Myths of the Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB)
APRIL 2009

David A. Messineo

from the use of this document. Patent and Trademark Office.Table of Contents Executive Summary Understanding the CMDB — Seven Fundamental Use Cases Where Do Myths Come From The Different Types of Myths Understanding CMDB Myths Helps Align Business Value to IT — A Baker’s Dozen Conceptual Myths Process Myths Organizational Myths Technology Myths Avoiding the Myths — The Benefits of a Proper CMDB Implementation Conclusions About the Author 15 7 3 4 16 16 Copyright © 2009 CA. All trademarks. without limitation. CA provides this document “As Is” without warranty of any kind. including.S. business interruption. . including. To the extent permitted by applicable law. without limitation. ITIL® is a Registered Community Trademark of the Office of Government Commerce and is registered in the U. direct or indirect. trade names. lost profits. This document is for your informational purposes only. any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. even if CA is expressly advised of such damages. goodwill or lost data. service marks and logos referenced herein belong to their respective companies. All rights reserved. In no event will CA be liable for any loss or damage. or noninfringement.

The CMDB is essentially a data set containing critical it business resources and their relationships with one another. Opportunity The CMDB is an information repository that is leveraged by the various processes and functions of ITIL. it improves the technology profitability equation: avoiding costs. The challenge for IT is to dynamically articulate the relationship between IT resources and business value. it helps streamline the management of time as a resource through better execution of essential services and maintenance. By understanding these myths and accounting for them. the cash flow evaporates. both internally and externally. protecting revenue. and management visibility. Essentially. Further. the CMDB improves the economy of an organization’s business model through resource coordination. the information in this white paper helps organizations improve the chances for success in adopting best practices and aligning business value with it capacity utilization. the chances of having a successful investment in building a CMDB is improved substantially. has removed the mystery that separated IT from the business. When IT fails. reducing costs. now see IT as directly related to cash flow. Third. the CMDB is a blueprint for business capacity and availability. have led to a fair amount of misjudgements. Just as the internet has eliminated the need for the middle-person in many circumstances. through ITIL®. and increasing revenue. Through successful design and deployment. the relationship between investments in IT and support for business strategy has become more direct in nature. First. CFOs who routinely had viewed IT as a cost. service management has taken the driver’s seat to the front office. IT is today a major economic driver. and adoption of changes. The challenges of selling and implementing a CMDB. strategy planning. wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB)  3  . service management. and ITIL is a major contributor. Benefits A successful deployment of a CMDB provides business value in several dimensions. the CMDB becomes a logical representation of the business through the lens of technology. By focusing the CMDB on seven use cases and avoiding time wasted due to misunderstanding hype. regulatory enforcement.Executive Summary Challenge With the evolution of IT. Second.

the relationship between investments in IT and support for business strategy has become more direct in nature. well after the initial investment has been made. and documentation and how they are interrelated. ITIL became the authoritative voice for Service Management. the question of how ITIL contributes to the business can still be complicated to answer. the cash flow evaporates. Additionally. Yet. Often. through ITIL. and therefore profitability. and from key resources to key assets. Through three versions. IT is front and center in the war of competitive difference. With the evolution of IT. people. The CMDB is essentially a data set of defined Configuration Items (CIs) with attributes tracked about each. One example is the use of a Configuration Management Data Base. 4 wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB) . Just as the internet has eliminated the middle-person in many circumstances. That is. now see it as directly related to cash flow. By creating a common vocabulary to coordinate the efforts of IT staff throughout the world. from key systems to key components. services. processes. IT and its automation is almost unique in its effect on benefit realization accomplished over a period of time.Understanding the CMDB — Seven Fundamental Use Cases Where Do Myths Come From? For many IT people. Imagine if a blueprint could be made of an entire business model. and then unrealized. Service Management. IT can provide discernible value to the business in ways that were previously invisible or not economically viable. ITIL has continued to transform IT from the being hidden in the basement to the economic value creating organization that today literally is the business. and ITIL is a major contributor. as ITIL v3 centered around the concept of a Service Lifecycle. if not the industry itself. particularly using ITIL processes. in many ways. and formalized alignment with the business through Service Strategy. which is usually referred to as the CMDB. such as hardware. from key stakeholders to supporting services. has removed the mystery that separated IT from the business. the CMDB is an information repository that is leveraged by the various processes and functions of ITIL. Further. The irony is that there are specific effects that can immediately impact the bottom line. More recently. but amongst customers. When IT fails. Because of this. CFOs who routinely had viewed IT as a cost. partners and service providers alike. Service Management has taken the driver’s seat to the front office. the discipline of Service Management. through the management of relationships of CI’s. software. the presumptive ROI of technology has often been inflated. value is identified through business results that are tracked over time. planning and automating specific operational tasks for coordinating enterprise objects. the CMDB also tracks the relationships between CIs. The convenience of having this blueprint available as an information repository is in its support for understanding. Briefly. The CMDB is essentially an information repository that reflects this blueprint on demand. IT is today a major economic driver. has become synonymous with ITIL. ITIL has become a communication vehicle — not only within IT. The CMDB information becomes a logical representation of key enterprise IT objects.

