All Roads Lead to the CMDB: ITSM and ITIL Implementations

May 29th 2013 | Posted by Tony Ioele

So what role does the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and Service Catalog play in Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)?  Well everything.  It’s the heart, center or repository of information on services, systems, applications delivered to the business.  Most organizations don’t take advantage of what a service catalog has to offer.  Most CMDB implementations are standalone when in fact they need to be federated.  A Federated CMDB is an enterprise CMDB that accepts CMDB information from many sources. Got Software as a Service (SaaS); need federated CMDB.  

Let’s start by looking at the CMDB since we can use it as one of the building blocks for the service catalog. 

While the concept of a CMDB has been around for years in the forms of spreadsheets, Visio diagrams and simple databases, the CMDB of today is based on standards from the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF).  The management and operation of a CMDB is defined in the ITIL standards. 

A CMDB has three primary components or views:

  • Technical
  • Ownership and Provider
  • Relationship 

Many organizations think they have a robust CMDB when in reality they do not.  There are many reasons for this including trying to “boil the ocean” and not having the right processes to maintain the CMDB.  Populating and maintaining a CMDB is a journey and not a destination.  Having a strategy and road-map to implementing, maintaining and assessing the health of your CMDB is critical to long term value. 

Start with the basics – server names, locations, ownership, applications installed, relationship to other assets in the infrastructure.  Make sure you tie problem and change management to the configuration management processes.  Once in place, expand to include desktops, laptops and mobile devices. 

As the CMDB is being implemented having a service strategy and road-map becomes paramount to an IT organization’s ability to be effective and add value to the business.  Too often the business can purchase SaaS and hosted solutions without the involvement of IT, causing support, inter-operability and service quality issues.  Ensuring your services road-map can include SaaS and other services not hosted or provided by the internal IT team means IT can be the service integrator of choice for the business. 

As with the CMDB, the service catalog should be implemented in stages and can start with the basics such as services for desktop, laptop, phone, e-mail, new hire, and termination.  From there, you can grow the service catalog to include provisioning of computer and storage, access requests, office moves and resource requests for projects.

Further Reading: WGroup recently published "Don't Look Twice ITSM is Not ITIL"  Click here.

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