How Granular Configuration Makes CMDB Relevant Again

Updated: November 14, 2010

The traditional answer to the challenges of configuration management has been the configuration management database (CMDB). CMDB has been a key initiative for the last 10 years. CMDB platforms map applications and infrastructure components and dependencies among them, providing a foundation for various IT management processes for high level impact analysis. CMDB is deployed across various organizations to varying degrees of success.

While CMDB gives an understanding of the big picture, it lacks visibility and control over the complex interdependent mesh of datacenter application and infrastructure components. CMDB is more about the way you record and manage information about your assets, technology and everything that links together to deliver a service.

CMDB can't be populated manually. Also, you can't just -by default- take all the data in your environments and record it in the CMDB. It is simply too much data!

To optimize CMDB accuracy, you want to automate as much of the population as possible. We call this automated discovery, or auto-discovery. For our purposes, we refer to discovery as the automated population mechanism.

Today, the typical IT executive at a Global 2000 company is responsible for managing IT resources for many thousands of user accounts, computers, networks, applications and systems -- that is, the entire supporting infrastructure to run a modern enterprise. With all the complexity inherent in a system with thousand of interconnected nodes, quantifying and maintaining the IT inventory in CMDB feels like a Sisyphean task. Out of this, the CMDB approach often gets neglected, where you feel like by the time you have accumulated the data for the big picture - that data is out of date.

Granular Configuration Automation focuses on a different challenge: comparing environments at the most granular level to intelligently identify the smallest changes and differences that pose risks to environment stability.

CMDB Is Dead? Long Live CMDB!

CMDB is still necessary. Although addressing different challenges, CMDB platforms and Granular Configuration Automation complement each other. The combination of high level perspective provided by CMDB and the comprehensive granular configuration information collected and analyzed through Granular Configuration Automation helps to gain complete, effective visibility and control over IT.

Here we see that Granular Configuration Automation and CMDB can effectively provide the right holistic approach.

  1. By enriching CMDB with the granular information that is hard for the existing CMDB technologies to collect automatically, the holistic combination can better realize the promise of CMDB.
  2. By providing verification and audits of configurations, Granular Configuration Automation ensures that environments managed in CMDB are actually represented in CMDB exactly as they are in reality.
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