How to Build a CMDB: The ABC of a Successful CMDB Implementation

Melisa Wrobel January 24, 2023
- 8 min read

As an organization grows, so does its business and IT infrastructure. The relationship between assets gets more complex, so it becomes essential to keep a map of that ecosystem to anticipate issues, optimize your budget, and reduce downtime. That’s exactly why you should learn how to build a CMDB (Configuration Management Database). 

Implementing a CMDB is a crucial step for any organization looking to streamline its information technology processes, and you can do it in just a couple of steps with InvGate Insight. Once you map your assets, you’ll have a central view of your entire IT state that will provide you with accurate information about the relationships between those items and their dependencies, greater control over your infrastructure, and improved service assistance capabilities.

Let’s take a closer look at the CMDB implementation project plan.

What is a CMDB and what is it used for?

In short, so we’re all on the same page, an ITIL CMDB is a database that stores all the information related to your organization’s IT infrastructure. This includes hardware, software, applications, contracts, users, and the relationships between them. It can also capture information such as configurations or baselines, making it easier for agents to track any changes that occur in that environment.

HubSpot Video

The applications of this feature are as wide as you can think. In fact, each administrator finds new use cases that fit their needs. But there are some common situations where having a map of assets makes all the difference – and that can be a good starting point to implement it. 

Some common CMDB use cases include:

  • Illustrate a service (like sales or support), the offices’ infrastructure (including the main office and branch offices), teamwork, the framework of a server or a key software (like InvGate Service Desk), or the CI type that suits you the best.

  • Help in Change Management processes since you can see which assets can be affected in case of any change. This way, you can plan the rollout of that particular change and ensure it is successful, avoiding change drifts.

  • Help with Incident Management due to the fact that you have all the change logs and updates registered on InvGate Insight to identify the root cause of any issue faster, troubleshoot it, and reach a resolution in no time.

How to build a CMDB? Implementation project plan with InvGate Insight

Building a CMDB in InvGate Insight is an easy process that consists of three basic steps:

  1. Create an inventory.
  2. Create a Business Application.
  3. Organize the CMDB visualization.

The logic behind this is that, in order to populate your CMDB, you need to create a new CI (under the name “Business Application”) to which a determined inventory will be attached. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to view the relationships within that particular inventory and with other Business Applications, as well as the CIs’ version, vendor, and dependencies.

Now that we established the generalities, let’s expand on the CMDB implementation checklist.

1. Create an inventory

Since all CMDBs are built with existing assets, the first step is creating those assets in your inventory. Having a unified inventory is actually crucial for any ITAM implementation, and will positively impact you in other ways besides this. 

With InvGate Insight, you can add assets to your inventory in five different ways: manually, by installing an Agent, uploading a CSV or XLS file, via cloud services or API, or with the Discovery feature.

Upload your assets from different sources into your IT inventory.

The method you choose will depend on where the assets’ data is already located, whether you want to have your devices reporting, and which one you find more convenient.

2. Create Business Applications

Now that you have your inventory up to date, it’s time to create the CMDB. This is a manual process, so follow these instructions. First, click on the “+” button; then, select the category "Business Applications" and complete the following fields:

  • Name – Set a name that is representative of the Business Application and easy to identify (i.e. Active Directory, Data Center, CRM, New York Office Network). 

  • Owner – Select a user that will act as the responsible for the Business Application.
     
  • Location – Choose from one of the locations previously created in the tool.

  • Tags – Include all the relevant tags for the Business Application.

Click on “Save,” and that’s it! 

3. Organize the CMDB visualization

So far, what you did was create an asset inventory and link it to a Business Application. But there’s still a crucial step left: organizing the CMDB visualization. InvGate Insight allows you to create a visual representation of the relationships between different CIs, where you can register any change that it’s been made. 

To do this, go to the tab “Diagram” and add a new CI as a starting point. Once you see it on the screen, add the related assets by clicking on the “+” button on the first asset. Extend it and add as many assets as you need, building the diagram that fits best for your organization.

