The Myth of the CMDB

The Myth of the CMDB - Is it Still the Single Source of Truth? by Sue Dunnell.

CMDBs have long been regarded as the single source of truth for IT. But IT environments have become increasingly complex, and, instead, CMDBs are viewed as a source of pain. They are insufficient, by themselves, to provide all the insight that IT needs for decision making and service delivery. That doesn’t mean you should toss your CMDB, or that it’s outlived its usefulness. Rather, it means that these tools are expected to do more than they are designed to deliver.

CMDBs are designed to help IT answer simple inquiries such as “What servers are used by HR apps?”  or “How many Windows servers have been updated in the past 6 months?”

But IT must be able to answer bigger questions about IT operations and service delivery, as well as IT and corporate strategy, such as, “What are the business implications for compliance if we move a group of servers to our UK site?” More robust systems and resources are required.

CMDBs do provide valuable insights and enable IT to make better decisions more quickly for service delivery. But according to Gartner, only 25% of organizations are receiving meaningful value from their CMDB investments; CMDBs are just one key component of what should be a program that focuses on Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM.) I’d contend that IT needs a robust, comprehensive program rather than just a specific tool if IT is going to meet the needs of business today.

IT is facing pressure to accelerate and support strategic business goals for digital transformation. This requires the rapid adoption of new technology, delivering new and innovative experiences for customers, employees, and vendors and leveraging new delivery channels to do so. And, all the while, IT must be increasingly vigilant and proactive in dealing with potential security threats and ensuring that legacy apps and infrastructure remain up and running.

Moving Beyond the CMDB

To keep pace, IT has acquired a variety of tools that store or manage the data needed. But the problem is that these tools all perform individual tasks, and do not work together. This leaves the IT environment with disparate systems that manage software assets, provide app/infrastructure discovery and dependency mapping, ops and infrastructure monitoring, continuous configuration, cloud management, and other DevOps toolchains – as well as homegrown repositories, databases, and file systems.

Clearly, IT has moved far beyond the back office and into a critical role to drive business value. To meet these new demands, IT must build their own custom toolchain and orchestrate the flow of data, decision making, and actions across silo tools. They need to automate the aggregation and normalization of data from across IT, and provide users across business units with a consistent view of applications and their dependencies – across hosting sites.

And because most critical IT decisions affect business, users need an intelligent and connective program that aligns key business facts with each asset to track requirements and constraints. IT needs to move beyond the traditional CMDB to a platform that accelerates their ability to execute change, and eliminate the risk of disruption in the process.

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