Each can be implemented over time and within various level of process maturity. and management measurement. Table 1 wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB)  5  . reducing costs. By exposing the most critical CIs and relationships more immediately. strategy planning. the CMDB focuses the usage of time required to execute essential services and maintenance. leveraging the CMDB helps in solving the terms of the profitability equation: avoiding costs. the CMDB improves the economy of a company’s business model through informing resource coordination.Fundamentally. Describing this range of options provides the mechanism to set goals and link to a specific IT and business strategy. These clearly support the equation for profitability. For one. protecting revenue. In another dimension. seven fundamental use cases for the CMDB have been identified in Table 1. and increasing revenue. and successful adoption of changes. the design of a CMDB can support the gain of business value through several dimensions. Each uses case impacts these dimensions in different ways. For realizing these benefits. Another is about managing time better as a resource. regulatory enforcement.

Historically. The Process Myth is focused around the manner in which the CMDB supports ITIL processes or business processes in general. it is these myths that communicate strongly the desires and fears of their experience. goals. The Conceptual Myth grows around the manner in which the CMDB has been described in the ITIL books. However. etc. or even evidence that the desire represents what they really need. ITIL as a tool for adopting best practices in Service Management often influences or requires changes to the types and distribution of process responsibility. They often advocate specific information that should or should not be included in a CMDB. Therefore. it is important to first understand the nature of a myth. A myth is a collectively held belief that has no basis in fact and has been manufactured over time to resist extinction. Myths develop over time because people are concerned about something that they desire or fear. it is helpful to understand four key types of myths. There must be diligence in seeking out where these myths might exist within the business. will improve organizational execution and organizational communication. one of which is the implementation of the seven fundamental use cases. myths are hard to overcome. Those misunderstandings. The Different Types of Myths There has been considerable skepticism when it comes to IT’s ability to contribute to the business. the problem with understanding the link of IT to business value has been a lack of this kind of description. made worse by misunderstandings that stubbornly took its place. policies. That same skepticism can affect the implementation of a CMDB in several ways. But to aid in the discovery and unmasking of these myths as they relate to the CMDB. through the adoption of ITIL. It’s true that ITIL improves both by providing a distinctive vocabulary. or other similar types of material that have been provided by Service Management practitioners in the past few years. Even though there may be no factual requirement for meeting that desire. However. Because the CMDB is a primary contributor of shared standard information. These challenges will be found anytime there is an ITIL related project that ignores the softer side of change management. In IT. They myths are often perpetuated when stated benefits give no specific guidance into the type or amount of information required by the process. the CMDB can make them much more visible — particularly differences related to outcome management and accountability. nor how expensive it is to maintain. This naturally exacerbates an organization’s resistance to change. These myths often advocate how a CMDB will instantaneously improve the efficacy of the business and the organization simply through its adoption. but in fact. Because of this emotional basis. having a list of myths is not enough. The Organizational Myth is focused around the manner in which the CMDB. each person is concerned about the value and execution of what they want. in general. before we get specific about these key myths are specifically discussed. These myths focus on the nature of the CMDB as it pertains to being a repository of information. 6 wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB) . or myths. this myth often touts a CMDB’s ability to dissolve organizational differences. They are ever present and need to be specifically exposed in the assumptions of business plans. These are referred to as the Myths of the CMDB. myth holders generally want predictable benefits or safety and the ease of getting or giving them. are significant challengers to effective leverage of an appropriate CMDB.

