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Multiple servers are offline. Users are unable to utilize critical applications. No one seems to know where the applications reside, or who is affected by the issue, making it impossible to know how to get to the root of the problem or even begin troubleshooting. Pandemonium ensues. Productivity takes a downward spiral and eventually comes to a complete halt. A workplace disaster like this can easily be avoided with the help of a configuration management database (CMDB).
The accuracy that a CMDB provides is key to achieving environmental transparency, by recording the relationships and dependencies of devices, applications and workloads, either manually or automatically with the help of discovery tools. Having the ability to monitor, track and report on the complex relationships of environmental components provides a better understanding of how business systems and processes are impacted, as well as relevant personnel.
The beauty of a CMDB is that it provides both a holistic picture of environmental health and accurate nitty-gritty details. Individual items tracked in a CMDB, called configuration items, may refer to physical hardware (such as servers), logical entities (such as databases or virtual machines), or a conceptual entity like a service. Having the power to view dependencies makes for more efficient and accurate decision making and troubleshooting. Determine who may be affected by downtime due to a server outage before it even happens, so that risky guesswork can be avoided and productivity won’t suffer.
The larger an enterprise’s IT infrastructure grows, the more there is to monitor to ensure compliance and improve risk management. Being able to run an internal audit of your environment spares you from any unpleasant surprises during external audits. Visibility across your environment is a fundamental requirement for enforcing a robust cybersecurity posture. Being that bring your own device (BYOD) is on the upswing, the idea of a network perimeter is arguably nearing obsolescence. A CMDB provides the ability to log devices that move in and out of an environment, which facilitates easier targeting and patching of any potential security vulnerabilities.
While a CMDB’s accuracy is infinitely better than keeping a manual ledger of all the moving parts in your environment, it is only as good as the data that is entered. If a CMDB contains low quality, inaccurate or poorly maintained information, it cannot be helpful. If incidents are incorrectly classified, it is not possible to maintain correct historical data, which makes it harder to draw accurate conclusions about technical snafus. Additionally, without using asset management or discovery tools in conjunction with the CMDB, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage the financial impact of things such as licensing changes, equipment refreshes or losses. It is also possible to have too many assets or configuration item categories, which may render information useless if it requires users to sift through the data. The value of the CMDB is also evident when a technician can immediately identify what device is offline and how to provide a workaround as soon as possible, so proper classification and organization are imperative.
A CMDB serves as a company's central repository of information and empowers informed decision making through its ability to display views of data. However, experiencing the numerous business benefits of CMDB accuracy is impossible without conducting a proper Current State Assessment. Determining current state is the foundation for achieving CMDB accuracy. Having a CMDB as your map helps to navigate technology change events. Without this process, organizations are left with countless, interconnected disparate elements within a complex environment.
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