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3 Ways a CMDB Can Help You Handle a Software Defined Reality

11/06/2015 by: The SunView Team

The software-defined data center movement is coming to a head as storage and network virtualization takes hold in more organizations. Server virtualization fueled a wave of innovation that has been happening through the past few years, with demand for network and storage virtualization coming in response. As businesses invest in more diverse virtualization solutions, IT departments are facing escalating management complexity. In response, companies need sophisticated IT service management solutions that provide detailed insight into hardware configurations so IT leaders can create the transparency needed t understand the nuances of the technology setup.

A configuration management database can be invaluable in this area, as it gives IT teams the information they need to quickly assess technology systems and deal with the complexity of a software-defined data center. Three ways a CMDB makes this possible include:

1. Understanding how Systems Relate
A CMDB is structured as a relational database. This means that the solution will show how different technologies interact with one another. For example, it won't just tell you what servers are in one segment of the data center, it will show you the pathway of data as it moves from a server out to end users. This lets you understand which network equipment and storage machines the server depends on to function properly.

Understanding these relationships is critical in a software-defined data centers because data can move through your infrastructure in unpredictable pathways. In theory, the hardware becomes less important because data can move through the network using whichever pathway is most efficient and virtual machines can be moved freely between similar hardware. In practice, IT teams must ensure they have the hardware resources needed to handle this free data movement in every component of the data center, and understanding how systems relate is key to maintaining this balancing act.

2. Predicting the Results of a Change
The way data moves freely through the configuration in a software-defined data center makes change processes incredibly complex. Any change can cause hardware resource availability to diminish and, if that happens in the wrong place at the wrong time, applications and services can go down. The built-in flexibility of software-defined configurations creates risk of cascading failures as system resources potentially waver during a change event. A CMDB will help you understand how inter-related system resources will be impacted by a change and prepare for the situation accordingly.

3. Simplifying Managerial Decisions
Complex changes are usually met with internal checks and balances to ensure that errors and poor planning do not lead to a downtime event or similar incident. This process of including managerial oversight into change operations can cause projects to slow to a crawl as system administrators wait for managers to approve change tasks. A CMDB gives managers a top-down view of the IT setup and a clear idea of how the isolated change will impact the configuration as a whole. This can accelerate decision making and enable them to approve change requests quickly enough to keep operations humming at a steady pace.

The software-defined data center is around the corner. Maybe you are only using server virtualization. Perhaps you've begun to invest in storage, network or even desktop virtualization. Regardless of where you are in the process of embracing software-defined technologies, having a CMDB in place can make it much easier for you to evaluate your configuration and get clear understanding of how various virtualization tools will impact you IT systems and strategies.

Getting a grip on the nuances of your IT configuration is critical as you explore ways to abstract virtual machines from the hardware that hosts them. A CMDB gives you that insight.