an organization is prone to a technology myth when the proposed idea or tool sounds like it will be the total solution. etc. that only the CMDB is the valid database for ITIL. • ITIL itself leverages information from many repositories. it’s the idea that a CMDB that is built or bought will just work as designed. From the user perspective. Federation allows some combination of data to stay in source systems and moves other data into a more centralized system. the CMDB is both a subset and superset of individual databases. The preparations to look for will include organizational descriptions. the data required to make it useful will need to cover an increasingly wider set of data sources. It’s been proven in both academia and in industry that the perfect system. While the implementation of a CMDB may be by maintaining a database. including performance databases. any suggestion that a technology is the perfect fit for all is a myth. Contrary to the promise. ThE REALIty: The CMDB is more of a data view than a true database. That is why the industry has been recently talking about the need for the CMDB to leverage the concept of data federation. even though the data is in fact decentralized. It is not a single monolithic structure. and more. process design. this has been largely the case around the CMDB. wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB)  7  . requirements documentation. Shared with this myth are the notions that all data should be considered equally important. According to industry literature. There will always be some slack. gap or noise in the system. financial systems. is impossible.The Technology Myth is the most common myth of all. and that the whole IT organization will embrace it without question. That in no way means that data outside of this control is unimportant to the business. and working around them by being precise with requirements. technology specifications. and the pragmatics of coordinating the functions and departments require that resources be tied together in a way that makes a perfect fit impossible. Basically. the reality is that as it is leveraged to support a widening range of IT processes and functionality. (The CMDBf is one such open standard). Most often. an organization with the exact balance of optimized resource. the CMDB looks like one system. The way to succeed in deploying a CMDB is in understanding and anticipating these four types of myths. It’s also important to set the right expectations with key stakeholders. In fact. In fact: • Data in the CMDB reflects the notion that management has committed that specific CIs are under specific change control. Understanding CMDB Myths Helps Align Business Value to IT — A Baker’s Dozen Conceptual Myths MYTH #1: ThE CMDB IS SImPLy A dAtAbASE. Most IT organizations are heterogeneous. asset repositories. This is especially true with the CMDB. and that all data needs to be in the CMDB before it is valuable.

An asset repository. and that all assets are CIs. since the current state may differ from the authorized state. CIs. by both its nature and its definition. ownership-dependent information supporting Asset Management is managed through inventory. But defined as CI. However. objects reflect the assignment of those investments to the manufacturing and supporting of IT and Business services. • Often many organizations push information about currently discovered items into the CMDB as a way to get it initially populated. and in fact will impact your Asset Management process by complicating the need to keep a second set of asset data from contradicting the first. Shared with this myth are the notions that the CMDB needs to store all asset data. carry some type of responsibility to operational continuity in the organization and are therefore placed under change control to reduce the risk of disruption. That’s what provides the context to understand not only an item’s capital resource value. The concept of a CMDB is to provide the ability to map key intangible assets. as managed in an asset repository. 8 wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB) . as providers or dependents. objects reflect capital investments made by the organization to establish resource capacity. this information load only suffices beyond that moment if the IT department has decided that a formalized Change Management program will not be adopted to manage IT. MYTH #3: ThE CMDB IS thE SINGLE SOURcE OF tRUth. to tangible resources. on the other hand. and that the CMDB is just an asset repository with relationship information. ThE REALIty: The CMDB.MYTH #2: ThE CMDB IS AN ASSEt REPOSItORy. ThE REALIty: One of the most challenging aspects of deploying a CMDB is to understand the nature of the data it contains. a pointer to critical information about the configurations of a resource under change control. focuses on resource versions and relationships. but its business value. it assembles data from around the organization and puts it in one place. In fact: • This focus rules out the CMDB as the single source of truth about all IT objects. is focused on resource ownership and availability. a CMDB is thought of as a data warehouse for ITIL. its focus is on being the source of truth about the authorized state for those resources under change control. not through the CMDB. That is. because not all IT resources are under change control. like services. like hardware and software. • Likewise. • Having all asset data in the CMDB will not improve your Configuration Management process. Nor does it guarantee that the data it contains is actually reflective of the actual current state of a resource. While it true that the CMDB requires having accurate up-to-date data. As assets. Often. by understanding its contribution to the organization. • The notion that all CIs are assets. This boundary of the CMDB is by design. that the CMDB is the place to manage inventory. In fact: • The CMDB is ultimately a federated information repository.

