How to select the best CMDB discovery technique

How to select the best CMDB discovery technique

Table of Contents

The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is a key part of your IT infrastructure, but it can be difficult to manage. If you don’t have the right methods and tools in place, your CMDB will be incomplete and inaccurate. 

Having an accurate CMDB is essential for effective IT management and efficient troubleshooting when problems arise. CMDB discovery can help you build a robust CMDB with minimal effort.

What is CMDB discovery?

The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) discovery process is all about identifying the hardware and software IT infrastructure components. The CMDB is populated with items referred to as configuration items or CIs. These items have descriptive information associated with them, for example their name, IP address, and version number. 

When you’re working with CMDB asset discovery, it’s important to know that there are many automated techniques for collecting this data.

In recent years, these techniques have advanced significantly to the point where experts consider manual entry a last resort. The automated discovery techniques used in this process enable organizations to capture thousands of CIs from remote targets in minutes or hours instead of weeks or months.

Read: Understanding dependencies between configuration items

Types of CMDB discovery techniques

Enterprise IT systems contain a large number of hardware and software components that have different lifespans and connections, especially with regard to virtual machines, storage volumes, public cloud services, and containers. CMDB discovery techniques are used to identify and track these components.

The major CMDB discovery techniques include:

Type of CMDB discovery Description
Domain Name Service (DNS)A method of identifying the domain name associated with a given IP address by using the IP address as a starting point is known as a reverse DNS lookup. If you want to discover the name of an IP endpoint, a reverse DNS lookup can help.
Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)SNMP is a protocol used to manage network devices and their corresponding management information base (MIB).
Secure Shell (SSH)SSH is a secure way to collect information about the hardware, software and network resources of your Linux or Unix systems. It can be used to remotely log into a remote server, collect inventory details like CPU, memory and disk space, and return that information to your CMDB.
Ping sweepThe ping utility sends an Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) echo request message to a host on the network and waits for an ICMP reply from it. This is useful for determining whether hosts are active on a network, but it does not provide information about the operating system or software versions running on the host.
Network Mapper (NMAP)NMAP can be used to find potential vulnerabilities in your network, as well as providing information about other hosts on the network, such as their hostname, operating system details, and MAC address.
Application Programming Interfaces (API)APIs make it easy for systems to exchange information.API discovery involves using an API to retrieve information about an object by making calls to it. The API call returns an XML file that contains information about the object. This type of CMDB discovery is often used for applications that are hosted on virtual machines or containers.
Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)WMI is a Microsoft Windows service that allows you to interact with the operating system. You can use WMI to query the list of installed software, retrieve hardware information, or even perform remote tasks on your computer.
AgentsIn addition to the standard discovery capabilities, agents can be installed on various OS types that can help collect inventory information that is not available remotely. Agents can also be installed manually or automatically and can run in the background or interactively.
Packet CapturePacket capture can be used to troubleshoot network issues, monitor network traffic, and analyze security threats. It records and analyzes the contents of IP packets transferred across a network. 
NetflowNetflow is a network traffic analysis tool that provides details about how much bandwidth each application used, which IP addresses were involved in a communication, and so on.

Read: How to optimize your CMDB with application dependency mapping

How to select the best CMDB discovery technique

CMDB discovery is the process of identifying and tracking all the devices in your network. It becomes important because you gain knowledge of what you possess, how everything connects, and how to use them.

Selecting the best CMDB discovery technique involves:

1. Identify your current configuration management capabilities

Before selecting a discovery technique, you should know the following:

  • Identify the type of the discovered device (e.g., server, application or network).
  • Identify the type of collected change data (e.g., configuration, inventory or state).
  • Distinguish the type of configuration data collected (e.g., static vs dynamic).

Once you identify these characteristics and their application to your environment, determining the best technique for success in your CMDB project will become much easier for you.

2. Build and update your CMDB with automation

The best way to build a robust CMDB is through automation. You can achieve automation using a CMDB tool, scripts, other tools, or a combination of both.

If you’re using a commercial product for discovery and updating your CMDB data, it’s likely that this product will have some sort of automation functionality built in. It could be as simple as alerting when someone installs new software on one of your machines. You could automatically generate reports from information gathered during discovery runs.

If you’re not using any kind of commercial solution, then building your own scripts could help automate some aspects of building out your infrastructure inventory over time without requiring constant manual intervention from IT staff members who may not have enough time in their day already.

3. Monitor your infrastructure and collect change data

To build an effective CMDB, you must monitor your infrastructure. This includes monitoring systems and services that are critical to the performance of your business. You should also collect change data about these systems and services so that you can use it in building a CMDB.

4. Manage network devices with network auto discovery tools

Network auto discovery tools can help you manage your network devices. The tools will help you build a CMDB by identifying and remediating configuration problems, so that you know what’s happening in the field, where it happens and how to fix it.

The tools can automatically apply software updates and patches as needed. This automation saves time for administrators who would otherwise manually apply them to each device before returning them to service. The latter scenario is especially common with large organizations where resources are scarce—but even small ones may fall prey if they’re not careful.

5. Follow discovery processes for most common types of devices

Once you have determined the type of device, follow the discovery process for that type. For example, if you are trying to discover a server, do the following:

  • Determine whether your network is connected to the device (or not). If so, then proceed with step 2; otherwise skip ahead.
  • Find out if it has an IP address and operating system installed on it using SNMP and WMI respectively.

6. Use software asset management tools to optimize your CMDB

You can use software asset management tools to optimize your CMDB by tracking the software versions and licenses on your networks. Also, you can easily identify updated systems, recognize outdated ones, and determine which need new licenses.

You can also monitor the number of licenses purchased versus the number used with these tools. This critical information lets you identify any unused or unlicensed resources on any network or computer system, such as computers.

Build a robust CMDB with Virima

Auto discovery remains the most efficient method, but only well-planned and designed environments can utilize it effectively. Manual discovery requires more time and effort than auto discovery, but it gives you more flexibility to customize your process based on your organization’s specific needs.

These tools will help you manage your network devices and software assets more efficiently, helping you identify potential problems before they become issues. They also provide valuable information about your infrastructure so that you can make decisions based on facts rather than guesswork or hearsay.

The CMDB discovery process could seem excessively complex, especially when managing multiple cloud platforms and legacy systems. But Virima CMDB provides the tools you need to ascertain good health, connectivity, and optimization of your entire infrastructure for your business goals.

Find out more about Virima Automated Configuration Management Database

At Virima, we believe that a CMDB should be more than just a repository for your data. It should be your guide to managing and understanding your assets, their relationships and interdependencies.

Virima CMDB tool leverages machine-learned relationship and interdependency mapping provided by Virima Visual Impact Display (ViVID). ViVID not only provides a clear visual representation of every asset’s relationships, but when linked to Virima ITSM or supported third-party platforms and NIST’s National Vulnerability Database (NVD), Virima CMDB becomes your go-to place for change planning, incident response, and vulnerability remediation prioritization.

Virima IT Discovery helps you address these challenges by automating CMDB data discovery and maintenance tasks. You can leverage Virima Discovery to populate and maintain your database with accurate data. You can create granular business rules that automate the promotion of CI updates and other CMDB maintenance tasks.

And finally, our product provides automatic two-way synching to leading ITSM platforms like ServiceNow, Jira, Cherwell, and more. Find out more about ViVID, Virima CMDB and Discovery by scheduling a demo now!

Similar Posts