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The benefits of a custom CMDB for IT asset management

Configuration management databases (CMDB) are beneficial for any organization that uses IT services. It helps IT departments improve coordination and productivity while reducing security risks by consolidating data about their IT infrastructure. The problem is that many organizations do not realize their potential benefits in time and cannot maximize their investment. Only 25% of organizations get meaningful value out of their CMDB investments.

To circumvent this issue, you must customize your CMDB to fit your organization’s needs. It is the key to managing IT resources more efficiently. Moreover, a well-designed and implemented CMDB is the backbone of robust IT management in any organization.

Today’s global IT organization is data-dependent and solution-oriented. This makes it essential for businesses to implement a CMDB to coordinate the management of their active and inactive assets, their connections, and the relationships between them.

This article will explain what a CMDB is, how it works and why customization might be necessary for your organization.

Benefits of CMDB customization for IT teams

Through customization, you get the most out of your CMDB, which allows you to meet your business, IT, and security needs. The standard format is sufficient for some companies or organizations, but you may want to customize your configuration management database so it better fits with yours.

Here are a few benefits of customizing your CMDB:

Reduced risk of human error and improved consistency across the organization

Many organizations spend millions of dollars on various tools and approaches but still struggle with inconsistent data and information silos. The root cause is that they have failed to take a customized approach to their CMDB implementation

A customized approach means considering both your current state and your desired future state when designing your CMDB solution. Otherwise, you may end up with an expensive tool that does not meet your needs. 

When you customize, you reduce the risk of human error as organized systems are in place. In turn, this also improves consistency within your systems—ensuring that everything works efficiently.

Improved efficiency through automation and streamlined processes

It is essential to consider how your CMDB can be customized to address specific organizational requirements. Customizing your CMDB will help you improve efficiency through automation and streamlined processes. It allows you to set up more complex workflows, create new roles, add new fields and attributes, modify existing objects, create new objects, and more. You can use it as a reference tool for other applications too. 

For example, suppose you have a ticketing system that tracks issues with applications. In that case, the CMDB can provide quick access to information about those applications and their dependencies on other assets and systems. That way, when an issue is reported, all the relevant information is available immediately without having to search through multiple tools or databases.

Ultimately, standardization helps your IT teams work more efficiently—increasing overall organizational productivity.

Understand your IT environment and identify areas for improvement

A CMDB also helps you manage your IT environment more efficiently by providing a single point of reference for all information related to your IT infrastructure. It includes asset configuration details such as software versions, application dependencies, and hardware specifications. It also lets you keep track of the location and current state of each asset—whether it is being used or not—so that you can quickly resolve problems when they arise.

When implemented correctly, a CMDB can help automate many routine IT tasks, including change management processes such as software updates and patches. You can also share knowledge about what is happening in your organization and find points for improvement as and when an opportunity shows itself.

Easier to integrate with other systems and applications

A CMDB can make managing the relationships between IT assets and their dependencies easier. By tracking the dependencies, you can quickly determine whether an outage or other problem is related to internal assets or external issues.

If it is customized by adding fields that describe the relationships and dependencies between different systems, it becomes easier to track everything in one place.

CMDB best practices for customization

You need to think about several things before customizing your CMDB. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of this process:

Do not include all your data within the CMDB

The CMDB is a vital tool for IT service management (ITSM) teams to coordinate the delivery of IT services. However, the CMDB needs to be filled with relevant data, which is one of the main reasons ITSM teams struggle to fill it up effectively.

This issue can be attributed to two main reasons: overplanning and lack of focus.

The first reason is that IT teams often populate their CMDBs with all the data they have about their configuration items (CIs) without considering if it is relevant in the first place. They assume that the data might be needed in the future—turning it into a storage tool—not a management tool. This impacts the data quality, further impacting your ability to make the most of it. 

The second reason is that it is difficult to distinguish between what is and is not essential when you look at your system landscape from a zoomed out perspective. You might need a filter or abstraction layer to help you see things more clearly before filling up your CMDB with relevant information.

