by Amitav Biswas

CMDB ITIL- What is it?
CMDB ITIL stands for Configuration Management database according to ITIL framework. The CMDB, according to ITIL( Information Technology Infrasctructure Library), is basically a repository, or a database that stores and manages the CIs, in other words, the 'configuration items' throughout their service lifecycle.It immediately leads to the basic question: what is a CI, or the configuration item? The CIs generally comprise all the assets and the service components which require to be managed, or controlled, in order to deliver IT services.

Apart from promising clear visibility into the CIs and their relationships, a robust CMDB enables a range of direct and indirect advantages. Definitely, it leads to advanced change Control and governance with significant reduction of risks. It provides a wider framework for improved security and regulatory compliance with real-time asset planning and monitoring. A system of well-managed CIs also subtantially facilitates incident/problem resolution. In addition to setting foundation for ITIL best practices, it solidifies and promotes a high level of planning and execution in respect to IT application management, and accelerates the governance of SOA initiatives.

CMDB ITIL- What's in it?

A typical CI, or the configuration item can be construed as any IT service,hardware, software,formal documentation or SLA. The CIs, apart from being tracked or managed, are subject to Change Management another integral primary process in the ITIL framework.
One imporatant question emerges: should the CMDB ITIL repository include all conceivable configuration items?
The answer is negative.According to ITIL,the items should pass a set of agreed selection criteria and should be identified,grouped and assorted in such a manner so that they are manageable, controllable and traceable throughout their life cycle stages.

CMDB ITIL - How organized?

The CMDB ITIL is organized and managed by a process-driven system, often referred to as the Configuration Management System(CMS), which constitutes an important pillar of the ITSM(Information Technology Service Management) system. The CMS has multiple layers - data sources and tools,information integration, knowledge processing and integration.The CMS captures the salient arrtibutes and features of the tracked CIs in the CMDB ITIL in a designated format - which enables standard classification and identification - and it records CI relationships. For example, a Service CI will include the vendor details, its cost, Service level contract details, license information with renewal dead-line and others.Also, it stores its relationship between all service components like change management, incidents, problems, known errors and others.

CMDB ITIL - Single or multiple?

The ITIL v3 version talks about having multiple CMDBs, which all connect to a single integrated or core CMDB. Many organizations also resort to automated processes to load and update CMDB by running discovery tools, inventory or audit tools.These tools often are used to populate an instance of an alternative CMDB, and then to subsequently compare and reconcile the existing information in CMS with the actual live configuration discovered . Such comparison also empowers the IT organizations to trap any unauthorized, or unmanaged change,that might have sneaked through the change management loopholes and take remedial steps.A key success factor in implementing a CMDB ITIL is the ability to automatically discover information about the CIs via auto-discovery tool and track changes as they happen.

One needs to keep in mind that CMDB is not just an isolated and independent respository encompassing the CIs with their attributes, features, hierarchy and relationships.Its fedreation and itegration with the other integral processes of the ITIL framework - like Change Management, Incident and Probem Management,Request Management,SLAs,Service Desk - enables it with the symbiotic living energy to work as the robust backbone of an efficient ITSM system.

CMDB ITIL- What is Federated CMDB?

Another interesting area under development is around the thoughtspace 'Federated CMDB'. The vision of federated CMDB emerged from the challenge of configuring common specification for sharing configuration data all over the organization.There is a looming concern about the operative
sustainablity and successful perpetuity of what we define as pure 'CMDB', primarily because of its mono-structured all encapsulating all-in-one model, which is susceptible to failure.So the ITIL pundits think, this limitation can be overcome by a federated approach.In federated CMDB, multiple disparate data repositories, where different data providers participate, are collborated through a standard provider interface. It enables reconciliation and integration of different scattered information about the same configutaion items.This functionality includes partitions for multiple "snapshot" versions, reconciliation of data from multiple sources .In other words, a federated CMDB embraces a multi-repository multi-layred extendable framework of the configuration items.