Implementing a configuration management database can be a challenging and time consuming process, but the final result is well worth the effort that goes into trying to establish the relational database. A surface level investigation into what CMDBs accomplish provides a simple explanation for their importance - they provide insight into how different IT systems interact with one another. However, looking deeply at how CMDBs function will reveal that this relational functionality proves incredibly valuable as the foundation for more sophisticated IT service management strategies.
Three ways that CMDBs serve as a building block for ITSM plans include:
Building a CMDB means populating the database with all of the configuration items that are in the IT setup. This can mean anything from servers and storage systems to employee-owned mobile devices. Having a central repository of all of the items within the IT setup provides transparency into how complex the technology architecture is, how dependent different processes are on specific solutions and how different changes will impact the configuration as a whole. Transparency is important in complex systems with lots of moving parts, and a CMDB creates transparency within IT.
Human error and unanticipated consequences are among the common causes of downtime, data loss and other technology problems. Sometimes mistakes happen because a person just messed up, and sometimes they happen because the implications of a change weren't clear, but a CMDB can address both of these issues. CMDBs can be equipped with built-in authorization protocols that ensure supervisors provide a second set of eyes on a change, making it much easier to avoid human error. At the same time, the transparency created by CMDBs makes it easier to anticipate all of the results of a proposed change and plan accordingly.
Manually analyzing changes and resolutions takes an extended period of time as IT workers need to think through every possible scenario and perform a variety of risk assessments. As discussed, CMDBs provide visibility and control. Efficiency is the result of those two benefits. The ability to simulate change within the CMDB makes risk assessment and change planning much more efficient, letting IT respond to new business demands quickly.
Developing a robust ITSM system is becoming more important as organizations ask IT teams to play a more strategic part in enabling business functionality. Achieving this goal becomes much easier when companies start with a CMDB and build their way up to even more sophisticated ITSM modules.