Configuration management databases can be an invaluable asset in helping support teams understand the nuances of how different systems interact with one another. This functionality extends to supporting change operations, improving risk management and making complex IT systems easier to deal with.
While CMDB solutions offer considerable potential, in the past they were also fairly difficult to manage. This can present businesses with a variety of challenges and has created many misconceptions about the degree of usefulness offered by the service management solution. While there may be a grain of truth to many of the misconceptions about CMDBs, falling prey to these ideas can get in the way of you taking full advantage of a powerful technological tool.
A few of these misconceptions include:
1. They're Just too Difficult to Populate Effectively
Okay, this one is cheating a little bit because, technically, this is kind of true. A CMDB is supposed to track how every configuration item within the IT setup interacts, meaning it is supposed to be populated with every server, storage machine, network component and end-user device. This is pretty much impossible, but the misconception here is that this difficulty is a problem. Sure, it's an issue if your CMDB has glaring holes, but not having one employee-owned smartphone in the CMDB isn't going to derail your change operations.
Managing a CMDB to ensure every configuration item is accounted for is extremely difficult, but organizations that stay on top of populating the CMDB on an ongoing basis should be able to keep the system up to date to the necessary degree in order to leverage the value offered by the relational database.
2. CMDBs reate too Much User Maintenance Activity
We just talked about the challenges that come when keeping a CMDB populated, and it does sound like such activities would be a crushing burden for any IT team. However, process automation tools can be used alongside the CMDB to integrate populating the CMDB with other activities performed in IT. For example, it is fairly common to tie asset management solutions to the CMDB, ensuring that new configuration items added to the asset management platform are automatically uploaded to the CMDB.
Automation makes it much easier to effectively manage the CMDB and avoid putting an excessive strain on support teams. The end result is a fairly accessible solution that makes it much easier to evaluate changes.
3. CMDBs are all About Authorizations
Systems for authorizing change are a key component of the CMDB, but they aren't the only place where the solution creates value. Instead, a CMDB also makes it easier for support teams to theoretically analyze the impact of any changes to the IT configurations, including new releases, and make sure they are managing their assets in the most efficient way possible.
This functionality makes CMDBs an incredibly important strategic tool. Being able to anticipate the implications of any IT initiative and proactively work to prevent negative outcomes is a major step forward over the usual pattern of experiencing an issue, tracking down the underlying problems and resolving them. A CMDB makes this kind of predictive analysis possible and serves as an integral risk management solution not just in terms of authorizing changes, but in evaluating different IT strategies.
A CMDB solution is a complex system that is commonly used as an advanced service management tool. It is not an entry-level ITSM module. That said, a good CMDB can deliver value to a variety of organizations and understanding the various misconceptions about the solution can play a key part in helping you understand the best way to leverage the technology effectively within your organizational context.