Universal CMDB Review

This product discovers, maps and reports information about our configuration on a daily basis.


Valuable Features

Discovery of infrastructure and automatic mapping of the infrastructure relationships. The discovery uses multiple protocols both actively and passively to get information about networks, hosts, connections, traffic, services, processes, hardware, software, etc. Configuration Manager (CM) provides a dashboard for Policy and View management UCMDB Browser – this is a relatively new feature but it is evolving rapidly – allows the user to look at his configuration data and all of its aspects (impact analysis, change, monitoring KPIs, automation, environment, relationships, etc)

Improvements to My Organization

The UCMDB has illuminated the organization to the fact that our data is managed too manually and distributed in a myriad of spreadsheets. This product discovers, maps and reports information about our configuration on a daily basis. We use it for datacenter migrations and for audit purposes. The company is starting to realize that we really don’t have a source of truth for audit purposes and this product is capable of being that.

Room for Improvement

I think the product is so large and complex that the learning curve is long if you want to understand all aspects of what it can do. You have to jump from manual to manual to accomplish some of the functions, but this is understandable considering the scope of what it attempts to do.

Use of Solution

The product was here before I started working at this company but meandering in support – it was version 8.04 in 2010 – today I am at v10.01. This version is the first to be supported properly starting April 2013.

Deployment Issues

The installation of the application and database servers was straight forward and error free – the probes are quite easy to install as well and the updates/patches/content packs can be automatically delivered to each probe from the application server .

Stability Issues

When I reached over 20 million CIs (Configuration Items), I needed to do some tuning to keep the product performing – but after I enabled the aging mechanism, this number went into the 10-11 million CI mark and it’s behaved quite admirably since.

Scalability Issues

No, you are able to use separate probes to scale out across the enterprise, it is the probe that does the discovery and sends the results back to the application server. We are in the infancy of using this product in product but so far I haven’t seen the need to scale out the application/database servers (the product does support HA but we have disabled it)

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service: We have had no problem with the customer service although we haven’t made too many demands in this area.Technical Support: The initial level of support is OK for problems that are recreatable, but typically I need to escalate to second and third level support. I joined an HP Practitioners forum (held on Tuesdays at 11 am EST) and it is very valuable in keeping up with the current technology and the future roadmap of the product.

Previous Solutions

We continue to use BMC Remedy (Atrium) for problem and change and configuration management since this has been in place for 10 years – everyone continues to blame it for inaccurate data but it is so entrenched in the day to day processes. What the landscape is changing to is – the UCMDB is being positioned to provide a bidirectional link to Remedy so that the live discovery results are pumped back to Remedy to keep this repository up to date.

Initial Setup

The setup is straightforward and becomes a little more complex when you add SSL to the mix.

Implementation Team

Basically we installed in-house and got no vendor support (nor did we ask for any)

ROI

We haven’t quantified anything yet, mostly the advantages are intangible and process-oriented / data quality related.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

We purchased 2750 licenses (full discovery for 2700 hosts (network devices do not need a license)) at a cost of $550,000 ($200 per license). I don’t quite know the day to day cost – but we will probably need to reach 10,000 licenses when complete, so the full investment would be around $2 million (hopefully HP can be a little creative when we get to that point!)

Other Solutions Considered

No other product was evaluated – when I joined the organization, I basically dusted off the v8 of UCMDB and supported it single-handedly to get it to this state.

Other Advice

Start small either horizontally or vertically. For example, horizontally you can implement discovery at the IP address level and complete that before you enable any host discovery . Or vertically, take one organizational unit or datacenter and enable full discovery on that subset of IP addresses . I prefer the latter because you can then demonstrate all of the capabilities of the UCMDB within this subset. The former option allows you to demonstrate what devices are actually out there (sometimes quite an eye opener in itself)
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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