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How does CMDB help simplify IT operations?

The more an organization works with data intelligently, the greater the chances of improving services. In the Information Technology segment, this trend is consolidated every day. After all, consistent information allows you to identify opportunities to mitigate problems in the short term. This scenario favors adherence to Configuration Management Databases (CMDB).

If you are not aware of this feature, did you know that it is software capable of integrating the most important data relating to a sector. In the case of the IT area, this is essential for the team to be more agile and efficient in finding the best solutions for the other sectors of a company.

In this article, we will show how CMDB can help in the routine of the Information Technology Department. Therefore, it is good to read this content carefully from start to finish.

Melhore os processos de TI com CMDB

Find out what CMDB is

The term CMDB is an acronym that in English corresponds to Configuration Management Databases. It consists of a database in which relevant data about configuration items (CIs) adopted in companies are stored.

It is worth noting that the IC is any component that needs configuration to run an IT service. Another detail is that CMDB is mainly used in companies that adopt the ITIL, a set of initiatives that cover the management of Information Technology activities.

Additionally, the CMDB can help organize and improve the relationship between technological resources and configuration. In this way, it allows managers a broad view of equipment and software, which includes management tools, operating systems and other systems necessary to carry out work.

What are the characteristics of a CMDB?

Dashboards

Incorporating dashboards with Configuration Item (CI) metrics and analytics simplifies monitoring data integrity, the impact of changes, patterns leading to incidents or problems, and the health of CIs. This integration provides the operations team with real-time information about past incidents, problems, and changes associated with a CI, resulting in a significant reduction in the time required to resolve issues.

Access controls

Access controls allow you to assign different levels of access to individuals or teams as needed, and trace all changes back to their source in case of incidents or questions.

Compliance

Detailed logs provide visibility and assist with audits. These logs contain information about the state of CIs, change history, checks and balances, and related incidents.

Creating CIs and filling in data

This process is supported by three different types of methods: integrations, discovery tools, and manual entry, which check IP addresses within an organization's network for software and hardware information. Through these methods, a comprehensive inventory of all assets and devices within the enterprise, including cloud resources, is created.

Federated datasets

Support for federated datasets includes reconciliation and normalization of CIs and relevant data.

IT service mapping

A physical representation of relationships and dependencies related to an IT service.

How does a CMDB work?

A CMDB (Configuration Management Database) provides a centralized location to store data related to IT assets and Configuration Items (CIs). CIs represent managed elements such as routers, servers, applications, virtual machines, containers or even logical structures such as portfolios.

Data import is commonly used to identify CIs in the environment and transfer them to CMDB. Although some IT teams may manually update the CMDB, this practice is not recommended due to the lack of scalability and the possibility of introducing errors such as duplicates and unnecessary CIs.

After gathering and unifying the information, it is important to analyze it for accuracy and consistency. Any data gaps must be identified and resolved. To keep a CMDB functioning optimally, it is necessary to constantly update it, preferably in an automated way, to ensure its high accuracy.

Understand how CMDB has evolved in the corporate world

With technological advancement gaining more and more space in companies, the need has arisen to better manage data on IT assets. This factor contributes to ITIL being used in the development of processes linked to resource and configuration management.

For all of this to work and add value to corporations, the CMDB must be adopted in accordance with the best market practices. Thus, it becomes strategic, especially in organizations that use the Agile and the DevOps, contributing to problem solving and strengthening a culture focused on change and innovation.

Due to the success achieved in the IT segment, the CMDB can help improve deliveries in other areas, such as the commercial sector. This is further proof of how the corporate world is exploring the advantages of this tool.

See how IT and other areas are using CMDB

Nothing better than a simple example to familiarize yourself with Configuration Management Databases. In this sense, it is worth mentioning the situation in which the IT Department receives a service request to resolve the issue of a business notebook that is not working.

Through the CMDB, the employee, responsible for meeting demand, checks what is happening with the IC (notebook). To do this, it also analyzes the complete history of the equipment, which includes repairs made, updates carried out and the purchase contract.

