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Configuration Management Database (CMDB): Learn More About It

by | Apr 7, 2022 | BLOG

Making a list of all the configuration items used in your company and keeping this list up to date can be quite challenging, but it is extremely important not only for the IT team but also for the business in general.

The good news is that this process can be streamlined through a configuration management database (CMDB), which allows managing and organizing assets to reduce operational and maintenance costs, reduce the redundancy of digital assets, and perform audits, among other numerous advantages.

However, you may have never heard of this solution or do not know exactly how to implement it. Taking this into account, we prepared an article addressing the subject. To facilitate your reading, we divided our text into the following topics:

  • What is Configuration Management Database (CMDB)?
  • Why Can CMDB Be Important to Your Company’s IT?
  • Benefits that CMDB Can Provide to the IT of Your Business
  • What Are the Challenges to Implementing the Solution?
  • How to Implement CMDB in Your Organization?
  • CMDB and Asset Management
  • Relationship Between CMDB and ITIL 4
  • Learn the Origins of CMDB
  • About senhasegura
  • Conclusion

Check it out now!

What is Configuration Management Database (CMDB)?

If you own or manage a company, you need to deal with information regarding the assets required to carry out your operations, which include contracts, computers, vehicles, cell phones, among others. These assets in CMDB are called configuration items (CI).

The configuration management database (CMDB) consists of an IT model focused on the management and organization of these items, as it allows evaluating data such as names, characteristics, and details. In addition, one can store data on the relationship between services and different CIs.

There are four fundamental guidelines among the indications for use of the configuration management database (CMDB). Check it out: 

  • Detect What the Configuration Items Are;
  • Maintain the CIs and Update Them Regularly;
  • Ensure that Only Authorized Users Have Access to the Information;
  • Perform Audits for Data Verification.

In the next topic, we cover the importance of the configuration management database for companies. Keep reading it. 

Why Can CMDB Be Important to Your Company’s IT?

The aspects listed below demonstrate why the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) can be important for IT operations:

  • It allows for reducing the redundancy of digital assets and expanding their availability;
  • It enables the reduction of operational and maintenance costs, as it reduces redundancy and increases availability;
  • It allows to quickly detect if there is something inappropriate according to the audit criteria;
  • It allows one to check that all inventory and infrastructure are in agreement, whenever new software or equipment is installed;
  • It is a database that can be accessed by all team members and when a user includes data, the others have access to this update;
  • In organizations that adopt DevOps and Agile, it makes it possible to solve issues related to changes in real-time. 

Benefits that CMDB Can Provide to the IT of Your Business

Check out some benefits of the configuration management database (CMDB), which go beyond IT operations and impact the business.

  • More Reliable Systems

With the possibility to identify problems faster and improve all items, the company’s systems will be more reliable. This is because a regular assessment is performed on the incidents and their causes, preventing them from happening again. 

  • Control of IT Configuration Elements

Organizing assets and controlling their use can be exhausting for managers, however, it is often critical to support decision-making. With Configuration Management Database (CMDB), this task can be accomplished more easily, clearly, and effectively. 

  • Possibility of Anticipating Risks

Through the CMDB, one can detect and assess risks before an error becomes irreversible. That is, it allows fault reduction management capable of eliminating or minimizing its impacts.

  • Cost Reduction

The goal of every organization is to profit more, and for that, cost reduction is crucial. A configuration management database (CMDB) allows, for example, to store software licensing data and save unused licenses. It also makes it possible to eliminate investments in equipment that are not useful to the business. 

  • Identifies and Includes Items

This control also allows an organization to detect which assets are outside the IT infrastructure and must be included to achieve better results.

  • Updates and Records Configuration Items

Asset management through CMDB allows one to update and record their current status frequently, ensuring that changes are only carried out when it is actually necessary.

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What Are the Challenges to Implementing the Solution?

Deploying a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) in an organization is very important, but it also involves several challenges, such as those listed below:

  • First, it is important to know if the company has any control method with the data of its configuration items. Usually, the sector responsible for accounting has this information;
  • Then, it is necessary to define which assets should be controlled and which characteristics of these items are relevant for registration in this control;
  • The next step is to define which resource will be used in the development of the CMDB, evaluating, among several options, which is the most appropriate;
  • Before using the chosen solution, it is necessary to define how this will be done.

Throughout implementation, other tasks will emerge, but these are the initial challenges. 

How to Implement CMDB in Your Organization?

To implement the Configuration Management Database (CMDB), one must go through seven steps. Before that, though, let’s recap what a CMDB is.

In practice, this database allows you to manage service assets, such as SLA contracts, hardware, and software, but is not limited to a type of environment where each data is inserted. A CMDB should enable them to relate in a broader context.

Now, let’s go to the steps that must be covered to implement this solution in your company:

  1. First, it is necessary to develop a logical model of the Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) process in order to define its scope of activities. This model should explain the level of the SACM relationship. 

