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Business-critical systems and strategic IT investment decision-making rely on CMDB maturity

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

Resolving service issues is only the basic level of a configuration management database (CMDB). In our latest blog, we explore more about the value of a well-implemented, well-maintained, prioritized #CMDB

The moment of truth with a company's business-critical services is when a user tries to take action such as logging in to a system, running a report, finding information, or placing an order. If that action fails, the ability of the IT team to diagnose the issue and resolve it quickly depends heavily on the configuration management database (CMDB). If multiple service issues are reported at once, which one needs to take priority? Having an accurate view of the big picture and how each IT asset impacts business-critical services are tied to the maturity of the CMDB.

However, resolving service issues is only the basic CMDB level. In this article, we'll explore more about the value of a well-implemented, well-maintained, prioritized CMDB:

  • Fundamentals of CMDB: accurate asset management

  • Linking services to assets with CMDB service modelling

  • Advanced business benefits of a more mature CMDB

  • A common growing pain for enterprises: CMDB immaturity

CMDB fundamentals: accurate asset management

Step one for a CMDB is to understand what devices, applications, services, configuration items, and other IT assets an organization has. IT asset inventories are often kept on spreadsheets, but those lists become outdated quickly as assets are retired, removed, or decommissioned.

As the number of assets and configuration items increases in complexity, maintaining an accurate asset list becomes more difficult and important. The IT Asset Management (ITAM) Global Survey 2021 from Deloitte1 says, "the growing challenges of baselining IT assets in a remote-working environment has increased the complexity of tracking the usage and consumption of organizational IT assets… opportunities for creating value to the business can be maximized only by managing the 'business side' of IT by working more closely with key functional teams such as finance, procurement, risk management, etc. as well as the business units themselves which utilize the various organizational IT elements."

Linking services to assets with a CMDB relationship model

Once asset information is accurately captured and centralized in the CMDB, the next step is service modeling. By adding the service layers, offerings, and connecting devices, you can draw a meaningful picture of the IT ecosystem. That big picture view is invaluable; for example, you would know that certain servers are grouped, located in a specific data center, and support a particular application that is part of a specific service that's important for individual users. Service modeling is the essential link between the assets and the services your business uses internally and provides externally. The multiple benefits of accurate asset management with service modeling include minimized downtime and efficient event management

Using a CMDB to minimize downtime

With a well-maintained CMDB asset inventory and resource model, it's much easier to quickly and efficiently resolve service issues. For example, say that a user can't log in to the email server. If the service team knows which server it is, they can see that server's status and start their investigation from the source. For a network issue, the service team needs to track the entire route, including the switches, routers, and firewalls, to identify the root cause of the problem. With a properly maintained asset inventory in the CMDB, the service team has a visual diagram of all the organization's assets and knows how those assets are connected.

How a CMDB supports event management

For companies using a tool like ServiceNow to receive alerts or events from a monitoring system, a well-implemented and maintained CMDB could associate those events with the right assets so that the events are more meaningful and valuable. For example, if you have SolarWinds®, Netcool®, or other monitoring systems that send alerts to a ticketing system, the alert description will include the impacted device. To understand the severity and impact of the problem, you need to know what device XYZ123 is and where it's used. Without accurate asset and service modeling information in a CMDB, figuring out which alerts need to be prioritized based on the device and how it impacts critical applications can be time-consuming and inefficient.

A common growing pain for enterprises: CMDB immaturity

CMDB is a powerful tool that can do much more than asset management, but the basics of accurate asset management in a CMDB aren't always prioritized. Even growth-oriented enterprises implementing powerful tools like ServiceNow® IT Management and Operations Management don't always recognize how vitally important the CMDB is to the health of the IT service management ecosystem.

In an enterprise with a mature CMDB, the value and importance of CMDB governance would be recognized and prioritized. The CMDB would be managed and maintained with dedicated people in roles tied to CMDB maintenance, ideally with representation at the upper decision-making level.

In our work helping customers implement CMDB as part of their ServiceNow solution, we've seen the benefits of increased CMDB maturity first-hand. For example, we worked with one of the biggest municipalities in western Canada to pull assets from multiple spreadsheets into the CMDB. By simply taking this first step and having all assets in a single repository, they saw their ability to meet IT SLAs increase by 100%.

To learn more about how a properly implemented CMDB can improve the health of your IT ecosystem, minimize downtime of your business-critical services, and contribute to strategic decision-making, contact us.


1 IT Asset Management (ITAM) Global Survey 2021, © 2021, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited


ServiceNow and other ServiceNow marks are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of ServiceNow, Inc.

SolarWinds is a registered trademark of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC

Netcool/OMNIbus is a trademark of IBM Corporation



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