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White Paper

CMDB - A Strategic Service Asset 

Configuration Management Database or ‘CMDB’ is seen as a brand, representing the wider goal of Configuration Management. While this usually involves a system and database, there is much more to it than that… This paper highlights the strategic value of Configuration Management, as a value-enabler for both IT and the business it supports.

CMDB: A Strategic Service Asset


Table of Contents Executive Summary




Challenges of Today Solution

3 3

What is a CMDB? Why do I need a CMDB? What is the purpose of the CMDB?

5 6 6

Overview of Functional Capabilities




Risk Control Change Agility Governance Automation

Strategic Service Asset

10 10 10


Copyright Notice

Š Copyright Axios Systems 2009. The information, which is contained in this document, is the property of Axios Systems. The contents of the document must not be reproduced or disclosed wholly or in part or used for purposes other than that for which it is supplied without the prior written permission of Axios Systems.

CMDB: A Strategic Service Asset


Executive Summary Challenges of Today All CIOs must balance the challenges of improving their own IT organizations’ quality and efficiency, while constantly responding and reacting to ever-changing demands from their business customers. Stabilizing the high standards of service quality becomes even more difficult as the current economic climate pressures CIOs to better manage and reduce IT costs. How do CIOs therefore balance these requirements and optimize the delivery of high quality business-focused services? Further complicating the challenge, organizations are often not fully aware of what they own and deliver and which parts are most important. IT organizations are traditionally good at defining what they do in IT terms, but CIOs have to bridge the gap to ensure that what is being delivered is focused on business rather than IT priorities. So, how can the CIO do this?

Solution IT Service Management answers this question for the CIO—it is a big question that requires effort, time and resources to resolve. Many organizations have started down this path in the last ten years—most with some initial success and excitement, but this tends to dissolve into frustration as real benefits and changes are slow to realize. The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) has always been the ‘dark horse’ in ITIL—silent and mysterious, often ignored. Although seen by some as the ‘Holy Grail’ to solving problems, the CMDB has certainly not always been well described, and is often misunderstood, ignored or poorly implemented. This paper highlights the strategic importance of the CMDB—both to the IT organization and the business that it supports. A CMDB can unlock the power of ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and facilitates real improvements in value, control, accountability, and exposure to risk. It will help the IT organization to do the right things, demonstrate that it is doing them, and give the business the confidence that these things are being done.

CMDB: A Strategic Service Asset


It ultimately moves the focus of IT to business services rather than just IT. As the CMDB is not just a database of IT components, it offers a repository of information about services, component parts and their dependencies. A CMDB may be misunderstood and quite difficult to implement, but it is ultimately essential to extracting value from IT and return on investment from ITIL.

CMDB: A Strategic Service Asset


Introduction What is a CMDB? The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) has now nearly gained brand status; the ‘CMDB’ acronym is practically used interchangeably with Configuration Management (CM), (or Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM), as defined in ITIL V3). This branding is a mistake, as CM is a process which involves a number of key elements in the ITIL and IT Service Management (ITSM) puzzle; it is much more than simply a database. Certainly, there is a tangible database element required as part of CM. In the early days of ITIL, there was little real CM practiced. Many organizations developed asset inventories and software libraries to provide information repositories for their IT systems. CM was seen as the next stage of ITSM maturity, although for many people and organizations this was misunderstood, or seen as too difficult to implement. Frankly, the ITIL books and output have poorly explained both the real benefits and the best way to implement and make CM work; CM has often been seen as an unnecessary and unattainable burden. In the last few years, there has been more focus, understanding and expertise emerging in this area, and the levels of maturity and successful uptake have continued to grow. CM is now appreciated more as a fundamental part of ITSM and one which must be delivered if the full benefits are to be realized. In short, the CMDB is the ‘information engine room’ that enables IT to deliver ITIL processes and business value. Yes, it is a repository of information about key IT assets, systems, programs, etc. However it also holds information on relationships and dependencies across these IT systems that enable the IT provider to manage and demonstrate value in the delivery of business services. Without the CMDB, the IT organization is basically ignorant of what it is doing, what it is managing and is fundamentally unable to show that it is delivering what customers need. The CMDB is the backbone of the business and acts as a catalyst that empowers the IT department to deliver quality and value through ITIL processes. CM as a whole, however, is a process and approach - much more than just a list or database.

CMDB: A Strategic Service Asset


Why do I need a CMDB? There are two main reasons why an organization needs a CMDB: (1) (2)

to maximize the benefits and return on investment from ITIL, and to support the delivery and demonstration of value from IT.

On its own, the CMDB is not particularly exciting and does not have any obvious intrinsic benefits. Without CM, the CMDB is unable to make the rest of ITIL truly work. CM can instantly save money on license management when combined with discovery and Asset Management. It speeds up Incident Management and service delivery and aids faster diagnosis of issues. CM also supports Problem Management to diagnose root causes and saves time and money lost due to outages. In addition, it will prevent costly downtime by assisting Change Management in assessing risk and impact across complex infrastructures. Also, and most importantly, when combined with Service Level Management (SLM) and a Service Catalog, CM empowers the IT organization to manage and demonstrate value-based IT Services. CM, therefore, is the key that unlocks value from ITSM. While Incident, Problem and Change Management allow value-based management, good SLM delivers value-based reporting and monitoring. All of these processes are dependent on CM and therefore the CMDB is a strategic asset in the delivery of value from IT. Good implementation of a CMDB delivers Service Value Management.

Summary Strategic Service Asset Ultimately, the CMDB provides value to the IT organization through smooth facilitation of ITIL and ITSM processes. It also helps the IT organization to manage its resources effectively with reduced risk and increased accountability. From the business perspective, the CMDB will help the IT organization work more effectively with the business and be able to deliver and demonstrate that it is meeting the business’ needs. Without the CMDB, the IT organization has limited management control and runs a high risk of not providing the services required by the business.

CMDB: A Strategic Service Asset


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CMDB: A Strategic Service Asset


About Axios Systems

Axios Systems is one of the world’s leading providers of IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions. Its customer-centric approach, combined with its award-winning software, enables customers to improve their Service Delivery and Support and deliver Continual Service Improvement by helping to align and realign IT services to changing business needs, supporting business processes and improving productivity. Benefiting from more than 20 years of development and investment around Best Practice principles, Axios Systems’ core solution, assyst, built around a market-leading CMDB, intuitively steers users through the ITIL processes which help organizations transition toward the next generation of ITSM and Service Desks. assyst offers a unique lifecycle approach to ITSM with the integration of all ITIL processes (including Incident Management, Capacity Management, Problem Management, Change Management, Asset Management, Configuration Management and Service Level Management), twelve of which have been verified by Pink Elephant’s PinkVERIFY service as compatible with industry best practices (based on ITIL V3), in a single, out-of-the-box application. It empowers management with a dashboard-based transparent view of real-time performance against SLAs, and Operations Level Agreements (OLAs) using Web 2.0 technologies. Implementing assyst into an organization optimizes IT infrastructure efficiency, reduces overheads and lowers the total cost of IT ownership (TCO), helping to ensure a significant return on investment (ROI) with rapid time-to-value. Axios also offers a comprehensive set of consulting and training services to support ITSM best practices in an organization. Axios is headquartered in the UK, with offices across Europe, the Americas, Middle East and Asia Pacific. Axios’ global presence is further strengthened with a worldwide network of partners. For more information, visit

CMDB - A Strategic Service Asset  
CMDB - A Strategic Service Asset  

The CMDB is an enabling technology for better, faster and cheaper service provision. Read this whitepaper to find out how a CMDB can suppor...