An image of Virima's CMDB dashboard that gives you a bird's eye view of all your assets and their data

Consolidated overview of all your assets within Virima’s visual CMDB

Choose a CMDB that has an intuitive user interface

The user interface (UI) of the CMDB is often not considered when choosing one can create problems further down the road. A key factor IT teams need to consider when selecting a CMDB is how easy it is to customize and update. The more complicated the interface is, the less likely users will want to use it. You also have to consider that even non-technical users will use it for internal tasks in the future.

So, to ensure your CMDB is practical, choose one with an intuitive user interface to add information without making mistakes. It should also be easy to modify the CIs so that the data is always up-to-date. Otherwise, you will waste precious time figuring out how things work or doing unnecessary tasks over time.

Virima offers a customizable CMDB dashboard that allows you to make changes based on your internal workflows. You can include many asset categories and monitor the number of assets by blueprint, and location, identify recently updated CIs and monitor migration status and software inventory.

An image of Virima's CMDB dashboard that offers all relevant information in one place

Virima’s customizable CMDB dashboard

Use automated tools for device discovery and CMDB population

Too often, IT teams fall short on IT coordination because they need a complete view of their assets and business services. Without a complete view, it is impossible to coordinate effectively.

That is why you should choose a CMDB tool that integrates with automated discovery to improve data accuracy. It helps ensure you have accurate data without adding more effort or resources to their team. It also makes sense because automated discovery tools can discover devices from different IT environments like on-premise infrastructure, cloud, or hybrid environments. 

An image of the automation feature included within Virima's CMDB that allows you to set up automated rules to popualte the CMDB as per your preferences

Set up pre-defined automation rules to populate your CMDB using Virima

Automating your CMDB can ensure that the data is accurate without adding more effort. It also makes sure that your organization is audit-ready at all times.

Define roles and assign ownership to each CI item within the database

While CMDB implementation is important, maintenance is another process IT teams need to consider. For example, if a new server is added to the network and not added to the CMDB, it will be impossible to manage that server effectively.

A common problem with CMDBs is that they are often left without ownership and proper maintenance. Without ownership, it is hard to keep track of changes in your environment. Plus, without adequate maintenance, it will quickly become outdated. 

The best way to ensure that your CMDB stays up-to-date is by assigning owners for each configuration item (CI). These owners should be responsible for maintaining and updating the CMDB data, and they act as the point of contact if any issues arise.

Deploy a consistent tagging policy for the CI items

IT departments are constantly inundated with new technology, making it difficult to keep track of the inventory of devices and software. It can lead to problems like duplicate assets, missing patches, and outdated operating systems.

Many IT teams tag their configuration items to track their assets more efficiently. Tags are key-value pairs that help you classify your CIs into logical categories based on common characteristics such as department, location, or owner. It helps ensure that you have an accurate inventory of all your assets and know where each item is located at any given time. 

A common approach is to assign tags based on the departments within an organization, for example, development, quality assurance, production, etc. Another option is assigning tags based on ownership. For example, application developers, infrastructure owners, etc. Using consistent tagging policies across your organization is vital so everyone understands what these tags mean and how they should be applied consistently.

Ensure your CMDB integrates with cloud platforms for easy CI discovery

A customizable CMDB can help IT teams to manage the assets across different tools, including service desk platforms, asset management systems, and monitoring software.

When populating the CI records in the existing CMDB, the IT resources record format can be different compared to the existing CMDB schema. This feature becomes an issue as it can result in duplicate CIs, incomplete CI data, and in some cases, missing CIs.

IT teams should choose a CMDB tool that integrates with other assets like service desks, cloud services, and more. When such integrations are available, mapping the CMDB schema with the tags/categories in the corresponding tool becomes easier. It removes any extra effort on your part to standardize the data—helping you focus on verifying the data instead of manually collecting it.

A list of all the sample integrations that Virima offers at the moment

A list of sample integrations Virima’s platform offers at the moment

Customize your CMDB to make the most out of your investment

All in all, the configuration management database is a valuable tool that can help you to improve coordination and productivity. Whether your company needs it or not depends on the size of your organization and its complexity. 

The more complex your company is, the more likely you will find benefits from implementing and customizing the CMDB to fit your needs better. If you want to improve coordination and productivity in your organization, consider adding one to your IT toolkit.If you are looking for a customizable CMDB that fits within your organizational workflows, book a demo with Virima today.

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