VMware Inc.

09/26/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/26/2023 07:17

Sustainability Engineering, CMDB, and the Successful Technology Estate

by VMware Senior Director , IT-CTO-Services Brian Danaher

Management of technology assets has become a daunting undertaking for IT personnel. If an organization falls behind in this endeavor, the path to reducing cost, complexity and risk becomes increasingly difficult. Ultimately, knowing where your assets are and who owns them is key to transforming your business, especially given the technology estate has expanded from the traditional data center to the multi-cloud-with digital 'assets' largely existing in the domains of applications, containers and virtual machines.

A configuration management database (CMDB) is a key component in addressing ownership of technology assets. However, the concept and its acronym are often overused, underappreciated, or outright misunderstood. A true CMDB must fulfill numerous requirements encompassing ingestion, verification, lifecycle management, and reporting of technology assets. This creates an accurate and up-to-date system of record (SOR) that is foundational to digital transformation within the enterprise. Coincidentally it is also where sustainable engineering practices should start.

It's not surprising to see IT leaders struggle with asset management. Lack of governance, poor CMDB tooling and competing priorities are among some of the headwinds facing organizations.

There are three areas that IT leaders must zero in on to remedy this issue:

  • Building and maintaining a SOR or CMDB and running strong asset management and governance practices from this foundation
  • Technology estate optimization, including financial operation considerations
  • Sustainability engineering-cleaning up demand, optimizing workloads, incentivizing clean data center use

At VMware IT, we address these challenges in the following ways:

Distributed asset management governance

Enterprise IT departments often embrace multitenancy concepts in modern SaaS applications, but are reluctant to see the advantage of doing the same for traditional on-premises environments. This is a missed opportunity, and no more so than in the case of asset management.

At VMware, we chose a distributed model where we measure the completeness of each organization's actionable ownership data against every technology asset, and transparently report that information via scorecards. In other words, we hold each tenant or custodian accountable for maintaining the accuracy of asset ownership.

Technology estate optimization

Organizations may have several different terms for such efforts including deduplication of tools, technology rationalization, and similar. At the end of the day, global enterprises still face the dual problem of lack of urgency to clean up existing application/infrastructure portfolios compounded by the unceasing demand for new applications. In addition, product managers often overlap-yet differentiate-similar software products from each other. The result is technology sprawl.

The problem does not end there. Increased migration to SaaS offerings using the same old financial control model of an 'all-you-can-eat buffet' on sunk data center costs does not work with pay-as-you-go cloud models. This means developers-trained in technology-now must acquire financial acumen to embed in their engineering principles in day-to-day operations, a new approach combining financial and DevOps known as FinOps.

FinOps is where organizations give developers budgets and boundaries to operate in, yet also grant the freedom and empowerment to make decisions within that boundary. A good example IT organizations may be familiar with is telecom expense management (TEM) platforms. Here, year-on-year savings targets can be set as thresholds that cannot be breached. TEM teams are empowered to use these platform thresholds to add, change, remove, and negotiate telecom contracts accordingly.

At VMware, we incorporated the above principles in our operations, starting with an architectural strategy based on what technology we should buy, hold or sell. This strategy only serves as guidance, to simplify technology decision making. To keep pace with demand, development teams need to apply this guidance to meet their financial targets in real time. A rich feedback loop should exist between strategy and practice-and both should continuously update each other.

Sustainability engineering

VMware IT has made significant gains in this area on a wide variety of fronts. For example, we use VMware Aria Operations (formerly VMware vRealize Operations) to increase our sustainability green score by optimizing demand/supply of infrastructure while running lean with all our workloads. To learn more about this topic, please read ourHow VMware IT Is Increasing Its Sustainability Green Score blog and 2023 VMware ESG report.


Implementing the aforementioned initiatives and a solid CMDB/SOR program is no easy task as they involve a number of moving parts and buy-in from various stakeholders. Take enterprise applications. As cited, a lot of focus is placed on running lean (optimized workloads) and supplying clean (green data centers running on renewable energy). While such practices need urgent attention, alone they are not enough.

Optimizing workloads is not as effective as reducing workload demand in the first place. This is where operating a multi-cloud-capable SOR with accountable custodians and strong governance practices comes into play. If done correctly (with urgency and efficiency) your teams can reduce existing technology estates.

It's hard not to mention artificial intelligence workloads (AI) in this conversation, especially since generative AI workloads will place even more strain on data center energy demand. At the same time, AI can accelerate the optimization of technology estates to meet those challenges. The IT industry needs to integrate SORs with technology strategy and development practices, something that is ripe for AI to copilot and accelerate.

Ultimately a 'DevSecFinOps' culture will need to emerge to embrace this reality.

There's a lot more to this topic than is presented here. That's why we encourage you to contact your account team to schedule a briefing with us. No sales pitch, no marketing. Just straightforward peer conversations revolving around your company's unique requirements.

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