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The common refrains I hear are that “it’s too costly and too complex,” “it’s impossible to maintain,” and “no one can really prove its value.” But whether you believe the skeptics depends on what you believe CMDB actually means. The fact is, CMDB is an authoritative source of information that provides clear and measurable benefits to the management of IT services, IT operations, and IT governance. And with that definition in mind, if you still don’t think you need a CMDB, you are not a skeptic, you are a fool.
Our entire way of life is built upon a framework of IT services, and when they break down, the impact is often felt by people who aren’t even aware of the technology involved. Think about your own experiences with IT services. How often have you called someone to report a problem but were unable to be helped because of a technical issue on the provider’s end? Maybe their computers were running slowly, or they simply didn’t have access to your account. As a service provider, your customers are trusting that the information and technology your organization depends on is available and working correctly.
When issues do occur, you need to be able to identify and resolve them quickly. But without a strong CMDB, your organization is dependent upon technology services it doesn’t own or understand, leaving your risk of exposure at an all-time high. Plain and simple, the CMDB gives business and application service providers complete visibility into their technology dependencies and reduces the risk of service interruptions to consumers. When an issue does occur within a system with a strong CMDB, service providers can quickly find and resolve it, ultimately reducing risk and boosting customer satisfaction.
Just as business service providers are focused on customer outcomes, technology service providers should be focused on maintaining the operational state of IT infrastructure. Without understanding the potential impact on customer experience, unaware service providers are exposing their organization to greater risk. Things like unplanned interruptions caused by maintenance activities, and not responding effectively while monitoring the environment, are common errors caused by immature service providers.
To enable service-aware IT operations, the CMDB needs to have up-to-date information about your applications and infrastructure. That doesn’t mean you need to know every detail about every device or application in real-time. Still, it does mean you should have enough information to be able to identify your most critical hardware and applications and their relationships with each other. The good news is that you may already have trusted sources for some of this information that can be loaded into the CMDB. Ultimately a healthy CMDB empowers service providers to correlate infrastructure with applications and services, aligning operations with business priorities.
That’s a message no one wants to read. It’s not enough that you know your business service dependencies and have technology experts monitoring your environments. Hardware and software may also be vulnerable to security threats and attacks, and your application services and infrastructure must be configured to protect information security. Businesses are subject to legal and contractual obligations that govern how they manage information technology and may be subject to severe consequences if they cannot demonstrate to auditors that systems are configured appropriately to protect personal, health, and financial information.
IT security and compliance are common drivers for CMDB. The CMDB enables your business to manage the configuration of IT infrastructure in relation to both the business applications that depend on it and the information within those applications. This reduces organizational risk and cost, both during service operation and during compliance audits.
The value is clear. Your CMDB journey will be what you make it, and you have the power to make it a huge success. Define your business outcomes and priorities, follow tested and proven frameworks and platforms, leverage your existing investments, and measure your successes.
Most importantly, start where you are. Let the skeptics say what they will. Launch your CMDB journey.