CMDB ImplementationA Ta l eofTwoExtremes- Arvind Parthiban

Table of ContentsIntroductionABCs of CMDBIs Implementing CMDB Difficult?Simplifying CMDBStep1: Forget the text book ProcessesStep2: Defining your CI's (A tale of two extremes)Step 3: Relationships: It's always complicatedSummaryHow ServiceDesk Plus is different from other CMDB toolsAbout the AuthorAbout ManageEngineReferences


One of the “quality problems” to have, as your business grows is thechallenge of managing all your resources. As the number of youremployees grow and your IT assets expand, it is difficult to ascertainexactly what and where all your assets are. It is important to get morevisibility on what applications and services are running on each asset,how they interact, and the business impact if these resources aredown, responding poorly or slowly, or jeopardized by security threats.The Configuration Management Database or CMDB is an ITIL processthat is predominantly being used in datacenters to manage theirConfiguration Items (CIs). I have always wondered why can't CMDBprocesses be used for managing regular IT assets. As managing the ITnetwork and their resources are becoming harder and harder, it makessense to adopt CMDB and reap the benefits and get a grip over your IT.Lets not get started about the number of horror stories I have heard ontrying to implement CMDB successfully. Lets face it if you don't knowwhat is in your IT and how all the assets are related together, you don'tstand a chance to manage, improve and support them efficiently. Thiswhitepaper will discuss more on the easier ways to successfullyimplement and deploy CMDB, and how you can adopt CMDB for rest ofthe IT.3


For those who have not heard of CMDB, it is defined as ConfigurationManagement Database. It is the core process of a successful ITILimplementation. CMDB is a repository of CIs (Configuration Items) thatcontains pivotal information like relationship, ownership and dependencies ofbusiness-critical CIs that directly impact uptime, service levels and the enduser experience. The purpose of CMDB is to perform these key functions,·Account for all IT Services and configurations within the organization.·Provide accurate information about each CI.·Define relationships & dependencies of each CI.Every action performed in IT requires some information to make a decision. Infact, the relationship between information and decisions is also applicable foreverything beyond IT. With no information or data, the decision is just a gut feelor guesswork. So the chances of hitting a home run with just a gut feel are verylow. To make the right decisions, you need the right data. To make it moreeffective, you need this information from the right source and that source isCMDB. The whole purpose of CMDB is to give you the right information tomake right tyManagementmore.

Is ImplementingCMDB difficult?Why is your organization not implementing a CMDB?

In our recent survey, we found that most organizations are not ready to adoptCMDB. We were somewhat surprised to learn that they have not even heard ofit or don't think it as a priority. Most of the IT guys who tried implementingCMDB have failed or dropped it in the planning stages itself. It's true thatimplementing a CMDB can be challenging at times. But many haveimplemented and found the benefits to be significant. The reason for failurecould either be poor planning or setting the wrong expectations. In my opinion,the best way to implement CMDB is to simplify the process and keep to thebasics, first and foremost, capturing the details of the CIs. In other words,define the depth of CI categories you want to discover and maintain in CMDB.Secondly, setting your expectations correctly - what is it you want to achievefrom the CMDB? Don't introduce unnecessary workload and pressure;instead set the goals and scope right and work on that which you can manageand achieve. You can always add additional CIs as and when you grow toachieve broader configuration management.Why is your organization not implementing a CMDB?(Multiple answers allowed)7


Step 1: Forget the textbook processes.The primary prerequisite for a successful journey to CMDB is to forget what thebooks have taught us and apply common sense. Do not embark on the road toCMDB just for the sake of adopting ITIL. It is very important to implementprocesses at the right time; also, the help desk should be mature enough tohandle the process, or the journey could jump the tracks.9

Defining your CIs- A tale of two extremes

What is a CI? Well, anything under the roof of your organization related to IT isa CI – servers, the applications running on them, and the user details. One ofthe frequent questions I have encountered in all CMDB implementations iswhether even the chairs and desks are considered as CIs. Before I share myopinion, let me share how it is practiced in the market today. As the CMDB ispredominantly used for managing datacenters, only those business-criticalassets that are related to datacenters are defined as CIs. As far as I can tell,including physical assets such as chairs and desks in your CMDB is onescenario and focused CMDB solely on IT and datacenter assets related tobusiness critical CIs is the other. Finding the balance between these twoextremes is what we will discuss later in this whitepaper. Even in our recentsurvey, when we asked our audience what they want to have in their CMDB,half of our audience wanted all information related to IT in their CMDB.What information has your organization put into(or plan to put into) the CMDB?Only significant components of the ITinfrastructureAll information related to IT11Others, please specify

All critical CI's orjust the datacenterrelated CI's

Step 2: Decide what should be in your CMDBAs more businesses today implement CMDB as a core part of ServiceManagement for datacenters, questions are now arising about the boundariesof the CMDB. Many have felt the CMDB has no role outside datacenters; but agrowing number are seeing that the value of CMDB is not limited to justdatacenters. The fact is that CMDB is relevant for areas outside datacentersand can be used for the entirety of IT infrastructure.So, lets define the contents of the CMDB as:·IT elements that are business critical·How these elements are related to each other·How these relationships impacts your businessA classic example is provided by the Hummer army vehicle, which was laterintroduced to consumers so that they could enjoy the experience. SimilarlyCMDB can also fall in the same path and can be later adapted and expandedbeyond the datacenter to manage all day-to-day IT Infrastructure.Scenario:Acme Inc. had an Internet outage for nearly half of its business. Whenanalyzed, they found that an agent had tried to open and close a few ports inthe firewall to use a discovery tool. The part he missed was that was there weretwo main links connected to the firewall and he had closed those portsaccidentally without knowing the business impact. This small incident turnedout to be a disaster where half of the Acme employees were unable to connectto the Internet. However, if with a proper CMDB in place, the agent would haveknown the business impact of the CI and would have handled the situationbetter with the right information from the CMDB.13

