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Uncovering CMDB: Complete FAQ Guide

In this article, we will explore the world of CMDB (Configuration Management Database), answering the most common questions about this important aspect of IT management. From basic meaning to best practices and its implementation, let's dive into the essential questions related to CMDB.

configuration management database cmdb

1. CMDB means?

CMDB is the acronym in English for Configuration Management Database

2. What is CMDB?

A CMDB, or Configuration Management Database, is a database that stores all important information about the configuration items (CIs) used by companies. It provides a common place to store data associated with IT assets and CIs (configuration items). The fundamental building block of a CMDB is the CI, which represents an item under configuration management, such as a router, a server, an application, a virtual machine, a container, or even a logical construct such as a portfolio.

3. What is CI?

IC is a configuration item. In an IT service management context, a Configuration Item is any component or resource that needs to be managed to effectively deliver IT services. Configuration Items are recorded and monitored in a CMDB, where their information is kept up to date to provide an accurate view of an organization's IT environment.

4. What are the base tables in CMDB?

In CMDB (Configuration Management Database), some of the commonly found base tables are:

cmdb_ci

This table stores Configuration Item (CI) records, which represent the various IT infrastructure components, such as servers, routers, switches, applications, databases, among others.

cmdb_rel_ci

This table stores the relationships between Configuration Items (CIs). For example, it records how a server relates to a switch or how an application connects to a database.

These base tables are critical to the organization and effective management of data in the CMDB, providing a solid framework for representing and tracking an organization's IT assets and relationships.

5. Difference between Asset and IC

The difference between an asset and a Configuration Item is in its nature and function within the context of the CMDB:

Active: An asset, within the CMDB, is generally associated with financial property. It represents a tangible or intangible item that has economic value to the organization. For example, servers, computers, network devices, and software licenses are considered assets. Asset management mainly focuses on aspects such as cost, depreciation and financial compliance.

Configuration Item (CI): On the other hand, a Configuration Item (CI) is a functional entity within the CMDB that represents a single IT component or resource. CIs are registered with the CMDB to manage their configuration, relationships, and state over time. They are not necessarily associated with a direct financial value, but rather with their role in the delivery of IT services. Examples of CIs include servers, applications, network configurations, procedural documentation, and other elements that need to be controlled and managed to provide effective IT services.

This distinction between assets and Configuration Items is important for effective CMDB management, as each plays a specific role in representing and managing an organization's IT environment.

6. Is datacenter an asset or not?

One data center is typically considered a Configuration Item (CI), not an asset, within the context of CMDB. This is because a data center is more than just a physical object; it represents a functional and critical infrastructure for the functioning of an organization.

Within the CMDB, a data center would be registered as a Configuration Item so that its configuration, relationships and other relevant details can be managed appropriately. This includes information about the data center's physical location, power capacity, cooling, security, as well as the assets contained within it, such as servers, networking devices, and storage systems.

Therefore, while a data center may contain assets such as servers and networking equipment, it itself is treated as an IC due to its functional nature and critical importance to the organization's IT infrastructure.

7. Where to Store the Datacenter in CMDB?

To store information about a datacenter in the CMDB, it is recommended to use the appropriate table to represent that specific type of Configuration Item. Generally, datacenter information is recorded in the cmdb_ci table.

Within this table, records of all Configuration Items are maintained, including data centers, servers, network devices, applications and other IT infrastructure components. Each record in the cmdb_ci table contains details about a specific CI, such as its name, description, location, owner, relationships, and other relevant attributes.

When storing information about a data center in CMDB, it is important to ensure that the data is consistent, accurate, and regularly updated. This helps provide a complete and accurate view of the organization's IT environment, facilitating effective management of infrastructure assets and resources.

8. In how many ways can CMDB data be populated?

CMDB data can be populated in a variety of ways, providing flexibility and adaptability to meet the specific needs of each organization. Some of the main ways to populate CMDB data include:

  • Manual Entry: Data can be entered manually by IT administrators or authorized users. This is useful for adding specific information that cannot be collected automatically.
  • Importing Datasets: You can import datasets from other sources, such as spreadsheets, external databases, or asset inventory tools. This helps speed up the process of filling out the CMDB and ensures data consistency.
  • Discovery Tools: Network and systems discovery tools can be used to automatically identify IT devices and components within the environment. These tools scan the network for active devices and collect information about them to be added to the CMDB.
  • API integrations: API integrations enable communication between CMDB and other IT management systems, such as ticketing systems, network monitoring and automation tools. This allows data to be automatically synchronized between systems, keeping the CMDB updated in real time.

 

These different ways of populating CMDB data provide organizations with varying options to ensure their database is complete, accurate, and regularly updated, providing a solid foundation for effectively managing their IT infrastructure.

9. what is CMDB relationship?

The CMDB relationship refers to the connection and interaction between Configuration Items (CIs) within an organization's IT infrastructure. The CMDB, or Configuration Management Database, stores the names of all CIs, their details and specific attributes, and even creates the relationship between all of them, services and processes, as if it were a web across the entire company. This helps the organization understand the relationship between technology components and configurations. These relationships are essential for understanding the impact of changes, managing incidents and problems, and planning system upgrades or retirements.

