Cloud-based Configuration Management

Five reasons why cloud assets should be in configuration management database (CMDB)

Are you planning a move to the cloud, or have you already made the move and now want to make the most of it? No matter which stage you are in, you need the right technology and tools to get going. 

But it is also important to note that the success of your cloud initiatives does not depend solely on the right technology. But also people and process changes. With an accurate, well-maintained Configuration Management Database (CMDB), you can greatly reduce the risks of cloud transition. Also, support your daily operations and maintenance processes. 

What is CMDB, and why is it important for your cloud initiatives?

A CMDB is a record of assets/resources, known as Configuration Items (CIs). The CMDB includes a different set of objects such as stakeholders, documentation, contracts, services, and devices. While the CMDB contains all the important details of the CIs, it is becoming crucial to track the relationships between the CIs in CMDB. Keeping track of the relationships among CIs is vital while performing CMDB compliance reporting, troubleshooting, or risk impact assessment.

Now, when we talk about CIs, it shouldn’t be confused with IT Asset Management (ITAM). The terms may seem interchangeable, but they are concerned with different aspects of the components of your business. 

A CMDB has some distinct characteristics:

  • Compliance features that provide comprehensive records and visibility for auditors into the current state of CIs. Also, to their history, checks and balances, cases, and more.
  • Seamless dashboards with CI analytics make tracking the health of CIs easy, help decipher their relationships, the effect of changes, and patterns that lead to incidents or issues.
  • Support for combined data sets, including standardization and reconciliation of CIs and their data.
  • Access controls with which you can provide different access levels to different people or teams as required.
  • Formation of CIs and timely data population supported three different techniques: manual inputs, discovery tools, and integrations (API-driven, SCCM).

The concept of CMDBs is not new. Businesses have relied on CMDB solutions to support ITIL processes, compliance, incident, problem, and change management, either as a part of their IT Service Management suite or as a standalone product. With CMDB cloud CIs becoming dominant, updating and periodic discovery of CMDBs remain somewhat of a challenge and yet its importance cannot be written away.

Here are five reasons why you should have CMDB for cloud assets.

CMDBs and change management

Change Management is concerned with mitigating the risk to the IT services that support your business. Therefore, it only makes sense that an accurate risk assessment must involve knowledge of other IT components (CIs) related to the one affected by the change. With a CMDB to perform an impact analysis of a change against the infrastructure, you don’t have to depend on manual, error-prone reports and spreadsheets.

As consumers are moving to the cloud for its ability to scale quickly as per business demands, it is becoming vital to implement Change Management in the cloud as well. Executing Change Management in the cloud using processes and tools can greatly diminish service interruptions, especially those related to Configuration Management. While it is important to define the right processes for Change Management in the cloud, it is just as important to use the right tools for managing IT infrastructure and applications on the cloud.

Public cloud providers have identified various tools for Change and Configuration Management on the cloud. These tools are useful in capturing information like cloud resources being used at present, what has changed, how the relationships between cloud resources have shifted, and so on.

CMDBs and incident management

An incident occurs when something unforeseen happens that affects your IT operations. An Incident Management plan decides how your IT operations team responds to an incident. Looking properly at the data available is crucial to determine the cause of any incident. To find out the circumstances that point to a CI failure or an issue affecting services such as an unexpected spike in server demand or uneven temperature conditions in a server room, it is vital to have an accurate CMDB. Sometimes, there is a failure to properly manage the asset lifecycle that could lead to an asset going out of service, disrupting related operations. With accurate, real-time data, your team can save precious time in finding a quick resolution.

With more and more business operations moving to the cloud, a CMDB in the modern business world is vital for Incident Management and must be maintained by a mature, well-understood change enablement practice in multi-cloud and hybrid environments. 

But the challenge involves manually updating the CMDB every time. Today, the only possible way to maintain state and configuration data to support precise, real-time decision-making is through automation. It is important to integrate modern and legacy tools for resolving these issues.  With an ITIL-compliant CMDB like Virima that leverages Virima IT Discovery to populate and maintain the database with accurate data, you can ensure that your CMDB is always up-to-date with little or no manual intervention. This will also enable your IT operations staff to focus on augmenting and improving infrastructure for reliability and performance, instead of sifting through dashboards and data to make sense of the situation. 

CMDBs and problem management

For the longest time, problem managers have relied on dependency data and change data to help them diagnose the root cause of issues. With cloud services, the dependency remains on the two, but the data now needs to be accurate and in real-time. Traditional CMDBs in ITSM are useful for integration and larger issues, but the cloud-admin tools equip you with the details required for modern Problem Management.

A cloud-based CMDB can help with root cause analysis in Problem Management, helping teams get to the bottom of a problem quickly. It also supports active problem management by helping teams detect assets that need upgrading to reduce service costs and unscheduled downtime.

(See, The Challenges of Implementing ITIL Problem Management)

Compliance reporting made easy with CMDBs

With a healthy and well-maintained CMDB, looking for and preparing audit data for historical configurations being made to infrastructure becomes easier. With a fully populated and managed CMDB, you can streamline and automate control tests for compliance, removing the need for manual intensive time and effort to conduct control testing and collect data into a spreadsheet. By keeping the CMDB updated and accurate, you can ensure that your asset information is more reliable for IT auditing and compliance reporting.

Impact analysis with CMDBs and cloud assets

An impact analysis is created with the results identified by the impact analysis engine. The impact analysis engine navigates the CMDB and finds the CIs that are anticipated to experience outages because of target CI outages. Usually, the engine does this by using user-configured rules that are based on CI relationships. The impact analysis engine identifies all the CIs that are impacted. However, sometimes it also identifies the CIs that are not relevant, and therefore, you need a system that looks only for key CIs. When you identify key CI results, it becomes easier to determine which CI outages are affecting your business and helps you make better scheduling and risk decisions.

Make better, fact-based decisions with Virima for Cloud assets in CMDB

With a reliable and well-managed CMDB, you can use, run, operate optimally, and gain comprehensive visibility of your operations. Virima helps you take out the guesswork from your ITAM, ITSM, and ITOM by providing complete and accurate data, every time. 

Connect with the CMDB specialists at Virima to find out about all that you can do with CMDB and cloud assets.

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