In the case of a basic level, for example, you can create relationships between hardware, software, interfaces, and servers.

However, with SACM, it is possible to track relationships to the level of the workstation.

  1. The next step is to define the configuration items, categorizing what you want to manage based on this logical model. Care must be taken not to make mistakes when trying to execute everything at once. Gradual notes should be taken of everything that needs to be followed up.
  2. Choose a person responsible for each CI and its steps. This person should define what information to gather about these assets and how this should be done.
  3. Then, the CI owners must establish the attributes necessary for their categorization. This information may include name, cost, version number, and location.
  4. The next necessary measure is to understand where to find important information about CIs. For this, it is possible to make use of an automatic discovery tool and visually verify hardware data, such as purchase, invoice, warranty, and serial number documentation.
  5. Map the relationships between the CIs by comparing the actual assets with the model created in the first step. This can also be done manually or through an automatic discovery tool
  6. Finally, implement one asset at a time. When creating or uploading a CI to the CMDB, compare it with your mapping and make sure it is correct before moving on to the next one. 

Creating a CMDB takes time and it depends on your dedication and the number of resources available in your company. However, you may already have a place to start. In this sense, keep in mind that having an active administration is essential to achieving this goal.

  • CMDB and Asset Management

A CMDB brings together IT asset management (ITAM) and configuration management characteristics, but its goal is not the same as that of an ITAM record. The latter focuses on the lifecycle of individual assets, to whom they belong, and where they are located.

The CMDB, on the other hand, goes beyond this concept and allows managing how CIs relate to each other in an IT infrastructure. 

However, these two processes can be integrated and a CMDB can assist ITAM in collecting data on CIs, managing incidents related to them, and reducing risks.

  • Relationship Between CMDB and ITIL 4

Launched in 2019, ITIL 4 contains the best practices for information technology, which prioritize the increase of productivity in the IT sector of a company, to optimize the use of its technological infrastructure.

According to this library, the CMDB has the role of storing configuration records within items such as systems, installations, software, and hardware, and it is up to IT professionals to determine what should be tracked and how this should be done.

Stored data may include classifications such as change history, type, owner, and importance of items, as well as interactions between them.

Items tracked in a configuration management database are known as configuration items and defined by ITIL 4 as “any component that needs to be managed to deliver an IT service”.

In practice, the CMDB must enable effective ITSM processes and the best business decisions, as it allows centralizing data and identifying critical configuration items.

CMDBs allow:

  • Analyzing impacts;
  • Analyzing the root cause;
  • Managing incidents;
  • Managing changes; and
  • Verifying legal compliance.

  • Learn the Origins of CMDB

With the original function of helping to develop controls for IT service management, ITIL was created in the 1980s by the UK government and today has five volumes published. These are:

  • Service Strategy;
  • Service Design;
  • Service Transition;
  • Service Operation; and
  • Continual Service Improvement.

This library allows you to align IT services with the objectives of a business and its standards are updated regularly in order to support procedures and processes in an increasingly efficient way. 

Thus, its latest version was released in 2011, but since the 1980s, its purpose was to create and maintain a database that would allow tracking of IT services.

This means the CMDB concept emerged during this period, becoming necessary for the management of IT services. Despite this, configuration management would only become a process in ITIL in 2000.

In 2007, this process was renamed Service Asset and Configuration Management by ITIL 3. 

Currently, the challenge is to reduce the failure rates in the implementation of a CMDB, which would be 80% according to Gartner Research.

  • About senhasegura

We at senhasegura are committed to digital sovereignty, which we believe is a right of citizens, institutions, and society as a whole. Therefore, our focus is to avoid data theft and allow traceability of administrator actions on networks, servers, databases, and a multitude of devices.

We also help our customers achieve compliance with audit requirements and the most demanding standards, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, ISO 27001, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. Click here and check out the mentions and awards we have received throughout our history.

Conclusion

By reading this article, you learned that:

  • The configuration management database (CMDB) consists of an IT model focused on asset management and organization;
  • It also makes it possible to store data on the relationship between services and different CIs;
  • Ii impacts not only the IT teams but the business as a whole;
  • It is important for the reduction of operational and maintenance costs;
  • It allows the company to follow audit parameters;
  • It can be accessed by all members of a work team;
  • It enables to anticipate risks and minimize threats, in addition to identifying missing items;
  • Its implementation involves a series of challenges, such as those listed in topic 4, which include defining how assets will be controlled;
  • We also demonstrated step by step how to implement this solution in your company and differentiate CMDB from an ITAM record;
  • We showed that the CMDB concept emerged at about the same time as the ITIL standards;
  • We revealed that the failure rates in the implementation of the CMDB currently are 80%;
  • Finally, we addressed senhasegura‘s area of expertise.

 

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