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BMC industry insights

Step-by-Step Approach for Building and Managing

Widespread adoption of the IT Infrastructure
Library® (ITIL ® ) and other best-practice and
control frameworks is motivating a growing
number of enterprises to implement a con-
figuration management database (CMDB).
A CMDB is the core database that “powers”
the configuration management system (CMS),
introduced in ITIL Version 3 (V3). The CMS
is the foundation that supports a complete
service lifecycle across IT. (ITIL definitions
for the CMS, CMDB, and configuration items
(CIs) are included at the end of this article.)
Stage I Stage II Stage III Stage IV Stage V
Some IT organizations have already made Assemble the team Define requirements Select solution Construct and Drive ongoing
Define the project Create a blueprint and tools maintain the CMDB value
great progress and are starting to see
substantial returns. Still, some companies
Figure 1. Five stages for building and managing a CMDB
hesitate to get a CMDB project underway
because of the level of effort involved. How­
ever, our five-stage approach, summarized benefits, and the tasks required to build it. In Step 3, your team creates and agrees on
in Figure 1, can help you organize your efforts This upfront investment eliminates confusion the goals and mission. At this time, the
so you can build a comprehensive CMDB and increases your ability to clearly describe team should start to identify the measure-
with minimum risk and maximum reward. the reasons for pursuing the project. ments used to judge how the goals will be
Each stage is broken down into smaller achieved. To do this, the team needs to
steps that are simple to understand and
straightforward to complete.
Stage I Stage III
Assemble the Team and Define the Project Select Your Solution and Tools
Figure 2 provides a high-level checklist to
1. Assemble the project team 1. Select CMDB solution
guide you through the stages and steps.
2. Obtain CMDB knowledge 2. Plan CMDB population
3. Establish goals and mission 3. Select tools to automate population
Stage I 4. Review and define benefits 4. Calculate project ROI
Assemble the Team and Define the Project 5. Build a business case
Stage I involves forming a team, scoping the
Stage II Stage IV
project, gathering input, and getting funding
Define Requirements and Create a Blueprint Construct and Maintain the CMDB
and approval. Your first step in this stage is
1. Identify and review governance requirements 1. Construct the CMDB
to assemble the team. As you do this, keep
2. Review and select supporting best practices 2. Create CI lifecycle management processes
in mind that success comes from engaging 3. Identify requirements to address potential problems 3. Build supporting processes
all key constituents and affected IT functions 4. Identify inventory and asset requirements 4. Populate the CMDB
in the project. The right team members will 5. Define service catalog requirements 5. Train CMDB team and users
increase your probability of success. 6. Define CMDB requirements to support other processes
7. Define CI level and IT service model
Stage V
8. Define CI relationships Drive Ongoing Value
Step 2 is about education, that is, bringing
9. Define CI attributes 1. Implement measures and metrics
team members up to speed on all aspects
10. Design IT service model blueprint 2. Create a service improvement program
of a CMDB — its structure, terminology,
scope, relationships with other IT processes, Figure 2. Checklist for building a CMDB
review the current environment and 2. Review and select supporting 8. Define CI relationships. Identify
problems to be solved, and develop best practices. Start with the IT the specific CI relationship data that
a statement of the goals and mission processes that you have targeted you will maintain in the CMDB.
for the project. This effort is critical for improvement through access 9. Define CI attributes. Define which
to getting the project approved. to a CMDB, and then identify best CI attributes will reside in the
practices that these IT processes CMDB, and which will reside in
The goal of Step 4 is to define project can use. federated data stores.
benefits and communicate them in 3. Identify requirements to address 10. Design the IT service model
terms of key business metrics and potential problems. If there have blueprint. Construct the blueprint
measures. An important part of this been previous CMDB projects, using the requirements you have
step is gathering detailed information identify problems encountered and identified for the service catalog,
that will help you build a business case turn lessons learned into project the IT business processes, and the
and estimate ROI for the project. requirements. This effort can help IT service model design.
you avoid many potential imple-
Finally, in Step 5, you use the output mentation and support issues.
of the first four steps to build a solid Stage III
4. Identify inventory and asset Select Your Solution and Tools
business case that gains the buy-in
requirements. Pinpoint how Stage III completes the planning pro-
and approval of key constituents, the
inventory and asset management cess and technology selection so that
project executive board, and the over-
requirements will affect the project. you can move ahead with building,
all project sponsor. A logical, simple
Keep in mind that while asset, populating, and deploying your CMDB.
business case works best for winning
inventory, and configuration Step 1 for this stage is evaluating
approval over other projects request-
management are similar, they are available solutions with respect to
ing scarce resources.
different enough to warrant your requirements, selecting a CMDB
specific requirements. solution and supporting technologies
Stage II
Define Requirements and Create 5. Define service catalog require- that align with those requirements,
a Blueprint ments. Identify requirements that and procuring the solution and tools.
During Stage II, you document the specify how the service catalog will
requirements that will drive the selec- leverage the relationships between During Step 2, you plan how to popu-
tion of a CMDB solution and guide you services and the underlying CIs. late the CMDB, including federation
