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CMDBs: An IT Goldmine?


A 21ST century gold rush Is poised to sweep across the enterprise landscape. The vendors' promise: Configuration management databases will provide a single source of truth for IT infrastructures. No longer will compartmentalized functions blind us to the complexity that leads to outages of critical business services. Instead, CMDBs will provide a unified view of network assets and their configurations, map device and application dependencies, and let us manage services, not machines. All this should yield increased productivity, less downtime, automation of routine tasks and a platform for a brave new generation of network and systems management.

Problem is, gold rushes are driven by greed. Many vendors that profess to have customers' best interests at heart will enrich themselves by holding us hostage with their "integrated" CMDB platforms. Sure, software companies are in business to make money, and lock-in is a time-tested method for generating repeat sales. That doesn't mean we have to like it.

Moreover, most evangelizers gloss over the fact that any IT organization setting up camp around a CMDB will face a host of difficulties. Atop the list is the pain of federating disparate IT data repositories and reconciling information stored in incompatible schemas. Vendors, of course, have a solution: Buy more software--in this case, a management suite architected around the CMDB.

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