A configuration management database (CMDB) is a data warehouse used to store information about the hardware and software assets in an IT infrastructure. It helps organizations to understand their critical information systems, dependents and upstream and downstream assets.
CMDBs are key to ITIL processes, as they provide a central source of configuration items (CIs). They improve core ITSM practices like incident, change and problem management.
CMDB is a single source of truth
A CMDB enables IT teams to track configuration changes in IT infrastructure and to make decisions based on the data. CMDBs are also useful for problem management, as they help IT leaders to identify issues before they occur and resolve them more quickly.
CMDBs are designed to capture critical information about configuration items (CIs), such as servers, applications, routers and portfolios. They compile this data and their associated relationships into one centralized solution that can be accessed by anyone within the organization.
Many modern CMDB tools also offer enhanced discovery capabilities, enabling them to locate and profile CIs automatically. However, the challenge for most IT organizations is ensuring that all data is accurately imported into a CMDB and is up to date.
Using automated discovery tools can help to reduce manual data entry and ensure that all assets are properly accounted for. Moreover, data reconciliation rules can be configured on a class-by-class basis to prevent duplicate CIs from being populated when data is retrieved from multiple sources.
CMDB is a decision engine
A CMDB is a crucial component of an organization’s decision engine. It gives IT infrastructure teams a comprehensive and accurate view of their systems, enabling them to make informed decisions about critical business services.
A properly configured CMDB can save organizations up to 40 percent in IT costs – exclusive of unplanned outages. It can also help ITSM teams improve incident management, change and problem management, and compliance.
The first step in implementing a CMDB is to collect all configuration items (CIs). CI data can be collected by network discovery tools such as Netflow and IPFIX or by agents installed on servers running multiple OS types.
Another best practice is to use policies and procedures that guide how CI data is populated, managed, and maintained. These policies should be documented and followed by key stakeholders.
CMDB is not just a “set it and forget it” solution – it needs to be continuously monitored, updated, and communicated across an organization. The right strategy, and a well-defined process for deploying and managing the CMDB will ensure that your system is always up to date.
CMDB is a governance engine
CMDB provides IT teams with a single system of record for configuration management data, which helps them resolve incidents more quickly and efficiently, understand important service contexts when making decisions, maintain compliance and avoid security and audit fines, track software license and cloud costs, and much more.
Moreover, the CMDB is easily and accurately populated through agentless auto-discovery of known and unknown Cis using ServiceNow Discovery and other methods, as well as existing integrations to third-party sources. This enables bi-directional data transfer between modules and improves CMDB consistency.
Having a healthy CMDB is a crucial requirement for successful service management. This is why it’s critical to make sure your CMDB data is of high quality, as well as to implement an auto-remediation framework that continuously keeps your CMDB up to date and complete–even as your CIs and relationships undergo constant change. These features are essential for ensuring the right data, at the right time, to drive business outcomes.
CMDB is a business intelligence engine
The data that CMDB collects can help IT leaders understand the health of their infrastructure. It can also reveal ways to cut costs and improve security.
ServiceNow CMDB is a business intelligence engine that uses both ServiceNow and third-party tools to bring together a complete picture of your IT environment. This gives IT professionals a single source of truth to guide decisions, streamline operations and provide more accurate service delivery.
CMDB can also improve core ITSM practices such as incident, change and problem management. For example, CMDB data can assist teams in risk assessment by identifying which systems and users are most likely to be impacted during an incident.
CMDB also helps IT leaders to ensure compliance by tracking audit trails, controlling changes, and monitoring CIs for vulnerability risks. Lastly, it can support strategic portfolio management (SPM) by merging services and providing the framework to execute business outcomes.