What is a CMDB ?


Explore CMDB: its role in ITSM, its advantages, and how it compares to ITAM and EAM. Improve decision making with CMDB.

CMDB illustration
CMDB illustration


Matthieu BONNARD

Matthieu Bonnard


Read time

5 mn




A Configuration Management Database (CMDB) serves as a fundamental tool in IT service management (ITSM). CMDB is essentially the DNA of an organization's IT infrastructure, built to store a wide range of Configuration Items (CIs), essentially every important element in your IT environment. CIs can range from hardware devices, installed software applications, network settings, or even employees or business processes. The primary function of a CMDB is to maintain information related to each of these CIs and their interrelationships, providing an integrated view of your IT services, operations, and their relationships in the organization.

Characteristics of a CMDB

A robust and effective CMDB is characterized by the following traits:

1. Contains Comprehensive Information: A good CMDB is like a vast reservoir of data containing detailed, up-to-date information of every CI, including its current status, historical data, related documentation, and details of each interaction within the system.

2. Maintains Relationship Information: A CMDB doesn't just store information but also understands the complexity of the relationships that bind your enterprise together. This relationship mapping can provide valuable insights into understanding the potential impact of a change on interdependent services.

3. Supports Other ITSM Processes: A successful CMDB is not standalone; it supports other ITSM processes. This includes incident management, problem management, and change management processes, providing the backbone data these processes need to operate effectively.

Advantages of a CMDB

Implementing a CMDB in your organizations provides a multitude of benefits:

1. Better Decision Making: With the detailed and comprehensive info a CMDB provides, IT managers can make better-informed decisions. Be it determining the life cycle of an application, planning an upgrade, understanding the impact of an outage, or enumerating licenses for a software audit, a CMDB aids in effective decision-making.

2. Optimized IT Processes: Having a unified source of reliable, asset-related data enormously helps streamline and optimize various IT operations. It aids response to incidents, compliance, budgeting, procurement, and more, thereby enhancing the overall operational efficiency.

3. Risk Reduction: Altering IT services involves risk, but a thorough CMDB helps mitigate these risks. How? By providing precise and detailed information about the dependencies, managers can predict the possible impact of alterations and thus help reduce the associated risk.

Disadvantages of a CMDB

However, a CMDB is not without a couple of challenges. The major one is the effort required to implement and maintain its data. Without careful on-going administration, keeping CMDB data accurate and up-to-date could be a challenge. Outdated or erroneous information in CMDB can lead to poor decision-making.


IT Asset Management (ITAM) and CMDB are often mistaken as the same thing, but they are distinct. ITAM focuses on managing an organization's IT assets throughout their lifecycles for a financial perspective. Meanwhile, CMDB focuses on IT infrastructure and its related components and their relationships, providing a holistic view necessary for efficient IT management.


Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) is a broader concept that encompasses all the assets of an entire organization while focusing on maximizing asset service delivery and lifespan. On the other hand, a CMDB is distinctively tailored to cater to the requirements of ITSM, offering a detailed interactive view of IT infrastructure assets and their relationships within the ITSM context.

In conclusion, the decision to implement a CMDB should be grounded in a solid understanding of what it can offer and how it aligns with an organization's goals. Even with challenges, a meticulously implemented and maintained CMDB can leverage ITSM by improving decisions, optimizing processes, and reducing risks.

Smarter way to map your applications

Smarter way to map your applications