This set of data allows the IT employee to evaluate the causes of the problem and identify solutions more easily and quickly. It is worth highlighting that, in addition to ITSM, CMDB can help with several actions in a company. Proof of this is that this tool is capable of being adopted in other situations, such as:

  • Organization of the vehicle fleet, which allows for more effective management of contracts with service providers;
  • Tracking of buildings and environmental systems;
  • Activities in the industrial maintenance sector, assisting in consulting equipment inventory;
  • Analysis of employee trajectories by tracking each employee's documents, making HR work more agile.

It is also feasible to establish each IC based on institutional needs. This allows the CMDB to be adapted to the company's demands. With the proper use of this tool, many hours of work are saved, which is essential to increase productivity.

Pay attention to the benefits provided by CMDB 

CMDB has one of the most significant benefits of using all the data scattered throughout the company, necessary to carry out IT operations, and centralizing it in a single location. This provides visibility into IT operations across all of the organization's IT resources, preventing data from being dispersed across different locations.

IT teams benefit in several ways from using a CMDB. It helps eliminate outages, significantly reduces the time needed to resolve outages, ensures compliance, and avoids security and audit fines. Furthermore, CMDB allows you to understand the context of services when making decisions, which benefits risk assessment and reporting. It also makes it possible to track the costs of software licenses and cloud services.

In summary, CMDB offers benefits such as data centralization, visibility of IT operations, prevention of outages, compliance, decision support, risk assessment, reporting and cost control.

Planning

CMDB helps technology managers plan at a detailed level with asset management and at a high level with enterprise architecture.

Operational

Core ITSM practices are enhanced by CMDB, including incident, change, and problem management.

CMDB can improve risk assessment in change management, anticipating which systems and users may be most affected. It also helps compliance by helping teams manage audit trails and controls.

CMDB impacts incident management by identifying changes and root causes of an incident and moving toward faster resolution. Incident records are associated with their CIs, which helps teams track incidents over time along with the assets affected by them.

Issue management benefits from CMDB as it helps with root cause analysis, which makes it easier for teams to get to the source of an issue faster. It also supports proactive management, helping teams identify assets that need updating to reduce service costs and downtime.

Accounting

It is important to have application codes and services in IT finance as it helps to distribute billing statements and manage other finances.

CMDB Challenges

While CMDB offers significant advantages, it is important to recognize that many organizations face challenges when trying to derive value from CMDB solutions. Some of the reasons for this include the use of manual processes to create the CMDB, the lack of adequate people and processes to identify the critical data that should be included in the CMDB, and the absence of automated tools to ensure correct data entry into the CMDB. However, it is essential to emphasize that these difficulties are not necessarily due to deficiencies in the technology itself.

By identifying the factors that contribute to these problems, it is possible to prepare adequately and avoid obstacles that could compromise the effectiveness of the CMDB. This may involve implementing efficient and automated processes for creating and maintaining the CMDB, training teams responsible for managing the CMDB, and defining clear criteria to identify relevant data to be included in the CMDB. With a careful approach and proper planning, you can overcome challenges and make the most of CMDB's capabilities to drive the efficiency and success of IT operations.

Precision

It can be difficult to maintain the accuracy of a CMDB. Some of these difficulties include discovery tools not running frequently enough, a lack of automation protocols, or too much reliance on data input. By focusing on and optimizing discovery in your CMDB, you will improve accuracy.

Centralization

While a CMDB is a centralized place to display data, that doesn't necessarily mean that all asset data needs to live exclusively in the CMDB. A best practice is to pull data from other tools so that the most relevant tool is used to support each case.

Multiple data sources

Although a CMDB acts as a centralized repository of IT asset information, there can sometimes be many data sources that are being fed into the CMDB. This can create confusion and unrelated data that is difficult to categorize.

Process

Some organizations operate under the perception that CMDBs are for mapping legacy infrastructure and software rather than the new cloud infrastructure and software stack. It's important not to let talk of semantics stop you from tracking the value of your ICs in a tool that provides a broad view of your technical ecosystems.