Other data repositories such as financial planning. MYTH #4: ITIL StRIctLy dEFINES thE cONtENtS OF A CMDB. having a people object as a CI is entirely reasonable. the concept behind Change Management is to understand and control the differences between a CI’s actual state and its authorized state. the change process ensures that the organization’s risk management policies are being followed and that any unauthorized changes are minimized. may become a critical part of change control due to their influence on approvals and other policy constraints. A typical approach to get beyond this limit is federation. If the resource plays a critical role in ensuring that a service will operate correctly. The Change Advisory Board will understand that certain best practices of change control and auditing may therefore not be possible. control data from these additional repositories still may not be included. is critical to delivering a service. the organization understands what data should be trusted from which source.• The reason for Change Management is simple. an architect should work with the business to determine which CIs are critical and what level of detail is required to track them. Therefore what defines the contents of the CMDB is not the ITIL books. By ensuring that these two states are the same. there is a certain minimal range of specificity that qualifies as being thorough. In this way. or federates the data. ThE REALIty: In the three released versions of ITIL. It should also be noted that as part of the process of designing the CMDB. it should be placed under change control. the definition of the purpose of a CMDB has not changed nearly as much as the definition of what a CMDB should contain. can be legitimately placed into the CMDB with the understanding that doing so implicitly accepts the audited state as the authorized state. but the IT Service Model. that the CMDB should not contain any operational data. a person or a modem. it does not imply that all data related to change control is in the CMDB. while having a CI in the CMDB is an indication that it is under change control. This exercise is often accomplished through the definition of an IT Service Model. or plays a role in making sure a service can be returned to normal operation. or specific attributes that are tracked operationally. when assessing data for authorizing service delivery. Shared with this myth are the ideas that the CMDB should not include people CIs. However. In fact: • If understanding a resource role. • Finally. applications that store data about both authorized and audited (discovered) states should be identified as to which should represent the authoritative source of record. whether the CMDB imports that data into a repository. wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB)  9  . Operational data like CI relationships. and warranty contracts. or specific person. lease management. and that all information involved in change control must be in the CMDB. the CMDB is not a repository for operational systems as such. When designing the CMDB. In cases where the CMDB repository is implemented to contain copies of only certain external data. • Meanwhile. The reality is that the CMDB should contain any major IT resource under change control — whether it be for example.

CONFIGURAtION. and Change Management focuses on managing risks and governance. when an IT organization is looking to be certified. and changes to assets were compromised by a lack of coordination between the various processes. on the other hand. That often meant that common requests related to moves. ThE REALIty: Before addressing this myth. instead it is being certified in ISO 20000. it is not aiming to be ITIL Compliant. Along with this myth are the notions that Change Management is not needed if Asset Management is in place. As mentioned previously. In fact: • Managers leverage Change Management and Asset Management for different reasons. There is actually minimal overlap of scope if these three functions are practiced correctly with appropriate roles defined. the different roles within each of the processes allow each process a degree of opportunity to mature independently. ThE REALIty: Until recently with the release of ITIL v3. Adds. there is an underlying assumption that must be corrected. pursuing maturity in each process calls for a degree of process parity. Asset Management is linked to a financial strategy. Configuration and Asset Management use the same data. that Change. The key is to see how Asset Management plays a critical role in providing resources to be consumed by IT Processes and Business Services. that IMACs (Installs. Configuration Management focuses on assembly of resources. is a standard. and that the maturity of one process does not affect the maturity of the others. Asset Management was completely separate from Change and Configuration Management. Change and Configuration Management together focus on making sure the resources work well together to deliver the expected result. ISO 20000. • IMACs that manipulate assets to impact the assembly of services represent a risk to the business. ANd ASSEt MANAGEmENt ARE thE SAmE. MYTH #6 ImPLEmENtING A CMDB WILL mAKE yOU ITIL cOmPLIANt. ITIL is not a standard. 10 wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB) . Therefore. There is no such industry-validated concept as being ITIL Compliant. an organization simply cannot safely execute and track the changes to assets without understanding how the underlying change impacts the organization’s operational capacity and continuity. from the business point of view. adds. The big difference between ITIL and ISO 20000 is that as a standard. it is a set of recommended practices that has proved to provide better. Moves. The processes will still have interdependencies.Process Myths MYTH #5: ChANGE. Asset Management focuses on ownership and availability. and Configuration Management is linked to a risk management strategy. while ISO 20000 does. more predictable results when formalizing Service Management as an organizational discipline. which was based on ITIL v2. For example. and all three management processes need to be in place. ITIL does not require an organization to adopt any specific standards. • Finally. but only to some degree. Therefore. there are specific objectives that can be measured that must be adhered to. and Changes) in Asset Management don’t impact Change and Configuration Management.

wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB)  11  . etc. In fact: • Adopting ITIL does not guarantee better performance. That is the role of Configuration Management. ITIL provides a standard set of processes. For implementing both ITIL and the CMDB. the CMDB supports processes. metrics.Shared with this myth are the ideas that following ITIL practices will guarantee better performance. but is not specifically accountable for it. etc While ITIL provides some guidance around these. better decision making or adherence to regulatory targets requires that these commitments be embedded into the overall use of the ITIL processes. and that by leveraging a CMDB. Shared with this myth are the notions that implementing a CMDB will automatically integrate ITIL processes. • The CMDB will not streamline process output. nor does implementing a CMDB. that implementing a CMDB will streamline process output. that implementing a CMDB will ensure better decision making. The CMDB is not. Its popularity also stems from its unique contribution to ITIL processes and functions. managing expectations and campaigning for their acceptance is a large part of a successful implementation. For example. As an information repository. ThE REALIty: One of the biggest mistakes when implementing ITIL is to assume that politics are not involved. Because of these two characteristics. but only when joined properly with other processes that directly improve business performance. MYTH #7: CMDB IS AN OVERARchING OR EXEcUtIVE PROcESS cOORdINAtOR. the CMDB generally does not focus on reports. ThE REALIty: According to several IT analyst groups. • The CMDB can absolutely help to achieve better results. It encourages the alignment of IT with the business by providing a natural opportunity to build an overarching service model. it does not deliver them. the CMDB is often seen as a means to align execution of operational processes. the particulars are left to specific implementation efforts. and reports. and that implementing a CMDB ensures SOX Compliance (or any other regulatory standard). The CMDB is a major contributor to information that encourages decisions one way or another. however. the CMDB contributes to the coordination and execution of ITIL processes but does not actually focus on specific tasks. In fact. a process coordinator. Organizational Myths MYTH #8: ImPLEmENtING A CMDB IS NOt POLItIcAL. the word CMDB is better known than the word ITIL. In fact: • As noted above. not just added as some addendum. The CMDB may contribute to such oversight. The key to creating value with ITIL is to ensure that investments in adopting its best practices are dedicated to operational improvements that are visible by management. • Finally. metrics. the CMDB provides a means to coordinate the efforts of IT. This is true even for Configuration Management. This is attributed in part because the CMDB is a unique requirement of ITIL that can be automated. It provides a means to organize how various processes contribute and consume information in an asynchronous manner. This reflects the manifestation of various ITIL processes in an operational environment.

the scope and size of the CMDB is not proportional to the value received. the CMDB is always playing a dynamic role with management. Another similar myth is that if the data is there. Regardless of what level of maturity an organization is working towards. ThE REALIty: One reasonable way to think about management is to understand the five essential questions that must be continually reviewed: • What is going on? • What needs to change? • What does the future look like? • How do we transition from the current state to the future state? • How do we know that the change has been successful? Clearly the CMDB. who contributes to it. not to simply provide soft cost reductions. MYTH #9: ThE CMDB IS NOt A mANAGEmENt tOOL. specific people and specific decisions. will not adequately cover each of these questions. Getting people to use the data requires a specific effort around selfish needs. In fact: • In fact.Therefore. Most of the value comes from efficiently protecting the most important business services from unnecessary failures. designing and deploying a CMDB is political. • A good investment requires an argument for ROI that impacts the bottom line of the business. the more likely a CMDB effort will remain a true contributor to IT business alignment. Often the CMDB will cost more than previous approaches. The CMDB invokes many opinions about what it is. Using these approaches helps key stakeholders to see the value of the CMDB without being overwhelmed by its potential impacts. The more tightly coupled the information is with specific roles. and essentially bring a holistic picture of how a service is implemented. the Configuration Management team). This role is played through decision support and by providing proactive visibility to the impacts of the ITIL process and functions on the IT organization and the business. people will use it. Moreover. enforce standards. and who benefits. and that management will automatically view building a CMDB as a good investment. The CMDB in fact supports specific types of accountability and responsibility because of its ability to track changes. describe dependencies. Another recommendation is to separate CMDB contributors from CMDB consumers. One key to overcoming these political challenges is to formalize the instrumental role for identifying the CMDB data ownership and maintaining the data integrity. what it is not. The CMDB information should focus on the minimum amount of critical data that maintains that protection. and it will be some time before the overall investment actually returns a discernible improvement. avoid setting the idea that the CMDB is owned by one team (for example. 12 wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB) . Many IT projects fail because the major stakeholders are unaware of how entangling alliances often assemble to defeat ideas that influence accountability and responsibility. False observations that are shared with this myth are that everyone will see the value of the CMDB. by itself.