RelationshipsIt's always complicated

Step 3: Create relationships for business-critical CIs based on businessimpact.Everyone knows that personal relationships are always complicated, and soare the relationships between CIs. It is important to know what is running onyour machines, how they are related and the impact it creates if an asset isdown or unavailable. One of the core purposes of the CMDB is to know therelationships of CIs so that you can get a clear visibility on your network andmake the right decisions.Scenario:Let us say that you want to update the windows service pack on a server andrestart it after installation. But, the same server also hosts an accountingapplication which is being used by 20 users from the finance department.If you don't have the proper CMDB in place, you will not be aware of the othersoftware running in the server and the relationship with the users. So a normalsoftware installation could lead to a disaster and create a huge businessimpact. Hence it is very important to know the relationship between andamong CIs.15

ConclusionMany may not be aware of the CMDB or it might not be viewed as priority toimplement now, however it is important to get most out of the CMDB in asimplistic manner. CMDB is the heart of ITIL, which controls every otherprocess and aligns them appropriately. As discussed, follow the three simplerules: forget the complexities, define your CIs properly with just businesscritical assets and get clear visibility on the relationships between CIs – tomaximize your business efficiency.16

About ServiceDesk PlusServiceDesk Plus is the flagship product of ManageEngine. ServiceDesk Plusiscompletely web- based IT help desk software with integrated assetmanagement module. It is built with state- of the art ITIL functionality includingIncident Management, Problem Management, Change Management,Release Management, Service Catalog and CMDB. It comes with differenteditions catering to end users needs. ServiceDesk Plus is also now availablein the on-demand SAAS model.Website: www.servicedeskplus.comOnline Demo: in ServiceDesk PlusServiceDesk Plus provides complete visibility on your network to understandthe assets in your environment and provides complete control to makechanges on a regular basis. ServiceDesk Plus's CMDB functionality maintainsinformation about all CIs, including their attributes and relationships with whichyou can deliver the IT services.Easy to configure & deploy17

Get visibility and control over your attributes & dependenciesMaximize the service availability.18

ServiceDesk PlusEditionsStandard Professional EnterpriseStandard All Purpose Help Desk SoftwareSupportSelf-Service PortalSLA ManagementBusiness RulesReportsProfessional IT Help Desk Asset ManagementInventory ManagementSoftware Asset ManagementPurchase ManagementContract ManagementSoftware License ComplianceEnterprise ITIL Ready Help Desk SoftwareIncident ManagementProblem ManagementChange ManagementCMDBService Catalog19

Aboutthe author

Arvind Parthiban has over 6 years of experience in ITSM and ITIL and hasdemonstrated expertise in worldwide service desk implementations andconsulting. As a highly skilled trainer and consultant, Arvind has assistedglobal companies such as DHL Global, Wolters Kluwer, Urban Outfitters, PreCorp USA, Smart Tech CA, Strozz llc, Franklin University and more with theirIT needs.Working currently as Senior Product Consultant and Marketing Manager forManageEngine, he has the opportunity to oversee complete implementationprocesses in various environments and understand the many real-time issuesfaced by IT administrators. Arvind shares his immense knowledge in blogs( In his recent whitepaper “When Reality Hits ITILImplementations,” Arvind insists that it is very important to understand yourenvironment and get the basics in ITIL right before proceeding any further. Youcan reach the author at [email protected] for any queries orfeedback.21


ManageEngine is the leader in low–cost enterprise IT management software.The ManageEngine suite offers enterprise IT management solutions includingNetwork Management, Help Desk & ITIL, Bandwidth Monitoring, ApplicationManagement, Desktop Management, Security Management, PasswordManagement, Active Directory reporting, and a Managed Services platform.ManageEngine products are easy to install, setup and use and offer extensivesupport, consultation, and training. More than 55,000 organizations fromdifferent verticals, industries, and sizes use ManageEngine to take care oftheir IT management needs cost effectively. ManageEngine is a division ofZOHO Corporation. For more information, please 4Acquired ProductsComplex IntegrationsExpensive Business ModelIndependentPoint ProductsLower Price pointsNo IntegrationVendor ViabilityManageEngineManageEngine EnterpriseIT Management Softwareused by over 55,000 customerincluding 3 out of every5 fortune 500 companies.Single VendorIntegrated ValueAffordable Price Point23

IT ManagementPortfolioNetworkServers reEvent Log vent PerfMonitoringAssetManagementITIlServiceDeskSQL . eTrackingExchangeServerFirewall LogAnalyzerPasswordManagementManageEngine is the only IT management vendorfocused on bringing a completeIT management portfolio to the mid-size markets.24

w w w. s e r v i c e d e s k p l u s . c o mw w w. m a n a g e e n g i n e . c o m

Management Database. It is the core process of a successful ITIL implementation. CMDB is a repository of CIs (Configuration Items) that contains pivotal information like relationship, ownership and dependencies of business-critical CIs that directly i