CMDB, or Configuration Management Database, is one of the most fundamental components of the Configuration Management process of the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework.
What is CMDB?
According to Wikipedia, Configuration Management Database, or CMDB as it is more commonly known, is an ITIL database that stores information on an organization’s hardware and software assets.
What this means in simple language is that all your service assets – software, hardware, SLAs, contracts, etc. – that can only be modified via an approved RFC (Request for Change) should be listed in your CMDB.
IT assets that do not require an RFC should not be a part of your CMDB.
Another thing to remember about a CMDB is that is isn’t simply a storehouse for data about your IT assets. It also maps out the relationship between these assets so that when there are changes to be made to the IT ecosystem in your organization, it is a smooth transition.
The Importance of CMDB
CMDB is one of the most powerful tools an organization can utilize for change management, incident management and even problem management. Without a proper CMDB implementation, the decision-makers in your organization will struggle to make an accurate judgement of how to improve costs, performance or quality.
Benefits of Using CMDB
CMDB offers numerous benefits to an organization. Here is a list of the biggest benefits you can derive from implementing a CMDB process in your organization:
- Centralized Database for Your IT Assets
By providing a common place where IT information can be stored, organizations are better able to manage their assets. Most organizations have separate databases for their various IT assets, so they are unable to accurately assess their needs, problems or carry out proper change management.
With CMDB implementation, you will be able to answer basic questions such as:
- How much and how many types of hardware has your organization deployed?
- What types of and how many installations of software is your organization using?
- How many users are impacted by downtimes at any given time?
- How many assets (hardware, software, etc.) does the organization need to buy to ensure optimal productivity?
- If a user was just terminated, then how many assets were connected to that user?
- What and how many IT assets need to be assigned to a new employee joining a specific role?
This is just a small list of questions that get answered by an efficient CMDB process, but it gives you an idea about how helpful having such a process implemented in your organization could be.
- Visibility, Transparency, and Management of IT Assets
While you were a small company, managing your IT assets may not have been a big deal. However, as your business grows, IT services also get more complex and it becomes extremely difficult – and sometimes impossible – to manually keep track of all your IT assets, the relationship between them, and their current status.
CMDB offers you a highly visible as well as a transparent way to track all your IT assets.
- Change Management
Enough cannot be said about how important the CMDB is to Change Management. Changes to IT hardware, software, licenses, and agreements is a necessary part of IT.
However, when these changes are being implemented, your organization is vulnerable to high levels of risk.
For example, if a newly deployed software impacts your pre-existing IT infrastructure in a negative way, then you may need to deploy emergency change protocols and reset all your systems to their original configuration.
If you have a CMDB process in place, then you will know how the introduction of a new asset would impact your current IT environment. Once you know this, your Change Managers can create strategies to cut down the risk of disruption to your business and ensure that the move to the new asset is smooth and without any issues.
- Multiple Uses of the CMDB
The CMDB your organization employs can be used in many ways. Besides inventory management, and change management, you can use the CMDB process for business intelligence and analysis, hardware and software builds, incident management and even SKMS, or Service Knowledge Management System.
An SKMS is a stand-alone system that is used to manage the knowledge, data, and information that your IT organization has collected over a period of time. By linking the SKMS to your CMDB, your knowledge management process will work more efficiently to analyze how your IT assets can best be used to the benefit of your business.
These are, once again, just a few of the many benefits that your company can accrue from having a CMDB process implemented. A CMDB can help break down the barriers between the various departments in your business, which will help your organization run more efficiently and effectively.
Challenges to Implementing CMDB
Despite the fact that CMDB offers so many benefits to an organization, it is one of the least implemented processes in ITIL. In fact, according to Forbes, more than 85% of the companies have failed to implement CMDB.
The reason for this is that CMDB implementation is a massive task, one that takes up a lot of time and manual effort and can become very expensive for an organization.
At the end of the day, when it comes to a choice between an organization’s budget versus the risk of not having a CMDB process implemented.
Considering that the biggest roadblock to CMDB implementation is the seriously huge amount of manual input that goes into building the database, software companies are creating software packages to resolve this problem.
A great example is SysAid’s CMDB software using which your IT team does not have to manually enter data into the CMDB database. Instead, this software automatically imports data using discovery tools.
With such solutions aimed at making the entire CMDB process easier, a greater number of companies are adopting this process in their core ITSM solutions to make their organizations stronger and safer, as well as more efficient and cost-effective.