in the implementation. In this stage, Understanding which CIs relate strategy and mapping CIs to data
you work with key stakeholders to to a particular service enables sources. You’ll also need to document
document and obtain approval on their you to better meet service level business rules that enable automated
subset of requirements. These stake- agreements and allows you to handling of precedence, reconciliation,
holders are the process owners of conduct service-based costing. and normalization. This is essential
IT functions that will leverage the 6. Define CMDB requirements to to populating the CMDB initially and
CMDB, as well as those responsible support other processes. Turn IT maintaining ongoing data accuracy.
for compliance and IT asset manage- process touchpoints with other IT
ment. You also capture CI-level functions into specific require- In Step 3, you identify and purchase
requirements that specify what CI ments. Make sure the require- additional discovery and automation
relationships the CMDB will maintain. ments reflect how other groups will tools to facilitate CMDB population.
interact with the CMDB, and A broad range of tools is available
There are ten steps in this stage: incorporate any special needs to help automate CMDB data
these groups have. management.
1. Identify and review governance
requirements. Focus on identifying 7. Define CI level and IT service
Finally, in Step 4, you use data collected
governance and regulatory compli- model. Define the optimum level
from the previous steps to create a
ance efforts that you want to improve for CIs to help determine the ove­rall
financial analysis of the expected costs,
with the CMDB project, and breadth and depth of the structure
benefits, and ROI. This information
document the CMDB requirements. of your CMDB data model.
will guide the project implementation Stage V
team as you move into Stage IV. Drive Ongoing Value ITIL V3 Definitions
The final stage of your CMDB project
Stage IV Configuration Management System (CMS):
is about continual service improvement.
Construct and Maintain the CMDB In the first step, you implement metrics
“A set of tools and databases that are
With the first three stages behind you, used to manage an IT service provider’s
that enable effective ongoing manage-
you’re ready to construct your CMDB configuration data. The CMS also includes
ment of CMDB-related processes. You
and build CI lifecycle management information about incidents, problems,
identify metrics that support the overall
processes and CMDB supporting known errors, changes, and releases, and
goals of the project, as well as metrics
processes. Step 1 involves installing may contain data about employees, suppliers,
that help the CMDB manager and CI
CMDB hardware, software, and locations, business units, customers, and
owners with the ongoing management
supporting technologies to make users. The CMS includes tools for collecting,
and update of the CMDB.
your plans a reality. You will also storing, managing, updating, and presenting
need to determine your federation data about all configuration items and their
Step 2 calls for following a service
strategy so that you can identify relationships. The CMS is maintained by
improvement program that focuses
and establish integration points to configuration management and is used
on a narrow set of key metrics and
federated data stores. by all IT service management processes.”1
related targets. If met, these key
metrics will ensure that the CMDB
With installation complete, you pro- Configuration Management Database
continues to have quality data and that
ceed to Step 2, creating CI lifecycle (CMDB): “A database used to store configu-
it will deliver the key benefits that were
management processes. This step ration records throughout their lifecycle.
expected when the overall project
establishes processes for adding new The Configuration Management System
business case was approved.
CIs and updating CI data throughout maintains one or more CMDBs, and each
the CI lifecycle. You define a lifecycle A Final Thought CMDB stores attributes of CIs and relation-
plan for each CI type and then docu- ships with other CIs.”2
CMDB technologies have matured
ment how you will perform and control in recent years, and companies are
each part of the plan. Configuration Item (CI): “Any component
beginning to realize numerous benefits
that needs to be managed in order to deliver
from a fully functional CMDB. These
In Step 3, you document the processes an IT service. Information about each CI
benefits, along with the wider adoption
required to support and manage the is recorded in a configuration record within
of ITIL V3, will motivate many more
CMDB. Any flaws in current processes the configuration management system and
companies to implement CMDBs.
must be eliminated, and any new pro- is maintained throughout its lifecycle by
The CMDB is the key component
cesses must be built and documented. configuration management.
of the ITIL V3 CMS — a central logical
system that covers the data, integration,
Now you’re ready for Step 4, capturing “CIs are under the control of change man-
knowledge, and presentation layers.
the CIs along with their associated agement. CIs typically include IT services,
Many IT organizations have the CMS
attributes and relationships. Populating hardware, software, buildings, people, and
elements already, but they have it
the CMDB includes federating data formal documentation such as process
without the combination of an inte­
stores, gathering data, and reconciling documentation and SLAs.”3
grated system.
data. At the end of this step, your
CMDB is ready to use. The experiences of companies that
have already put a CMDB in place
Last, but not least, Step 5 is about shows that a staged approach works
training the CMDB team and users. best. By breaking down the overall
Training is critical for ongoing manage- CMDB construction process into
ment and maintenance of the CMDB. achievable component parts, you can
Training also encourages wide adop- make rapid progress while ensuring
tion, which will result in faster ROI. that you end up with a solution that
provides visibility into how the IT infra-
structure relates to business services.
BMC industry insights

