Integrative IT planning and portfolio management - part 3

Issue 2, 2016

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Alfabet and CMDB systems: Strategy and planning meet operations excellence

In this series of articles, we look at how to derive synergies among IT management tools when planning and managing the IT landscape. In particular, we discuss how Alfabet for Enterprise Architecture (EA) Management and Alfabet for IT Portfolio Management best work with other tools to provide optimal support for your business and IT transformation efforts.

Reduce IT complexity, costs and risks

EA, IT planning and portfolio management tools such as Alfabet are typically the system of record for change planning of the IT environment (“change the company”). The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is the system of record for the current configuration of the IT environment (“run the company”). Both systems are dependent on each other for relevant and accurate information. Alfabet can relate data about applications and their business context, technologies, standards and planned changes to the CMDB so that the CMDB has a better understanding of the change impact on business, better control of IT standards and a basis for change operationalization. By relating data from the CMDB on IT deployments and locations, performance metrics (for example, incidents and downtime) and actual changes to Alfabet, Alfabet has a better understanding of change impact on deployed IT as well as intelligence for portfolio analysis and assurance that deployed IT follows strategy. Generally, data and process quality are improved.

Such integration provides real benefits in the area of technology and application governance by ensuring that IT standards that are defined are also enforced. This reduces IT complexity, costs and risks. The potential cost reductions are very high and play a significant role in moving IT spend from keep-the-lights-on to transform-the-business.

Standards enforcement is not the only benefit. By making the wealth of information in a CMDB on the state of IT available to Alfabet, integration supports choosing the right technologies and applications for the business. Risky technologies and application dependencies become transparent leading to their elimination from the portfolio. Thus, IT risks are reduced and business risk along with it.

There are various ways to integrate Alfabet with a CMDB depending on the use case. Here are a few examples.

Business continuity management

The information interchange between Alfabet and a CMDB can improve risk management capabilities. Location and deployment information from the CMDB can be used to support rules-based application and technology risk assessment. Where an application is deployed can determine whether it needs to have a high risk profile or not. Alfabet provides the risk profile of the application, answering questions such as “Does the application support critical processes?” or “Is the application operating on sensitive data?” Performance metrics from the CMDB can improve the quality of risk assessment on an application or technology. With better intelligence on the risk profile and performance of a certain application or technology, IT planners can instigate changes to mitigate risks and communicate these to the CMDB which records the change.

Figure 1: The integration of Alfabet and a CMDB/IT Service Management (ITSM) system can help ensure business continuity.

Technology approval

In this example, a company could implement a process for approving requests from projects to use new technologies. Such a process transverses both Alfabet and the CMDB to confirm the existence or non-existence of a requested technology and ensure that projects use only approved technologies. The direct link between the two products streamlines the process and makes it transparent for all stakeholders as well as ensures good collaboration between projects, operations, EA and IT planning.

Figure 2: This integration scenario demonstrates how integration of Alfabet with a CMDB/ITSM system can be used to automate the process of technology approval.

Application retirement

Alfabet and the CMDB can be integrated in a process for application retirement, with Alfabet being used to make the plans to retire an application and monitor its life cycle. At a specific point in time, Alfabet submits a service request for the retirement of the application, which is executed by the CMDB and the retirement (or non-retirement) communicated to Alfabet. Thus, operations staff and other stakeholders are informed in a timely manner, changes can be planned and coordinated, and the plan confirmed as to whether it reflects reality or not.

Figure 3: Integration between Alfabet and a CMDB/ITSM system can ensure that applications are retired according to plan or that the plan is changed if an application can’t be retired as planned.


By integrating the IT operations processes managed within the CMDB and the IT governance processes managed within Alfabet, silos within IT are broken down and processes improved. This leads to better results from IT and to improved relationships between IT departments.

Integration of Alfabet with a CMDB/ITSM system means:

  • Service and delivery are aligned to strategy and planning
  • Less errors due to transparency across IT silos
  • Collaboration and IT processes are more efficient
  • Data with which IT is managed is more reliable
  • Less risk and more value

Alfabet supports data exchange with IT operations solutions such as HP® UCMDB, HP® Asset Manager, BMC Remedy®, BMC Atrium®, IBM® Tivoli® ITSM and Microsoft® Operations Framework.

Next in the series

Easing maintenance of the technology portfolio—stay tuned for how Alfabet integrates with external IT catalogs in the next issue of TECHniques.