Relevance

Some companies treat CMDBs as the single source of truth, and this can lead organizations to try to combine all the data in that place without considering use cases and what is relevant to their needs. A CMDB should only contain useful, focused data that supports processes, ensuring it defines value, purpose, owner, and ways to update all data.

Team commitment

Team commitment is one of the most important factors in the integration and use of new technologies and processes, and in their success or not. If your organization and the people involved are not fully committed to the success of the CMDB solution, it will likely not be successful.

Tools

It's crucial to choose the right tool if you want to avoid failures. Some CMDB tools are simply asset repositories fixed to legacy infrastructure discovery tools with a slow reaction to change. The best CMDB tools are those that can pivot quickly and take new asset types into account.

See how to implement CMDB

For CMDB to help an organization strategically, the first step is to clearly show the benefits of this tool to employees. Awareness-raising work is a key part of promoting a change in culture. After all, data management is not an initiative that is consolidated instantly.

It is necessary to make employees identify with practices that will enable more effective management not only of IT assets, but also of other business processes.

ITAM versus CMDB

ITAM (IT Asset Management) is the process of accounting for assets over their life cycle. This includes procurement and purchasing, software license management, technology upgrades and asset evaluation. ITAM oversees more financial and contractual components of assets. CMDB centers on data used to manage assets during the time they are alive and present in your IT environment. This includes understanding what a service or asset is made of, how it is used, and how it is related to other assets and services.

What to manage in your CMDB?

Each organization has different use cases and goals with CMDBs, and this should determine the extent of their configuration.

Technical entities

This includes application software, containers, virtual machines, databases, operating systems, hardware, ports, business services, technical services, and networks.

Non-technical entities

These are users, organizations, locations, documents, customers, and service contracts.

Why is CMDB essential for effective ITAM?

CMDB is only useful for the ITAM if it is well integrated into ITAM processes. Most CMDBs act as a central repository of configuration data or are easily integrated with other processes and their repositories. These CMDBs store information about devices connected to a network, as well as details about contracts and software licenses related to IT Asset Management (ITAM).

By storing all this data in a CMDB, the information can be accessed by different processes in a simplified way. This strengthened integration improves not only related processes, but also other associated processes.

Tight integration between CMDB and ITAM reduces risk by allowing you to record crucial information such as CPU, RAM, IP address, and MAC address of servers. This capability makes it possible to identify any warning signs if this information changes unexpectedly. For example, if a scanning tool identifies an application that has not passed through approved channels, it may be a rogue or harmful application that introduces vulnerabilities into the system.

Therefore, the integration between CMDB and ITAM plays an essential role in detecting potential threats, ensuring compliance and improving the overall security of the IT environment.

CSDM and CMDB

CSDM (Common Service Data Model) involves how to do CMDB the right way. A CSDM is a centralized repository of standard and consistent sets of terms and definitions. It is an essential best practices framework for CMDB management and modeling and can provide guidance on modeling with standardized terms and definitions. In other words, it is a backbone for the configuration that connects a CMDB from a business and technical perspective with recommended mappings and their respective relationships.

If done correctly, CSDM provides visibility into service and application data from multiple domains, combined into a single view, allowing you to configure your IT strategy with an enterprise strategy and multiple resources. A proper CMDB also provides faster incident resolution, improved security, and a better assessment of the impact of change.

Evolution of CMDBs

An ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) describes processes for managing assets and configurations, with the ultimate goal of maintaining information about configuration items. This information includes lists of items as well as their relationship to each other. ITIL also describes the underlying technical capabilities that are required to support asset and configuration management that can span multiple CMDBs.

Companies are beginning to adopt Agile and DevOps, which means CMDB will take on a greater role in enabling IT employees to understand their production environments and make real-time decisions. The use of SaaS is also expanding, and companies need to integrate their external data sources into a CMDB to get a bigger picture of their hybrid IT environment.

If you want more information about deploying and maintaining CMDB, Contact us right now! We are available to help your business overcome new challenges!

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