10. How to test the integrity of the CMDB?

Testing the health of the CMDB involves several steps and metrics. Here are some ways to check CMDB health:

  • Number of unused licenses: CMDB has a record of all software licenses and when they were distributed. An unused licenses report can be produced.
  • Number of incidents originating from unsuccessful changes caused by poorly documented Configuration Items (CI):Changes are approved based on information recorded in the CMDB. If a change fails due to incorrect information about a service component (Configuration Item), responsibility must be assigned to the Configuration Management process.
  • Number of Change Requests without updating the corresponding Configuration Item(s): Whenever a Configuration Item undergoes a change, there must be a corresponding Change Request authorized, followed by an update in the CMDB to reflect completion of this authorized Change.
  • Percentage of Configuration Items with incorrect information: All corrections to Configuration Item information should be counted to contribute to this metric.

 

These metrics help ensure that the CMDB provides accurate and integrated information with other service management processes. Remember that maintaining CMDB integrity is an ongoing process and requires constant monitoring and updating.

11. What are identification rules?

Identification rules are used to uniquely identify Configuration Items (CIs) and ensure that they are correctly represented in the database.

For example, in programming, an identifier can be the name of a variable, function, or class. The rules for defining identifiers generally specify that a name can be composed of letters (lowercase and/or uppercase), digits, and certain symbols such as _ and $, but cannot begin with a digit.

For CMDB, identification rules can include criteria such as the type of CI (for example, server, application, network), specific attributes (such as manufacturer, model, version), and relationships to other CIs. These rules help ensure that each CI is unique and can be tracked and managed effectively.

12. What are reconciliation rules?

Reconciliation is used to resolve conflicts between data from different sources or systems.

For example, if you have two data sources that provide information about the same Configuration Items (CIs), there may be conflicts or discrepancies between that data. The reconciliation rule is used to resolve these conflicts and ensure that the CMDB contains the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Account reconciliation also confirms that accounts in the general ledger are consistent, accurate, and complete. Some differences may be acceptable due to the timing of payments and deposits. Unexplained or mysterious discrepancies, however, can warn of fraud or deception in the books.

13. What is data precedence?

It is the priority or hierarchy established for different data sources when populating or updating the configuration management database (CMDB). This means that when there are conflicts between data coming from different sources, a specific source will take precedence over the others.

For example, suppose a given network device has information about its configuration stored in multiple sources, such as a network scanner and a manual record in the CMDB. Data precedence will determine which source will be considered the “authoritative” source for the information on that device.

This data precedence hierarchy is important to ensure the consistency and accuracy of information in the CMDB. It is generally defined as part of the organization's data governance strategy, where data sources are classified based on their reliability and relevance, and rules are established to resolve data conflicts in a consistent and reliable manner.

14. What role is required to manage the CMDB?

To manage CMDB (Configuration Management Database), the cmdb_admin role is required. This role is typically assigned to an administrator or IT staff member who is responsible for managing the CMDB.

Here are some of the responsibilities and privileges associated with the cmdb_admin role:

  • CMDB Access: The cmdb_admin role is allowed to access the CMDB.
  • Management of Configuration Items (CIs): The cmdb_admin role can manage CIs, which are the different IT components registered in CMDB.
  • Ticket Management: The cmdb_admin role can manage tickets, which are service requests or incidents reported by users.
  • Problem Management: The cmdb_admin role can manage issues, which are failures identified in CIs.
  • Change Management: The cmdb_admin role can manage changes, which are planned changes to CIs.
  • Release Management: The cmdb_admin role can manage releases, which are new versions or updates of CIs.

 

15. How does CMDB work, how does data flow? How are IC relationships being maintained, how are they normalized?

The CMDB is a centralized repository that stores detailed information about all of an organization's IT components, including hardware, software, networks, and services. It is designed to support a vast IT structure, in which interrelationships between Configuration Items (CIs) are successfully maintained and supported.

Follow below how CMDB works and how data flows:

  • Data Storage: CMDB provides a common location to store data associated with IT assets and CIs.
  • Identifying CIs: Data import tools are typically used to identify CIs in the environment and transfer them to the CMDB.
  • Data Update: Some IT teams may also use manual tools to keep the CMDB updated, but this is not a good practice as it cannot scale and introduces errors (duplicates and unnecessary CIs).
  • Data Analysis: Once all information has been gathered and unified, it must be analyzed for accuracy and consistency, and any data gaps must be identified and resolved.
  • Data Maintenance: For a CMDB to function optimally, it must remain highly accurate, requiring constant and ideally automated updates.

 

IC relationships are maintained as follows:

  • Establishing Relationships: The CMDB is capable of storing information about the relationships between various ICs, services and processes.
  • Relationship Maintenance: Relationships between CIs are discovered automatically by populating CIs in the CMDB through Active Directory or LDAP import, running Windows Domain Check, or Network Check.

 

Data normalization in CMDB is performed to ensure that data is consistent and comparable. This is done through a process that involves identifying and separating data into logical entities, defining primary keys that uniquely identify each record in these entities, and structuring relationships between these entities to reflect data dependencies.

