Since over 80% of unplanned downtime is attributed to intentional changes, significantly reducing bad changes from ever happening will go a long way to increase mean time between failures (MBTF). ViVID helps improve up time in other ways as well. Application owners and network architects can leverage ViVID service maps to identify weak links in a business service, such as a non-fault tolerant design, old versions of software, or out-of-support critical components. Readily available access to this kind of information propels the decisions and actions needed to make sure faults within the underlying infrastructure don’t bring critical business services down as well.
More efficient Incident management
Then there is the value of displaying open incidents on service-supporting CI’s or the business service itself. Consider a common scenario where a system monitoring tool alerts to a hardware issue, such as excessive CPU or RAM utilization on a server. Generally that alert gets sent to an individual or team to assess the criticality of the event (based on importance of the server) and determine the appropriate course of action. If it’s a large IT shop that usually means the initial responder logs an incident which then gets assigned to another department queue to handle. Already there has been too much reliance on manual processes that increases the chances that very soon users will start to notice a degradation on the service or services that server supports.
Now imagine a scenario where the initial alert is automatically tied to the correct CMDB CI and an incident with rule-based priorities and assignments is created and displayed on a ViVID service map. Now anyone responding to the alert-generated incident can perform a rapid assessment of what impact the CPU issue could have on the business before anyone starts to notice any disruption.
(Also read, “Five ways to effectively improve incident management“)
Unfortunately, even with much preparation and planning and automated alerting and incident management, sometimes things still go really wrong, really fast. Maybe it was a significant hardware failure to a critical asset or an unapproved change (we’re not judging just recognizing reality). The fact is you’ve got a P1 situation and users are feeling the pain.
Depending on the demand for the service and the significance of disruption, it could require an all-hands response to resolve. Perhaps multiple services are down as a result of whatever just occurred. That’s going to make it even tougher to diagnose the root cause. The first question always asked is what changed? There must be a common link to all service disruptions being reported but what is it? Was it something out of our control (critical failure) or was it an unforced error (we screwed up)?
A standard service map might not be of little help here too. As stated in the opening paragraph, a standard service map is much like a road map. Sure it connects the points you want to drive to but it still requires a lot of pre-planning and is hard to follow while driving. You couldn’t always count your co-pilot for good turn-by-turn instructions either (you might need a little bit of gray on the sides to remember, just saying). You eventually got there but not always on-time or on friendly terms with your company.
A ViVID service map on the other hand can quickly help answer the “what changed” and “what does one have to do with the other” questions. When tightly integrated with event management and ITSM, Virima’s ViVID service maps show open incidents tied to the underlying infrastructure components. So too would any recently completed or planned changes on those components. Is the common thread to all of the felt disruptions a hardware failure or did another shared service go down? Could both be true? Whatever the cause, ViVID can provide the necessary information to help accelerate the recovery.
Virima ensures that you can communicate with and manage all critical elements of your IT estate, wherever they reside. Virima is here to help. To get started, contact us today to schedule a demo and explore the possibilities!