Shared with this myth is the common idea that a CMDB is just a data project and not a strategic program. and shows logical promise of immediate value. Configuration Management matures over time. This is arguably the most important recommendation.Given the appropriate time and effort. it’s easy for management to find itself caught up in misunderstandings. building and adopting a CMDB design strategy is a useful approach to ensuring that costs and methods for ensuring supporting data are manageably in place and sustained. Focus the initial implementation of a CMDB around establishing an initial set of CIs that map critical business services to supporting resources. Instead. but its ability to reach production level can be challenged by many issues. and that an organization can create a CMDB easily by simply merging discovery data. It is relatively simple to describe and built a prototype. Shared with this myth is the idea that the CMDB serves only one purpose. As indicated by the various myths addressed in this white paper. or just a supporting tool. But throughout its maturation. and it fully represents a logical view of the IT organization’s resources. • The second recommendation is to cCenter the CMDB around areas of high business value. ThE REALIty: Like most IT projects of considerable complexity. building a CMDB is best accomplished by using a phased approach. Planning for the CMDB begins with three specific recommendations: • Avoid too much analysis in any deployment. the CMDB becomes a key contributor to addressing each of the essential management questions. ONE-tImE PROJEct. and is bounded in scope by its natural interdependencies with the other ITIL processes. it can be made clear as to how the seven fundamental CMDB use cases serve as a tactical approach to accomplishing this goal. Focusing on the seven CMDB fundamental use cases will help orient an implementation around discernible value that is achievable in phases. whether it be that the CMDB is just a planning tool. • Stage CMDB projects in terms of the level of data accuracy required. avoids politics. and integrating the CMDB into the fabric of IT operations. By reviewing Table 1 in this white paper. Configuration Management relies on a CMDB. In fact: • Building a CMDB shares the risks of all IT projects. it is critical to anticipate and prioritize the target scope of the CMDB when drafting its logical design. Tying that strategy to building out the Service Model helps ensure the integrity of project stages over time. In fact: • The CMDB is versatile in nature. MYTH #10: BUILdING A CMDB IS A SINGLE. Through its representation of the IT services model. Therefore. Some of these are the capability of tracking non-discoverable data. It is easy. just an operational tool. This makes the ability to sell the concept of a CMDB to internal sponsors easier. a CMDB design supports both an operational and planning perspective. the costs of maintaining data feeds. and risky to design requirements for the CMDB without regard to the availability and integrity of the data required. wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB)  13  .

Often. as noted before is not truly a database. including the ideas that a CMDB automates Configuration Management and that a CMDB Database is identical to a CMDB. Separate from that view are the particulars of applying technology to the requirements of a CMDB. restoration and reconciliation are all less a part of the formal definition of a CMDB. • Meanwhile. but rather a view. Several vendors provide a CMDB solution. but they must be inherent in the CMDB design. but the basic fact remains that a CMDB cannot be purchased. from a third-party perspective. While the ITIL books articulate several responsibilities of Configuration Management and label it as the owner of the CMDB. but there are others. Shared with this myth is the notion that CMDB projects can be outsourced to a third-party organization. The CMDB is an investment over time. However. federation. and the notion that a CMDB is a one-time investment. Adding a third-party to the mix may compromise the ability to leverage the full range of data that would have value in the CMDB. such as a spreadsheet or a diagram. Shared with this myth are themes that have been addressed previously in this white paper. there is a risk in having an external provider play a strategic role. backup. In fact: • The CMDB is neither a one-time investment nor a project that should be outsourced. The same is true for the CMDB. synchronization. Benefits can be realized throughout various projects. ThE REALIty: According to ITIL.Technology Myths MYTH #11: A CMDB cAN bE PURchASEd. MYTH #12: ThE CMDB ANd ItS tEchNOLOGy ARE IdENtIcAL. The seven fundamental use cases is one guide of methods by which to plan to build value. transformation. the CMDB is a logical representation of the IT environment. a robust CMDB requires data from various parts of the organization that have information needing protection from outside parties for competitive reasons or regulatory issues. The implementation of a CMDB forces a set of technology decisions that lie outside of the services model that underpins the definition of the CMDB. The CMDB is fundamentally a model that requires a coherent design and relevant data to properly stage and implement. There is no single CMDB design that fits all situations. it must be remembered that a technological implementation of a CMDB takes additional responsibility. The CMDB. It must be built through carefully crafted projects over time and designed around process maturity. Concepts such as normalization. One other distinction that is seldom part of the design is the separation of Configuration Management from the implementation of the CMDB. profiling. that data can exist in many formats. 14 wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB) . ThE REALIty: There has been a tendency for IT organizations to approach software manufacturers for out of the box solutions.