16. Asset vs IC with example

Asset and Configuration Item (CI) are two terms used in different contexts, but both are essential for the effective management of an organization.

Asset is a term used in accounting and finance to refer to any resource owned by a company that can be used to produce economic value. Assets can be classified as current or non-current. Current assets are those that can be converted into cash within a year, such as cash on hand, accounts receivable, and inventories. Non-current assets are those that cannot be converted into cash within a year, such as real estate, equipment and patents.

For example, a company may have a building as a non-current asset and cash on hand as a current asset.

On the other hand, a Configuration Item (CI) is a term used in IT service management to refer to any component of an IT environment that needs to be managed to deliver an IT service. This can include hardware, software, documentation, processes and people. Each CI is registered in a configuration management database (CMDB) and maintains information about the CI, including its attributes, history, and relationships with other CIs.

For example, a database server might be a CI in an IT environment. It can have attributes such as location, capacity, serial number, software version, etc. It can also have relationships with other ICs, such as the database software running on it and the applications that depend on it.

17. Can we create multiple criteria attributes for a table?

Yes, it is possible to create multiple criteria attributes for a table in CMDB.

Criteria attributes are used to define specific characteristics of Configuration Items (CIs) and can include a variety of information, such as type, owner, importance, interdependencies, change history, and more.

For example, if you are managing a table of servers in CMDB, you can have criteria attributes such as “Location”, “Capacity”, “Serial Number”, “Software Version”, etc. Each of these attributes can have multiple possible values, allowing you to capture a wide range of information about each server.

Additionally, it's important to note that the structure and attributes of a table in CMDB can be customized to meet your organization's specific needs. This means you can add, remove, or modify criteria attributes as needed to accurately reflect the configuration of your CIs.

18. Main cmdb base table, Windows server, router, business application?

In CMDB (Configuration Management Database), the main base table is where all Configuration Items (CIs) are stored. Each CI represents an item under configuration management, such as a server, a router, a business application, a virtual machine, a container, or even a logical construct such as a portfolio.

Here are some base table options for the IC examples mentioned above:

  • Windows Server: This is an example of a CI that represents a physical or virtual server running the Windows operating system. It can have attributes such as location, capacity, serial number, software version, etc.
  • Router: This is an example of an IC that represents a network device that forwards data packets between computer networks. It can have attributes such as location, capacity, serial number, firmware version, etc.
  • Business Application: This is an example of a CI that represents a software application used to support or improve an organization's business processes. It can have attributes like name, version, owner, users, etc.

 

Each of these CIs can be registered in the CMDB with their respective attributes and relationships with other CIs. This allows organizations to better understand the impact of changes, resolve incidents, perform accurate Asset Management and plan future improvements.

19. What are five best practices for CMDB?

Here are five best practices for implementing and managing a CMDB:

  • Define clear CI and relationship criteria: It is important to clearly define which IT components will be considered Configuration Items (CIs) and how they relate to each other. This helps maintain the consistency and accuracy of data in the CMDB.
  • Establish data governance and ownership: Data governance is crucial to ensuring that data in the CMDB is managed effectively. This includes defining responsibilities and processes for data entry, maintenance, and verification.
  • Use identification and reconciliation rules: Identification rules help ensure that each CI is unique and can be uniquely identified. Reconciliation rules help resolve data conflicts when different sources provide different information about the same CI.
  • Audit and clean data regularly: It is important to perform regular CMDB audits to identify and correct errors. This may include checking data accuracy, identifying duplicate or outdated CIs, and cleaning unnecessary data.
  • Train users on CMDB processes: All users who interact with the CMDB must be trained on its processes and procedures. This helps ensure they use the CMDB effectively and contribute to maintaining accurate data.

 

20. How do CMDB rule orders work?

CMDB (Configuration Management Database) rules are fundamental to maintaining data integrity and accuracy. To understand how these rules work, read below:

  • Identification Rules: These rules help ensure that each Configuration Item (CI) is unique and can be uniquely identified. They define the attributes that must be used to identify a CI. For example, for a server, attributes may include hostname, IP address, serial number, etc.
  • Reconciliation Rules: These rules are used to resolve data conflicts when different sources provide different information about the same CI. For example, if two sources provide different information about the location of a server, the reconciliation rule determines which information should be used.
  • Data Precedence Rules: These rules determine which data source takes precedence when there are data conflicts. For example, if the location of a server is provided by a network management system as well as an asset management system, the data precedence rule determines which system has the “last word.”

 

For ServiceNow, starting from the launch in Paris, the data precedence rules were merged with the reconciliation rules. This means there is now a single set of rules that handles both data reconciliation and determining data precedence.

Conclusion

Implementing and effectively managing a CMDB is a complex task that requires a clear understanding of the concepts and practices involved. However, when managed well, a CMDB can provide valuable insights into an organization's IT infrastructure, facilitating informed decision-making, improving operational efficiency, and reducing the risks associated with IT infrastructure changes.

We hope this guide has helped answer your questions about CMDB and that it serves as a useful resource for your IT service management journey. If you have more questions or need more information, contact us. We are here to help!

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