At the heart of an ideal IT operations management (ITOM) suite, a configuration management database (CMDB) exists to maintain the single source of truth concerning all pieces of the IT environment that affect service delivery. Enterprise architects are often faced with the dilemma of where to locate and how to populate a CMDB as part of an IT infrastructure library (ITIL) framework project. Several methods for maintaining a CMDB exist, ranging from dedicated discovery software to integrations with applications feeding it information about the configuration items (CIs) under their watch — all of which must then get reconciled into a condensed set of records. A modern IT infrastructure monitoring (ITIM) solution will contain valuable information for a CMDB, yet the overlap is not a one-for-one match. CMDBs are focused on asset management and providing a single location for these assets across a swath of other applications, while an ITIM solution is focused on the real-time relationships of these assets in addition to the relationships of the components within and across assets.
CMDB and Basic Business Services
Consider a basic business service (e.g., an e-commerce site) from the perspective of the CMDB. While knowledge of a few of the underlying components may be known by the CMDB via manual entry or periodic discovery, the relationships are not maintained in real time and are likely obsolete within days or even minutes.
Now, consider the same business service from the perspective of the entire IT infrastructure model — seeded by a CMDB and completed with an ITIM solution. Note that the underlying components and their relationships (physical, virtual and logical) are mapped and maintained in real time, allowing for a detailed view of the entire infrastructure stack. When the model and CMDB are combined, root-cause analysis is now available at the deepest levels of the infrastructure stack, providing optimal mean time to resolution (MTTR).
As mentioned in previous posts (here and here), Zenoss integrates with several CMDBs, and the ServiceNow integration is one of the most popular combinations for IT organizations wanting best-of-breed monitoring with reliable service management. Zenoss can track CIs and their lower-level components in real time as they are changing — often many times per minute or even per second. Many organizations use the CMDB as the starting point for an ITIM solution, using the CMDB to seed the infrastructure elements that need to be monitored. Having this operational perspective of the CMDB provides a more holistic view of the IT infrastructure model and the services built on top of it.