Organizations establish configuration management practices to update, manage, and patch IT systems consistently and document changes. This helps maintain the desired quality of IT service delivery and eliminate inconsistencies or stop undocumented changes from impacting service operations.
A Configuration Management Database (CMDB) tracks configuration items (CIs) and maps relationships or dependencies between them. CIs include assets or components needed for service delivery such as hardware, software, facilities, and systems, among others.
A CMDB plays a primary role in configuration management and other IT service management processes, such as incident, problem, change, and release management.
In incident management, for example, it helps identify the CIs affected by an incident and how the affected CIs have impacted the upstream and downstream components. Similarly, in problem management, it helps determine a problem’s root causes and enables IT teams to fix issues from recurring in the future. Moreover, it helps to correlate incidents with problems in an organization’s IT environment and eliminate CIs that frequently contribute to incident escalations.
In change management, change managers can assess the historical impact of changes on various CI classes and evaluate strategies for mitigating risks arising due to changes.
Organizations implement and maintain their CMDB with a CMDB software that:
- Gathers configuration states from various sources and populates data into the databases
- Proactively updates changes in the configuration states of CIs
- Maps CIs to their related IT services
- Features dashboards and metrics related to the health of CIs, interdependencies, change impact, and total cost of ownership
- Provides compliance and auditing features
In this article, you’ll learn about:
Benefits of CMDB
A CMDB addresses data silos between multiple departments of an organization and delivers the most up-to-date information. In general, a CMDB is most beneficial when every configuration change is updated quickly and represents accurate information about the current state of CIs and relationships between them. Such a CMDB offers visibility and transparency into the state of IT assets and consequently helps manage configurations more efficiently.
As a CMDB tracks the configuration states and changes of CIs, it can give insights into:
- How frequently a specific CI malfunctioned or required a repair
- How a problem in a CI affected interdependencies historically
- The uptime/downtime of CIs or specific assets
- How the configuration states change for a CI over time
IT Asset Management vs. CMDB
Generally, an asset is anything with financial value to an organization, and a CI is a component that should be managed to deliver IT services. All CIs could be assets, but not all assets are CIs. For example, a detachable keyboard is an asset but not a CI.
Accordingly, IT asset management (ITAM) focuses on managing the life cycles of assets: When was it purchased? Who owns it? When its warranty expires? When should it be replaced? And so on.
On the other hand, a CMDB focuses on the current configuration states of CIs and their historical configuration changes. It discovers dependencies among upstream and downstream CIs and helps analyze the impact of various changes.
What to Manage in a CMDB
What should be managed in an organization’s CMDB largely depends on the IT services it delivers and how. Each organization’s approach is different in this aspect. What’s managed as a CI in one organization might be managed as an asset in another organization. Hence, the imperative is to start at a high level and categorize what components and assets are CIs and then broaden this classification in various organizational units.
In general, CIs are two types: technical and non-technical CIs. Technical CIs consist of technical services, software applications, IT systems, hardware, network components, etc. On the other hand, non-technical CIs consist of any other entities, departments, or services that depend on or are impacted by other CIs in the IT service mapping. They can include users, customers, service agreements, documents, etc.
SolarWinds Service Desk CMDB
SolarWinds Service Desk is a cloud-based service desk solution designed to help manage several ITIL processes, including CMDB. It provides richer and more advanced configuration features and allows you to customize the data model used in a CMDB. This helps maintain the CMDB, decrease ticket resolution times, and assess change impact more precisely.
It natively integrates with SolarWinds Discovery to gather asset and dependency data from multiple sources in the IT environment. It automatically determines, maps, and visualizes interdependencies among various CIs. Moreover, it helps to correlate relevant CIs to service desk tickets related to incident, problem, and change management, providing the context needed to deliver better IT services.
SolarWinds Service Desk is a multi-tenant SaaS solution, so it provides seamless updates. IT teams continuously work with the latest features, allowing them to work more efficiently. It facilitates incident, problem, changes, and release management, acts as a central solution for IT service delivery, and provides more context for IT teams.