What is a CMDB?
A Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is a central database that contains all relevant information about those components, called Configuration Items (CIs), that are used in an organization’s IT services. A CI is, for example, a hardware, software, application, but also personnel, documentation and the relationships and dependencies between these CIs. The CMDB thus fulfills an important task and helps IT teams to maintain an overview of the company’s IT landscape and to create the basis for automated IT service processes.
Unify configuration items, improve IT infrastructure
A look at all these centrally recorded configuration items reveals the current status, but also the optimization potential of the IT infrastructure, e.g. if there are redundancies or duplications. Among other things, this allows savings to be identified in the company by eliminating superfluous IT resources and the associated costs. A target state can be derived from this, which can be continuously worked towards. A major advantage of the CMDB is therefore that it supports IT organizations in promoting transparency and achieving a target architecture.
Ensuring data currency via interfaces
In order to keep the CI information in a configuration management database up to date at all times, the CMDB itself is not the data source; instead, it obtains the information from various systems and solutions, including those from other providers. It does this via various interfaces. The data obtained can then be enriched with further information in the database. This creates a view of the entire IT, including all dependencies and connections of the CIs. With the help of this overview, IT operations can minimize the effort required for IT management and design processes more efficiently. To ensure that the CMDB is up-to-date, it is important to integrate it into existing and new processes.
Successfully introducing CMDB into the enterprise
If a configuration management database is to be implemented, there are the following approaches depending on the initial situation:
Quick start: If a central database is planned for the entire IT, it should be defined at the beginning which data can be transferred to the CMDB in which way and which data sources are available for this. Standardized interfaces are often available for this purpose, so that a lot of data can be collected quickly in a first step. In the second step, it is then a matter of collecting further data and adding relationships.
Advance planning: If there are already concrete ideas about the ideal IT landscape, the target state should first be configured in the CMDB. The next step is to implement the target IT system step by step. This ensures that the requirements for functionality and performance are met. If automation also plays a role in this process, it should start with a core process and implement everything important in the systems involved. It is therefore essential to integrate existing systems when setting up a CMDB and to provide them with the necessary data.
Overcoming challenges with a CMDB
The advantage of a cleanly set up, well-maintained Configuration Management Database becomes apparent not only, but especially in challenging times, e.g. when employees are suddenly enabled to work in their home offices and smooth operations including VPN access have to be guaranteed, or when there is an outage. IT managers who have a clear overview of the IT, data center and network infrastructure can act quickly and reliably on the basis of the CI data, procure the required resources in a targeted manner, make better decisions, implement changes in a more structured manner and plan, implement and commission new infrastructures more effectively.
Tip: Good documentation of such changes is highly recommended so that the knowledge is easily accessible and available to all responsible employees.
More control over the IT infrastructure
The more complex a company’s IT infrastructure becomes, the more important it becomes to have access to all IT-relevant information – clearly presented in a central database so that all configuration items can be reliably managed and improved. If a company constantly maintains CIs in the system, the CMDB gradually develops into a powerful tool and thus into an important resource for predicting changes within the company. As a result, companies can deliver services faster and respond more quickly to changes.