By following the lifecycle approach outlined About BMC Software

in ITIL V3, you ensure that IT integrates with BMC Software delivers the solutions IT
the business to derive business benefits. The needs to increase business value through
resulting CMDB solution will empower your better management of technology and IT
IT staff to make business-savvy decisions processes. Our industry-leading Business
that move the enterprise forward. Service Management solutions help you
reduce cost, lower risk of business disrup-
For a copy of BMC Software’s in-depth tion, and benefit from an IT infrastructure
Step-by-Step Guide to Building a CMDB, built to support business growth and flexibil-
visit ity. Only BMC provides best-practice IT
processes, automated technology manage-
End Notes ment, and award-winning BMC Atrium
1 ITIL® V3 Glossary V3.1.24, 11 May 2007,
technologies that offer a shared view into
ITIL_Glossary_V3_1_24.pdf. See Configuration how IT services support business priorities.
Management System. Known for enterprise solutions that span
2 Ibid. See Configuration Management Database. mainframe, distributed systems, and end-
3 Ibid. See Configuration Item. user devices, BMC also delivers solutions
that address the unique challenges of the
midsized business. Founded in 1980, BMC
has offices worldwide and fiscal 2008 reve-
nues of $1.73 billion. Activate your business
with the power of IT.

Ken Turbitt, President and CEO, Service

Management Consultancy (SMCG) Ltd.,
and Atwell Williams, Solutions Architect,
CTO Office, BMC Software, contributed
to this article.

To learn more about how BMC can help activate your business, visit or call (800) 841-2031.
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