All About the CMDB
What is a CMDB?
A CMDB (Configuration Management Database) stores all information about the technological components used by an organization as well as the relationships between these components. The database is organized in a way that clearly defines the relationships and dependencies of the components stored. Each component is defined as a Configuration Item (CI) and is often associated with other CIs to show how the CIs work together to help deliver IT services.
The benefits of a CMDB
Every day you use a variety of tools to improve your business processes.
A Service Desk to meet the daily needs of your users, to allow your team members to open Incidents, Problems, Changes etc. to ensure delivery of engaging service experiences, quick problem resolution, business alignment, etc.
A Discovery tool to provide a list of assets used by your organization.
A Configuration Database to maintain a list of all IT and Business Components within your organization.
It is important to understand the relationships and dependencies of your assets to understand how they impact everyday organizational operations. When you implement a CMDB, you are able to take your IT productivity to another level by integrating the CMDB to key ITSM processes. The goal is to assist IT professionals proactively deliver services to their users by improving key IT service management processes.
How your CMDB works for you
As technology improves, expands in capabilities, and becomes more complex, it makes understanding your IT infrastructure that much more important. Similar to any highway you travel to get to work, if there is construction occurring on your route, you would like to know as early as possible, so you can find yourself an alternate route or leave earlier to ensure you give yourself ample time to sit in traffic on your way to work.
The CMDB can predict behavior and ensure you minimize and even prevent issues that can lead to downtime in your workday.
As a best practice, your IT professionals can identify, manage, and improve how each component that makes up your IT infrastructure impacts key IT service management processes such as Incidents, Problems, Changes, Releases, and Configuration Management. For example, a planned operating system upgrade to an application server will definitely cause downtime. With proper understanding of your CMDB, IT professionals can quickly and accurately determine which systems (additional CIs such as business services or applications) will be affected. This information is most helpful in determining when to schedule the upgrade at a time that will minimize the negative effects on employees and business processes.
Major tasks of your CMDB
The CMDB can lead to more proactive service delivery by increasing your visibility into the technological landscape of your IT community. This leads to:
- Overall improvement of your IT service management processes.
- The streamlining of change management through a deeper understanding of change impact.
- Faster incident resolution through rapid analysis and diagnosis of root causes.
- Improved problem resolution.
Steps to success:
- Identify the CIs that will make up your CMDB.
- You don't need to define every device. Begin with mapping out the IT backbone of your organization (this can be achieved by using SolarWindsDiscovery).
- Include the dependencies between CIs.
- Associate these CIs with relevant ITSM items such as incidents, problems, changes, and releases.
- Ensure proper levels of control.
- Only authorized individuals should have access to and the ability to make changes to the information collected (ensure security).
- Maintain automatic updates of all CIs in your CMDB via integration with SolarWinds Discovery.
Getting to Know your SolarWinds CMDB
The SolarWinds CMDB data model has a parent/child hierarchy and provides out-of-the-box CIs. You can also create additional custom CI types to ensure your data model accurately reflects your physical and virtual IT infrastructure. You first define your CIs, then use the SWSD CMDB data model to assist you in defining the relationships and dependencies of your CIs.
The CMDB data model is built so that each CI type inherits the layout and fields of its parent CI type. This allows for time efficient customization of the data model to meet each organization's business needs. For example, when you add a custom field to the System CI type layout, that field will appear on all of its child layouts as well, such as computer, network device, and router.
For additional information on CI Types, see Configuration Item (CI) Types.
Configuration Items (CI) Index Page
From the Configuration Items index pages you are able to view all the configuration items entered into your database. You can customize, edit and filter your view to best meet your needs. For more information on index pages and customization, see List View.
Create/Add a new CI
Navigate to Service Desk > CMDB.
Click the blue plus sign icon and select the relevant CI type from the drop-down menu.
Enter the requested details and notice the tabs at the bottom of the window.
Dependencies - Select the Attach button and mark all relevant CIs, then click Attach.
Related - Select the Attach button and select which type of ITSM object you wish to attach. For example, select Incidents and then select the relevant incidents that should be attached to the CI. Click Attach when completed.
Audit - Shows which fields were edited on the record, by whom the edits were made, time and date of edit.
After you have entered all the information and attached the relevant dependencies and ITSM objects, click Create.
You will notice:
CIs including Computer, Mobile and Other Assets, reflect an older Information window that will be updated soon to match the flow of ITSM objects and other CIs.
CIs such as Contract, Person, Group and Vendor Can only be created from their dedicated page (for example, Contracts, Groups.) therefore cannot be created from the CMDB index
When you manually create any of the following CIs (Network Device, Access Point, Firewall, Router, Switch, or Printer) you will see the updated redesign page. However when these CIs are discovered via automatic scanning, they will be associated with the previous setup of the Network Device page.
For instructions on viewing, creating, and editing CI Types, see Configuration Item (CI) Types.
It is important to create associations that describe the nature of the relationship between two or more CIs. For example, if a network router has an interruption of service, then all servers and PCs connected to that router will also experience an interruption of service. CI dependencies between the router and all servers and PCs connected to it helps you in understanding the impact of the interruption of service.
Dependencies relate to the relationships between CIs and how CIs are connected with one another. Each relationship has a forward and inverse dependency.
For more information, see Configuration Item (CI) Dependencies.
To increase visibility of your IT infrastructure, the SolarWinds Service Desk Enterprise plan includes a CMDB Visual Map. With a clear visualization, you have a greater understanding of the how relationships between Configuration Items (CIs) can impacts dependent CIs.
For more information, see CMDB Visual Map.