Precision is vital in change management. While modern tools are letting you accelerate operations while minimizing risk, you still need to make change-related decisions as effectively as possible. Configuration management databases can play a key role in supporting change innovation, even if the core principles of a CMDB are founding in rigid, highly structure IT Infrastructure Library frameworks.
A CMDB can catalog all of the items within your IT configuration and showcase how they relate to one another. Want to know how data travels from a storage system to an end user accessing a cloud app? The CMDB can tell you each hardware item that data interacts with along the way. Want to find out the same data workflow, but what it would like if a user is accessing the app through a smartphone? No problem. A CMDB gives you precise visibility into your entire IT setup, making it an invaluable change management tool. Three ways that a CMDB fuels change improvements include:
1. Increased Transparency
Trying to understand the full implications of a proposed change is one of the greatest roadblocks to operational efficiency. In many cases, organizations have change advisory boards analyze each proposed change in order to anticipate any problems that may come up. All of this becomes less necessary with a CMDB in place. You still may want a CAB and some managerial oversight for complex changes, but everyday operations can be completed independently because users can simulate the change in the CMDB and notify managers if they do identify a potential problem.
Cutting through red tape can play a critical role in fueling change innovation, and the transparency provided by a well-populated CMDB makes it easier to minimize risk while also empowering employees to work at peak efficiency.
2. Greater Ability to Support Consumerization
This issue ties back to having more transparency, but one of the major problems that comes with change management in contemporary IT departments is the difficulty of predicting how apps and services will run on different end-user devices. In particular, you can face considerable risk of altering the way data reaches personal mobile devices being used in the workplace and create a potential security breach.
A CMDB can account for personal smartphones and tablets as configuration items. This lets you identify how data is reaching those users and ensure that you maintain secure data pathways to consumer devices while performing key changes.
3. Reduced Downtime Risk
While this is also a result of transparency, it is a key benefit on its own. As IT configurations become more complex, hardware is increasingly a component of a large virtual cluster of machines instead of operating as its own entity. As such, any changes can lead to machines - be they network systems, storage arrays or servers - not having the resources necessary to support end-user operations. This can lead to major performance slowdowns or even outages.
For example, changing the configuration of a few switches in response to deploying new servers to support an app release may seem simple enough, but if you have a software-defined network setup, the entire configuration is sharing those resources intelligently. This creates a situation where your hardware may be overwhelmed and you could be left with such massive data bottlenecks that your users can no longer get the job done. A CMDB lets you work around this risk, letting you accelerate your change operations and make them more effective when it comes to risk management.
Visibility into your IT configuration is the central benefit of a CMDB, but the implications of this transparency extend out to a wide range of change functions.