it may be the most destructive. certain fundamental realities that can serve right away as reliable conclusions. at a minimum. • Updating the CMDB in real time is generally discouraged.MYTH #13: CMDB-bASEd tEchNOLOGy IS thE ULtImAtE SOLUtION. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of a CMDB should be to provide the ability to continuously introduce new services. • CMDB data security needs must be carefully planned. support them by avoiding risks that would impact their effectiveness. Because CMDB’s often cannot be implemented in one phase. Others argue that the permanent CMDB is a myth itself and can never finally be managed. Others argue that the CMDB is really just an extension of Asset Management. and its key supporting process of Change and Release Management. The aforementioned 13 myths identify areas where often CMDB projects tend to fail. • CMDB technology will not discover all CIs and CI relationships. and ultimately disposing them in favor or more product services. these benefits must be built. Different vendors provide different views of the CMDB. however. Rules of thumb: • The costs and efforts to design and maintain a CMDB are not trivial. wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB)  15  . and many articles are written about how easy or hard it is to manage a CMDB. and management visibility. it becomes critical keep all of these challenges. • Data management and integration is very time consuming. There are. A successful outcome will not be achieved by simply deploying a CMDB. technology is seen as the ultimate solution. and there impacts. However. Studying these arguments and separating fact from fiction takes time. they cannot be purchased. Avoiding the Myths — The Benefits of a Proper CMDB Implementation As identified in Table 1 — there are. strategy planning. ThE REALIty: While this is the last myth being covered. Some argue that the CMDB is a myth itself and can never be managed. becomes key contributors to adding and maintaining the value of IT to the business. A successful implementation of the CMDB should also support transparency of IT to the business in terms it understands: resource coordination. in mind as CMDB projects are introduced and throughout the project. a process of Configuration Management. By establishing the CMDB’s contribution to this process. seven fundamental benefits of implementing a CMDB. • Change Management is required to keep the CMDB accurate. Achieving these benefits must be specifically designed for. • Managing CI Attributes and CI Relationships requires the same effort. For all the previous myths discussed.

The author would like to thank various CMDB Services Experts throughout CA for their input. There are many things to consider when implementing a CMDB. Guillermo Gualda. by being explicit about specific risks. This can occur during the initial design and also as when the transition to adopting the ITIL begins. The 13 myths described in this white paper. Phillip Mead. Raymond Nicol. here are five final recommendations: 1. have proven over time to impede the efforts of many. In concluding. Anticipate political impacts when defining the project scope. Dietmar Werner and Malcolm Ryder. but will legitimize the unique contribution of IT to an organization’s competitiveness. Zoltan Harsanyi. along with the variations described for each. The 13 myths described in this white paper. 2. He is currently a Practice Director at CA. along with the variations described for each. Focus on the seven proven CMDB use cases. Focus on high impact areas with management visibility. and poor design are key to achieving those goals. Conclusions About the Author David Messineo is an ITSM practitioner with more than 20 years experience in developing and deploying enterprise-level software solutions focused on IT management. The author wishes to thank the following people for their contributions: Enrico Boverino.CMDB is there are many things to consider when implementing a CMDB. where he focuses on establishing best practices for consistently delivering large scale implementations. 16 wHITE PAPER: MYTHS OF THE CONFIGURATION MANAGEmENT DATA BASE (CMDB) . 5. Avoiding false starts. 4. David holds both an ITIL Service Manager and eSCM certification. have proven over time to impede the efforts of many. 3. inadequate support. This can occur during the initial design and also as when the transition to adopting. Barry Stern. Marc Vanthienen. Robert Hargett. the deployment of a CMDB will not only be technically successful. Focus on process maturity over time and in incremental steps Focus on the level of data accuracy that is required and achievable. John Hutchinson. Hopefully.

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