HubSpot Video

Next steps after CMDB implementation

Creating the Business Application and its diagram was only the CMDB implementation, but a CMDB is a powerful tool that can help you in many different IT processes, like Incident Management, Change Management, and more. 

Once you completed the CMDB diagram, it’s time to start using it to improve your organization's processes, such as:

  • Planning - Identify potential single points of failure in the IT environment by taking a look at how assets are related.

  • Incident and Problem Management - Read the map and the change logs to quickly identify the location and dependencies of a specific CI.

  • Change Management - Identify potential conflicts with other CIs before a change is implemented.

  • Optimization - Support capacity planning and optimization by identifying the utilization of resources.

5 CMDB implementation best practices

The wider the possibilities of using a CMDB, the easier it is to get lost in the process. But don’t worry, here we bring you some CMDB implementation best practices to keep you on track.

Follow these CMDB best practices for a successful CMDB implementation.

1. Set your scope

This is the first thing you need to do before creating the Business Application. Use the ITIL principle of keeping it simple, and remember that the more CI attributes you add now, the more details you’ll have to maintain in the future. So pick a single business service and build it in your CMDB. 

An achievable way of doing this is to start with your most well-known service and map it out from end to end. This gets you used to the process, CI mapping, and capturing all the attributes, and related information. By starting with an easy service, you’ll build confidence and the next service won’t seem so daunting.

2. Work smart

Another ITIL principle is to start where you are. Maybe you don't have a readymade, perfect CMDB already in place, but what you probably have is asset information or databases, spreadsheets with technical data, or support information in your ITSM tool. So, start with that, and build up over time or add things as you go along.

3. It’s all about the data

Build checkpoints into your process to ensure your CMDB is up to date and accurately reflects your live environment. The quickest and easiest way to check if the data is correct is to have people use it. 

Here are some examples:

  • Ask your service desk analysts to try and categorize incidents and service requests using the CMDB. 
  • Ask support teams to raise changes with impacted services flagged into the CMDB. 
  • Ask your Change Enablement teams to impact and assess change against the service information in the CMDB.
  • Ask Problem Management to use the CMDB to support problem and known error analysis.

Once colleagues start using the CMDB, build in some process steps to protect data integrity, for example:

  • Have the service desk update incorrect CI data at the moment, when logging incidents or requests.
  • Work with your Change Enablement practice and agree to some success criteria that supports Configuration Management. An example could be a change that can only be closed off as successful when the CI or service information is updated. 
  • Work with your security teams so that any security incidents are automatically linked to a service so they can be managed more effectively

4. Track CIs over their lifecycle

Every CI has a lifespan so when maintaining your CMDB, you’ll need a process for recording and reporting the lifecycle of each configuration item. By building status accounting into your CMDB working practices, you’re ensuring that all CIs that make up the service baseline has been captured and that all changes have been captured by and reflected in the CMDB. 

5. Keep moving forward

Build up your CMDB over time. Use that first service as a prototype. Once you have that service, you’ve got an approach that works, so repeat the process again for the next service and the next, and so on. Keep going until you’ve captured all your most critical systems, and before you know it, you’ll have an effective CMDB.

Key takeaways

Building a CMDB is key to having your IT environment organized, and provides efficient support for many different processes – from Incident Management to Change Management, and more. 

Creating it in InvGate Insight is so simple that you can have it up and running in a couple of hours. The CMDB implementation project plan includes only three steps:

  1. Identifying the assets related to the service (make sure they are in your inventory)-
  2. Creating the Business Application.
  3. Building its diagram. 

Once you have the CMDB in place, you can start using it to work smarter, optimize your environment, and identify potential single points of failure. Just remember to follow best practices to avoid getting lost in the process. 

Want to give it a go? Request our 30-day free trial, and start building your organization’s CMDB right now! If you find it useful, you can transform the trial instance into your working space later on.

Read other articles like this : InvGate Insight, CMDB, Product news & updates, Product tutorials

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