Case Study: HEROLD plans its IT maintenance process with i-doit
The client: HEROLD Business Data
HEROLD uses the free IT documentation and configuration database (CMDB) i-doit since January 2011 for the planning of maintenance processes in IT. Currently, about 1,500 objects are in the system. Joerg Weis, Manager of Operations Management at Herold, praised the flexibility and the pricing model of the solution from Duesseldorf, Germany.
HEROLD Business Data GmbH, based in Moedling near Vienna, is the Yellow Pages market leader in Austria. With www.herold.at the provider operates the largest service portal in Austria. The product range of the group includes services such as SEM (search engine marketing) and SEO (search engine optimization), realized by its subsidiary ClearSense. Additionally various verticals such as the holiday portal “urlauburlaub” or recommendation portal “tupelo” are offered.
As with so many other companies the number of assets to be managed by Herold had significantly increased. Then there was the desire to centrally store all infrastructure information, in order to optimize the maintenance and search. Paper folders or excel lists should be made history as quickly as possible.
Solution & time frame:
In the middle of 2010 Herold started the evaluation of some products from the Open Source CMDB- and the proprietary area. Weis said: "it was certain that it must be a browser-enabled application, that all assets be easy to administer and should comply with the TCO." Here the killer criterion, according to Weis, was the complexity of the solution. Since Herold follows the approach 'less is more', the solution had to be as lean and flexible, that the IT was able to cater for a small volume and increase the level of detail as needed.
According to Weis the decision to use i-doit was quickly made: "The solution in its approach is open source. Consequently, we can pay for support as a user, but are not obliged to. The openness and flexibility of i-doit just makes the product more attractive to smaller businesses than many competing products, especially those from the proprietary sector. " Herold had a comparison through actual testing of BMC, another CMDB. But this product proved too cumbersome, too expensive and could not even really be used independently of an operating system. The solution was indeed a browser interface, but the need of a Microsoft Silverlight browser extension, which allows for the execution of rich Internet applications – was simply a faulty design according to Weis.
By the end of 2010, after Herold-IT decided upon i-doit, its infrastructure objects were transferred to their new CMDB; initially about 1,400 items, with a steadily rising amount. Here the team went ahead in small steps to keep the initial efforts as low as possible. The first step included the networks, locations and server rooms, and software licenses were listed. Weis advises: "Every step should be carefully considered. If you go into too much detail, a CMDB can quickly become far too complex and maintenance can prove to be too intensive." Early 2011 the new CMDB under i-doit went live. Since then the solution served reliably in providing reports about Software- and Systems Maintenance, even those who are already budgetized for 2012 and therefore relevant now. The current procedure for the objects, especially the new infrastructure components, requires all new items to land in the CMDB.
According to Joerg Weis deciding on i-doit was absolutely spot on: "i-doit provides exactly the level of support that we desire. The solution is not excessive and not expensive, but flexible and affordable." In addition, i-doit provider, synetics, has proven to be very efficient and flexible. The tool is continually being developed further and not constantly being overloaded with new features to justify the price. Weis expects overall immense time savings in locating information on all relevant operating assets. Furthermore, Herold-IT will obtain information about expiring maintenance contracts of all kind from the reports and gather valuable benefits in terms of budget planning. Last but not least, the transition from previously very commonly used Excel spreadsheets collaborating with client support and system support account for relief and consistency.
Joerg Weis summarizes: "Even after initial skepticism amongst the support staff, the visible benefit has now come to light, that it is always good what you own."
Currently (this summer), the Weis-Team has gone live with the internal interface to the SAP system. This consequently provides the IT with the possibility to link the two systems via the serial number in i-doit and SAP. Now the accounting department can easily see, for example, whether an asset that is already depreciated for accounting purposes, still is in use or not. Meanwhile, the CMDB is continued to be filled, so that it cannot be excluded, according to Weis. In addition to the standard reports better level advanced reporting features in i-doit will be necessary.
Apart from a good product itself, a good CMDB strategy is urgently required, according to Weis. Thus, the support team should be aware of exactly what you want to know later in the IT operations of the concrete CMDB. "The so-called all-in-one solution does not exist," says Weis and points out: "the more complex the information in the CMDB is, the higher the maintenance. Right here is the "less is more" approach is valid. Users should therefore start "top down", not "bottom up", as often preferred by technicians.
- i-doit version 0.9.9-4
- currently around 1,400 items stored
- medium-term objective: doubling of the items
- a standard subscription is in use.
Published in September 2011
Author: Konrad Buck
Background: The ITIL®-compliant open source solution for IT documentation, i-doit, has been on the market since late 2004. In the meantime the product has established itself in many companies. Since 2009 synetics positions i doit as base product for "Smart ITSM". For this purpose there are interfaces solutions in the areas of network monitoring (Nagios ®), the helpdesk system Request Tracker (RT), various inventory tools (hInventory, OCS), or by syslog to the logging functions.
Contact: Joachim Winkler