Improve CMDB Accuracy with Enterprise Technology Management

In the world of IT, one glaring reality is that most organizations harbor doubts about the accuracy of their Configuration Management Database (CMDB). The consequences of inaccuracies in technology asset inventory control are far-reaching, encompassing security vulnerabilities, audit failures, compliance shortcomings, and wasteful capital expenditure when replacing unrecovered employee laptops.

Despite our desire for the CMDB to serve as the unassailable ‘single source of truth’ for technology assets, it often falls short, with the accuracy of most CMDBs lingering around the 60% mark.

Why is this the case? In today’s dynamic technology landscape, complexity reigns as a formidable challenge, rendering the task of maintaining accurate CMDBs increasingly demanding.

CMDBs were conceived in an era dominated by client/server computing when on-premises data centers held sway. But that era is long gone, replaced by the age of cloud virtualization, the wasted spend on unused SaaS licenses, the proliferation of technology management tools storing inconsistent data on the same assets, and the paramount concern of cybersecurity.

Of course, the CMDB is the epicenter of the Service Management world, primarily aimed at enhancing the efficiency of IT Service Management (ITSM) processes. However, it’s vital to acknowledge that configuration management is distinct from IT asset management.

 

IT Asset Management (ITAM) helps manage an organization’s technology assets throughout their lifecycle. It entails maintaining an accurate inventory and monitoring changes, including location adjustments, ownership transfers, and proper end-of-life disposal. These assets encompass a wide spectrum, from endpoints to SaaS and on-premises applications, security software, and networks.

Many organizations contend with a multitude of assets, numbering in the thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands. One Fortune 200 company has 40,000 employee-issued laptops alone. This sheer volume necessitates tracking numerous interdependencies within a Configuration Management Database (CMDB). While it’s common for nearly all Configuration Items (CIs) in a CMDB to also be monitored in an ITAM tool, not all technology assets need to be tracked in an ITAM tool.

Take, for example, three typical assets: a network router, an office desktop computer, and a keyboard accessory.

  • A network router stands as a pivotal component in an organization’s network infrastructure, directing traffic, ensuring connectivity, and managing network configurations. Alterations to the router’s settings can have widespread effects on network performance and security. Consequently, it’s imperative to track the router’s configuration details, firmware updates, and any changes made to it within a CMDB to maintain network stability and security.
  • An office desktop computer serves as a standard end-user device. However, changes to a single desktop generally have localized impacts, not significantly affecting the organization’s broader IT infrastructure. As a result, tracking every asset associated with individual desktop computers in a CMDB may be redundant, as these assets don’t significantly influence IT configurations, dependencies, or network-wide changes.

  • In contrast, a keyboard typically lacks interdependencies, making CMDB tracking unnecessary.

However, all three categories of assets warrant tracking by an ITAM tool.

In the contemporary era of cloud computing, SaaS, and mobile technology, the IT landscape has undergone transformative changes since the inception of the CMDB. To keep CMDB asset data accurate, IT organizations often embark on extensive projects to reconfigure the CMDB and align it with the evolving technology landscape. These projects entail prolonged development cycles, often extending over several months to a few years, and result in custom code that the IT organization is on the hook for continued maintenance and support.

In essence, the objective is to make a configuration management database function as an asset technology database. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to recognize that these are effectively two distinct databases, each designed to support different use cases.

Figure 1: ETM Application Architecture

Here’s where Enterprise Technology management built with Modern Technology Asset Management (TAM) capabilities enters the scene (see Figure 1).

It’s crucial to note that the CMDB remains an essential database for running businesses, particularly concerning its role in supporting the service management world. What is needed is an ETM application with modern technology asset management to step in to enhance CMDB accuracy without the need for protracted development cycles.

Legacy ITAM solutions concentrate on asset counting and tracking, which, on its own, falls short of substantially improving CMDB accuracy. In contrast, modern technology asset management provides a comprehensive view of an organization’s entire technology asset portfolio. Modern TAM equips organizations with the necessary components to automate manual tasks within IT processes, delivering accurate, real-time data on the status, performance, and security of the complete technology asset portfolio.

The outcome? Modern Technology Asset Management streamlines a significant portion of manual efforts and ticketing related to common IT processes. It simultaneously enhances a company’s security posture and reduces overall costs.

The precise data integrated into a Modern TAM solution is then leveraged to refine the accuracy of CMDB data. The result: IT organizations can place their trust in CMDBs without embarking on lengthy and costly IT projects. As ETM applications should be deployed using an agentless architecture, leveraging existing technology management agents, companies should be able to deploy CMDB Enrichment services using standardized application workflows in days and weeks, not months and years. With workflow automation in place, the ETM application will also continuously maintain CMDB accuracy.

What’s even more compelling is that, in a way, deploying Modern Technology Asset Management essentially makes companies money when you consider the potential savings and return on investment. For example, one company saved $600,000 annually by increasing their endpoint recovery rate from 50% to 98% with Oomnitza’s technology asset management capability built into their ETM application.

The cost savings don’t stop there, as another customer reduced their annual SaaS expenditure by 27% by identifying and mitigating unused licenses. Yet another achieved annual savings of over $300K by enhancing IT productivity through automation, eliminating manual tasks. Moreover, one customer managed to reduce the risk of human error and the risk of costly rework by 70%.

So, if you’re responsible for a CMDB, take a closer look at how modern technology asset management from an ETM application can be seamlessly deployed to enhance CMDB accuracy, reduce security vulnerabilities, minimize audit and compliance risks, and, at the same time, contribute to cost reduction.

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