By Shane McDermott, Director of Alliances, iQuate

The pressure is mounting on IT operations and administrators. Now that executives have the cloud at their disposal, and the promise of a new agility in their data centers, they expect to be able to align IT to their strategic business goals much more easily and effectively. All well and good, as long as the IT team can stay on top of the virtualized server estates and CIs (Configuration Items) that facilitate this brave new world.

The CMDB (Configuration Management Database) is the key to success. It’s the central database of IT service management and as long as it’s a repository of accurate and up-to-date information, it can provide the foundation for successfully aligning IT to any number of business activities, from supporting regulatory requirements to a business analytics project.

One of the big benefits of using iQuate’s discovery and dependency mapping solution, iQSonar with ServiceNow’s CMDB – a proposition that more organizations have been introduced to since we received application certification from ServiceNow – is that it gives enterprises the information on their IT infrastructure that matters. Like all the best technology solutions, it imposes best practice on its users, in this case avoiding many of the pitfalls that plague effective CMDB management.

Automatic discovery

First of all, don’t even think about trying to populate the CMDB manually. Modern IT estates are too dynamic and subject to constant change which makes auto-discovery tools essential. But this in itself carries risks.  In a bid to create a more complete inventory some organizations populate the CMDB with every conceivable CI, including desktops, laptops and even smartphones.

Just because auto discovery allows you to capture more CIs more quickly doesn’t mean you should. IT should focus on the most critical items within the server estate that will define business transformation for the organization. Define strategic objectives, roles and precise business sponsorship so that everyone is agreed on what you are trying to achieve, and therefore, what you need to discover.

Fail to do this and you will almost certainly fall foul of “scope creep”, ending up with too much CI data that demands constant updates and is difficult to manage. Concentrate instead on the most critical CIs; particularly those related to server estates that will have the most impact and relevance to your strategic objectives.

Accurate identification

Another important part of the process is the careful identification of CIs that make up the infrastructure, including the type of CI, its relationships, ownership and lifecycle status. Use standard names, unique identifiers and rules-based reconciliation to maintain accuracy in the auto-population process.

Part of this process is agreeing terms on how the CIs are filed and classed – are virtual machines assets, for example, and what operations need to be tracked against them that make them assets? If the data you collect is inaccurate, incomplete, or not validated, you will fail to meet your implementation objectives.

The ultimate aim should be to populate your CMDB with the right kind of data that then allows it to be fed into your AMDB (Asset Management Database). From here it becomes “the single source of truth” that informs a whole range of use cases.

iQSonar is purpose-built for complex data centers with an infrastructure-up approach. It automates the process of collecting in-depth data on compute, storage and network resources. By feeding ServiceNow with accurate and timely CI data, you will take a significant step in making your CMDB work for you, not against you.