A Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is used to keep track of the different parts of an IT environment. Generally, CMDBs are convenient for modeling potential changes in IT, identifying where problems are occurring within an IT environment, and providing transparency for a company's system in case of audits or legal issues. A CMDB is like a big map of an IT environment and there are many things to consider when building the database. For more information, you can read our previous blog post on How a CMDB is Helpful.
Sit down with your team and figure out what the CMDB will keep track of, who will use the database, and how. Establishing expectations for your CMDB before building it is a good way to start deciding what specifically will go into it.
Take stock of what tools you have for managing your CMDB. Some maintenance will be done automatically, so decide what tools are best to use and obtain any that you do not already have.
Create the content of your CMDB in the form of configuration items (CIs) and define how the CIs relate to each other. There must be reliable data sources that information comes from, but avoid flooding the CMDB with too much data by focusing on what is actually needed and not adding information just because you have it.
Look over your CIs and make sure they are specific and can be added to the CMDB. Fill the database with the CIs using an automated process that will import and synchronize information for you. Changes to the CMDB should only be done by authorized administrative staff and some changes will need to be made manually.
Perform an initial audit and schedule continuing ones to ensure that the CMDB remains accurate and up to date. These regular audits are essential to maintaining any CMDB and need to be done within the company.
CMDBs can be very helpful in organizing data that pertains to an IT environment, particularly a large one. Looking at a CMDB can tell you which server is down and what processes are interrupted by that crash, or even help target areas of an IT system that are continuously problematic. They are a good way to check out how a change will impact an IT system and keep track of IT practices for external audits that assess legality. As useful as a CMDB can be, it is only as good as its initial foundation and the continuing maintenance performed on it. Clearly define, structure, implement, and maintain all parts of your CMDB, and you will reap all the benefits.