How to Use Application Dependency Mapping to Create Business Service Maps 

How to Use Application Dependency Mapping to Create Business Service Maps 

Information technology underpins business operations and is increasingly important to companies’ success. Yet, IT complexity is skyrocketing. As a result, IT teams are using automated processes to manage change more efficiently and solve problems more quickly. Unfortunately, many teams still lack insight into how IT resources support key business services and functions. 

This blog is intended to help IT teams understand the nuances of application dependency mapping (ADM) and how evolving these capabilities can help them create business service maps and improve IT operational processes. 

Defining Application Dependency and Business Service Mapping 

Application dependency mapping (ADM) is the process of discovering all upstream and downstream relationships an organization’s applications have. 

While this seems straightforward, it is anything but. That’s because ADM means different things to different people based on context. We believe that there are multiple levels of ADM:

  • Level 1: Relying on manual efforts: Teams may use open-source tools or Excel spreadsheets and manual processes to collect and map application relationships. This might mean tying a business application to a device, software solution, or service. However, with lagging processes, this data will always be outdated.

  • Level 2: Automating traffic identification: Another option is for teams to leverage an ADM tool to identify NetStat and service communication data to build relationships between devices and their inbound and outbound traffic. This is what most vendor ADM solutions can do.

  • Level 3: Fingerprinting services: Teams seeking deeper insights can harness advanced ADM to fingerprint some of their companies’ services and determine if they support infrastructure applications, such as IIS, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL databases and Apache and Apache Tomcat web servers. This is what Device42, a next-generation configuration management database (CMDB) and dependency mapping solution, delivers for its clients.

  • Level 4: Gaining granular insights: Device42 also enables users to go a step further and identify dependencies across on-prem and cloud platforms, such as load balancers, Kubernetes clusters, and cloud resources, such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

  • Level 5: Automating application groups: Device42 offers additional automation capabilities, including filters, tagging, and templates, so that users can leverage application groups to build consumable views and facilitate the process of representing their business applications.

Representative Application Dependency Map 

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Defining and Creating Business Service Maps  

Business service mapping means capturing all configuration items (CIs) required to show the interdependencies of all the IT resources that are leveraged to support a particular business service. Usually, a business service will rely heavily on a key application. As a result, visually depicting which IT resources the application relies on to function enables teams to improve service delivery, troubleshooting, and more. 

So, how can teams create a business service map? 

With Device42, users can automate the creation of a business service map by leveraging advanced ADM capabilities, including fingerprinting, cross-platform dependency identification, and application groups, to develop a consumable view of all the interdependencies of an application service. They can then add other critical information, such as personnel and other business metadata, to create an extremely robust representation of all stakeholders and CIs that are part of this business application or service.

Exploiting Device42’s next-generation ADM capabilities to build these views is obviously a lot faster than using manual processes or low-level ADM capabilities, enabling teams to focus on other strategic work. 

Example of a Representative Business Service Map 

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Business service maps can be leveraged to accomplish use case goals, such as:

  • Providing an executive view into consumption – Business service maps tie IT devices to the business applications and services they support. Executives gain visualizations and reporting that enable them to make strategic decisions, such as increasing IT investments to support business growth or ending certain services due to technical debut or under-use. 

  • Strengthening incident management – Business service maps give IT service management (ITSM) teams critical service data to communicate with key stakeholders, troubleshoot processes, and shorten recovery timeframes. Visualizations and data integrate with major ITSM platforms such as Jira Service Management, Freshworks, and ServiceNow, speeding mean time to resolution.

  • Reducing costs or designing IT services – Business service maps provide stakeholders with a lens into current applications and infrastructure to see what can be repurposed to develop new or updated services. Since IT teams seek ways to reduce costs, these service maps can help them ensure existing applications are fully utilized or manage out those that aren’t. 

  • Planning changes – Business service maps give IT teams a valuable reference point on how proposed changes could create new risks or impact key services. With this data, IT teams can avoid unintended consequences, such as taking key services down with misunderstood changes and configurations. 
  • Improving information security – Business service maps can also help teams identify significant service risks, such as information security gaps and vulnerabilities, and plan controls. For example, a team could review traffic to all applications to identify any unauthorized access and then immediately block it. 

Organizations Need Business Service Maps to Protect Digital Services

As digitization increases, organizations are managing more services than ever. 

Developing real-time business maps can help IT teams and key stakeholders plan, manage, update, and protect the services that enable business growth and operations. With such maps, teams can upgrade core capabilities while keeping services up and running and meeting demanding service-level agreements.

Want more guidance on when and how to develop a business service map?

Read our CMDB best practice guide

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Rock Johnston
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