CMBD, also known as a Configuration Management Database, acts as a data repository warehouse of sorts for IT installations. They are used to keep track of the state of assets such as products, systems, software, facilities, and people at a specific point in time. IT directors are charged with keeping track of these assets to gauge how long they’ve been in service, service levels, end-of-life dates, and latest software versions, etc.
Often, these assets are captured and tracked by a unique identifier, code, name, label, owner, or description. In some cases, there can be dozens of attributes. The challenge of CMBD is collecting the data and keeping the most recent changes accurate as they occur, especially around the maintenance of an asset. CMDBs are essentially databases that lack tools to view the data for advanced discovery.
While CMDB is essentially a database, IT Asset Management, or ITAM, is a set of business practices that support lifecycle management and drive IT decision-making. ITAM is the strategy behind the procurement of new hardware and software, extending support contracts, license versions and installed endpoints, and redeployment of IT assets for other sometimes unfunded projects as well as asset disposal. Strong ITAM programs include the end user of the system, procurement and finance and IT services groups.
Experienced IT organizations can start by labeling all IT-related assets that need to be discovered and tracked with RFID tags as part of the inventory/ownership process.
ITAM goals include control IT Asset Inventory; reduce costs of purchasing and managing assets; manage the asset lifecycle from planning to disposal; achieve compliance and create standards; and improve IT service to end users. Although ITAM and CMDB are similar in nature, they have very different goals. ITAM focuses on the financial tracking of an organization’s IT assets, while CMDB builds elements that create a network of services.
Integrating the two is critical to the long-term success of any organization, and finding a service provider who knows the process and pitfalls is key. Products like ServiceNow can assist with the discovery process and scanned data can be directly mapped to CMDB.