IoT Configuration Management - 3 Crucial Questions

Mike Alley, Service Management Principal, Logicalis US, looks at the burning need for a configuration management framework in the face of 21 billion IoT "things'.

From weighing scales and robotics in manufacturing plants to smart security, smart buildings and smart transportation initiatives, IT leaders in nearly every industrial vertical market will soon be inundated with the management of both the data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices as well as the management of the devices themselves.

Of the nearly 21 billion connected “things” Gartner predicts will be in use by 2020, 7.6 billion of those will be a combination of industrial-based cross-industry and vertical market units, each of which requires the same lifecycle management as any other IT equipment. This can be an overwhelming realisation for CIOs who don’t have an adequate configuration management strategy for their current IT environments, the foundation upon which all future digital strategies will be built.

IoT Configuration

If you have the right framework in place, your organisation can evolve as its digital transformation takes shape. But you can’t take full advantage of the Internet of Things – or the developing digital age – without a strong overall service management strategy which includes configuration management as a key component. While configuration management is one of the top ITIL processes and people talk a lot about it, it is both the least implemented and perhaps the most foundational. So, if you don’t get configuration management right, you can’t build what you need to create a true digital strategy on top of it.

What is Configuration Management?

First, let’s discuss what configuration management is all about. Configuration management is the process by which IT tracks and manages each configuration item (CI) within that organisation – from individual pieces of the IT infrastructure such as servers or network routers to IT services or policies – throughout that CI’s lifecycle, acquisition to disposal.

In the operational phase, this includes designing and implementing processes for continuously gathering data and updating the configuration management database (CMDB) with each CI’s current status – both in-house and cloud-based – as well as the relationships it has with other CIs and the impact each device has on key business processes.

Many IT professionals have mistakenly developed the idea that creating this kind of configuration management strategy is too difficult, time consuming and costly. But, in the long run, not having one will have an even higher cost as organisations miss out on the emergence of the next digital age and the competitive benefits it has to offer.

3 Questions

If you’re not sure if your configuration management strategy is ready for the IoT and your organisation’s burgeoning digital transformation, ask yourself the following three tell-tale questions.

And if you don’t have a satisfactory answer, you need to speak with someone:

  1. Who in your organisation is responsible for configuration management?
    It’s a simple question – and either there’s a quick answer or there isn’t. If you cannot identify who holds this responsibility in your organisation, you’re not ready for a true digital transformation – and the next two questions are not worth asking.
  2. Do you have a complete list of your organisation’s configuration items – including those in the cloud?
    The basis of configuration management is having and maintaining an accurate and complete list of all CIs that work together to build IT services and meet business needs. Having a complete list of CIs gives you the ability to assess risk for change management or prioritize remedies in the event of an outage. Without that list, IT as a whole is solely dependent on the knowledge held precariously in the heads of a handful of experienced IT team members.
  3. Do you feel confident you can manage the influx of IoT devices your organisation will need to fully embrace the digital age over the next five years?
    As the whole concept of “digital” becomes increasingly more important, organisations will either embrace the IoT and its associated CI infrastructure or they won’t remain competitive – it’s that basic. If you ask this question and the answer is no, there’s a definite crack in your organisation’s IT foundation.

Want to learn more? Explore the benefits and challenges of ITSM as well as key implementation strategies in this brief video.

Next, discover the ways ITSM can help you provide a strategic vision and roadmap for your organisation’s digital transformation. 

Finally, learn why ITSM isn’t just for IT anymore:

Tags Digital Transformation, Strategy, internet of things, IoT, ITSM, Internet of Things