Establishing a CMDB system can be daunting, especially as the relational database can be difficult to even get setup properly, let alone manage well on an everyday basis. While a CMDB may create some difficulties, it also presents organizations with incredible opportunities to create transparency within the configuration. Furthermore, a CMDB also enables IT teams to manage change more quickly and efficiently, improve security and enable innovation with minimal disruption. The end result is incredible potential for a return on investment, but only if a CMDB is properly set up.
1. Populate It Correctly
Identifying all of the configuration items that are relevant for your CMDB is the first, and perhaps most important step, to finding success with the database solution. A configuration item can be any piece of hardware or end user device that has an impact on the IT configuration. This can even include personal smartphones and tablets that will be given the ability to connect to the company network.
The whole purpose of a CMDB is to create transparency by not only listing all of the items that exist within a company's IT setup, but also showing how those systems relate to one another. This makes the initial list of configuration items, and the designations of how they interact, incredibly important to finding success while using the solution.
2. Maintain the List of Configuration Items
Just getting started with a good list of configuration items is not going to last long in your quest for a good CMDB, you also need to make sure you regularly update the list to make sure your setup does not become irrelevant over time. One of the challenges stemming from managing a CMDB is that it needs to be an ongoing process. This isn't one of those IT tools that you set up, turn on and let work, you need to continually update it to make sure it has the correct information. Without the right updates, a CMDB quickly becomes less useful and its value gradually diminishes until it is missing so many configuration items that it may be easier to rebuild from scratch than update.
3. Get Authorizations Right
Another key benefit of CMDBs is the ability to carefully control which users are authorized to complete different processes, making it easier to integrate change management operations across various levels of the IT team. The key here is to find the right balance between freeing and empowering users to make decisions and protecting the company against people in job roles making choices that they should not be authorized to make. An unwieldy set of authorizations can hold a project back, but an overly-free system can create more room for human error. Finding the perfect balance, and maintaining it over time, is key.
Bonus tip: Don't Neglect Software
Tracking the relationships between hardware and devices is critical, but IT teams also need to take a close look at the various software solutions and operating systems they use and understand how they relate to one another. Software is often considered among the list of configuration items organizations should keep in the CMDB because changes to the software configuration can end up having a major impact on performance and stability in other areas. For example, a patch to software may lead to data being sent through databases differently, creating potential risk if the information moves through unprotected channels.
A CMDB is meant to provide oversight for every aspect of the IT configuration. As such, it can be overwhelming to establish a good system. However, these tips can help you get started on the road to success and maintain an effective CMDB moving forward.