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What Is Automated Discovery and Dependency Mapping (DDM) and Why Do You Need It?

What Is Automated Discovery and Dependency Mapping (DDM) and Why Do You Need It?
March 18, 2022 • Joe Doyle, Director of EMEA Sales Engineering

In a perfect world, your Configuration Management Database (CMDB) acts as the single source of truth for all your IT device inventory and the relationships between those devices. However, maintaining accuracy is easier said than done. That’s because the traditional method for provisioning and maintaining a CMDB is complex, unwieldy, and outdated the second it's updated.

To keep up with the needs of a modern CMDB, an automated discovery and dependency mapping (DDM) solution is a must. Here’s what you need to know.

What Does Automated DDM Do?

An automated DDM solution does exactly what its name conveys: it automatically discovers your infrastructure and the dependencies throughout your hybrid environment, such as hypervisors, VMs, servers, network elements, storage platforms, and other assets. It discovers the relationships and links between these entities, as well as the dependencies that your applications have on your infrastructure. From there, a DDM solution builds a clear, interconnected picture of the many components across your key applications and business services, and their respective systems.

For example, take an application that uses 20 different services running on 10 different servers, and it depends on certain hypervisors, network switches, load balancers, and storage platforms to work. DDM provides you the visibility into these relationships that is otherwise difficult to see.

An enterprise can use this inventory of devices, services, and their relationships to identify opportunities to improve service, while gaining a better understanding of the ripple effect and potential negative outcomes that changing one entity could have on multiple business services (think revenue and reputation).

In the end, a DDM solution will provide application-specific topology visualizations, making it easy to rapidly perform impact analysis for change management and efficiently manage incidents.

Why is automated DDM necessary?

The modern enterprise has so many physical and virtual assets, and makes changes so often, that manually maintaining an accurate CMDB becomes unattainable. Ubiquitous virtualization further exacerbates the problem. This results in an incomplete or inaccurate picture that can lead to:

  • A lack of trust: Once the CMDB gets a reputation for being inaccurate or consistently out-of-date, teams won’t trust the data or use it to make decisions, reducing the ROI of your CMDB investment. DDM addresses this issue and helps maximize your CMDB investment.
  • Slower action: If a team can't trust the CMDB, they’ll have to find the answers they need or verify the CMDB’s data on their own, increasing their response time.
  • Wasted time and productivity: Every minute spent manually verifying the CMDB is a minute that a highly-paid IT professional can’t perform higher-value work for the enterprise.
  • More human errors: IT teams that have to supplement their CMDB with manual asset lists or dependency maps risk missing critical items or mislabeling entities, making it impossible to fully trust the CMDB.
  • Overwhelmed staff: The rise of virtualized environments, cloud, IoT, and other dynamic entities means that thousands of new assets and dependencies can be created every day, making it impossible to manually keep up.

An automated DDM solution gives you the complete infrastructure visibility you need to ensure your CMDB reflects your real life environment so you can fix issues faster instead of verifying data. By eliminating uncertainty about your IT asset inventory and its relationships, you can quickly identify the root cause of performance issues or outages while ensuring preventive maintenance won’t negatively impact a critical application or process.

What to look for in an automated DDM solution

The right automated DDM solution provides complete visibility into your entire IT environment and how it is all connected so you can make more intelligent decisions at scale. Here’s what to look for:

  • Agentless auto-discovery of infrastructure and applications: Your DDM should be able to quickly discover all compute, network, and storage entities across your IT environment without deploying and managing performance-sapping agents across your devices. Organizations today struggle to manage their existing agents as it is, so adding more complexity to their operations is a showstopper.
  • Dynamic mapping: Your DDM should be able to track dynamic, multi-layer relationships as they evolve so you can always operate with up-to-date information.
  • Auto-updated CMDB: Your DDM should ensure your CMDB is accurate and always reflects the reality of your IT environment. An automated DDM solution will push discovery and dependency data in near real-time to your preferred ITSM platform, whether ServiceNow, Cherwell, or others, including homegrown systems.

Meet Resolve Insights

As a leading automated discovery and dependency mapping solution, Resolve Insights simplifies incident and change management of the largest, dynamic multi-vendor, multi-domain environments, automatically and continuously.

To learn about emerging DDM technologies and what to consider for a best-of-breed solution, check out our webcast replay, Achieve an Always Accurate and Actionable CMDB with Best-of-Breed Discovery & Dependency Mapping.

Joe Doyle

About the Author, Joe Doyle:

Joe Doyle has supported every aspect of the software sales lifecycle, as well as architecting and delivering largescale, hands-on implementations, managing and leading project delivery, and demoing to both technical and C-Level audiences. Throughout his 20-year career Joe has developed an extensive technical skillset across network, DB, integration, programming/scripting, automation, web services, and more.

Having worked with hundreds of customers and prospects from a variety of vertical markets, Joe has a deep understanding of the OSS/BSS world, as well as ITSM, Automation, and more importantly...how all these things fit together.

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