We start a new series of videos on our JDisc Youtube channel on different use cases, where discovery plays an integral role. These videos should serve as a source of inspiration of how important it is to know what you got in an IT environment, the so called IT asset management.
We begin with a video on the interplay between discovery and a CMDB.
CMDB projects fail or fail to meet expectations because of missing automation. Discovery and integration of discovery into a CMDB is a vital prerequisite for getting up-to-date configuration items (CI) and good data quality. In this video we show how a discovery tool fits into the ITSM landscape and how it is used to provide the most important part of the CMDB object model and how CMDB and Discovery cooperate for the better.
Other topics to follow will be about how to use discovery in:
- Security process, monitoring and operational security
- Software license management and compliance
- Cloud discovery
- How to use the new API
- Data center migration
- Monitoring concept
These videos are not marketing material for JDisc Discovery but are educational material focusing on the use case, not on the tool. That in the end JDisc Discovery is probably the best tool to meet the requirements set by the use case is in the end the decision of the viewer.
CMDB in ITSM
IT Service Management (ITSM) is a set of practices, policies and procedures for delivering services whereas ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) is a framework for implementing these practices in enterprises. Among the service management processes, the ITIL framework defines the area of service asset management and IT asset management. IT discovery can be grouped into IT asset management, where assets are found, identified, classified and managed (created, updated, removed etc.).
A CMDB is a tool that is part of the service configuration management process, that is tightly related to IT asset management as a lower-level activity. ITIL configuration management is about managing the life cycle of configuration items (CIs). As such a CMDB is a core component of an environment that tries to implement ITIL service management as it contains the CIs that form the basis of all other ITSM processes. Therefore a CMDB must be working efficiently and provide data of high quality.
That is also why CMDB projects fail or fail to meet their expectations. When efforts to maintain CIs up-to-date skyrocket or data is always out-of-date and inconsistent, functional departments move away from using the CMDB and all goals that the ITSM processes should have reached, are not.
So when data quality and accuracy is so important, how can one ensure this quality? One answer, apart form organizational measures, is automation. CIs must be identified, created and updated automatically using a IT discovery tool. Such as tool can be integrated into the CMDB but often a CMDB can either be good at service management processes or good a discovery, but not both. A best-of-breed approach can be superior, where a dedicated discovery tool provides as a the specialist for IT asset management the asset information and identification and the CMDB concentrates on the aggregation and consistency among its data sources and the configuration management processes.
See also the list of ITSM, CMDB and Service Desk Partners of JDisc: https://www.jdisc.com/de/partner.html
Also the CMDB must serve as the single source of truth, where tools and personal goes to lookup information about CIs. As such the CMDB also usually offers IT documentation functionality and interfaces for other tools such as IT monitoring solutions. On the other hand multiple discovery solutions feed it with IT assets from the different environments of a enterprise. There could be installations of a discovery solution in the enterprise IT, cloud environments, DMZ or branch office environments that all collect their data locally and then push it to the central CMDB for ingesting.
The CMDB will be used by helpdesk personel and IT management staff, whereas experts for different areas like discovery itself but also monitoring or security etc. might want to use the discovery tool interfaces directly.
CMDB Object Model
A CMDB has a pretty generic extensible and flexbile object model as it needs to collect all kinds of CIs and use it for different ITIL processes. As such it has very different needs than a discovery tool. Dicovery needs to have a very exact and specific data model with lots of details and a rich set of relations that can be found in the real world. This precise data model is the basis of its high data quality where no information is lost on the way from the real environment to the users of the system, such as a CMDB.
The data model of a discovery tool is therefore very firm and specific capturing entities and relations of systems, network elements, file systems, processes on the one hand but also relations on a higher level such as network connections between processes, ports, protocols, users etc.
The difference between the CMDB object model and the discovery data model is not a problem, rather a feature. They complement each other like the tools themselves.
One and probably one of the best such discovery tools is JDisc Discovery as it specializes in IT asset discovery and tries to do the best job possible in this area and does not try to have one’s cake and eat it too. JDisc focuses on very high data quality so that the discovery data model nicely maps into a CMDB object model not just regarding entities but pre-qualified relations between the different entities. Assets are already clearly identified and normalized in the discovery process, which avoids having to reconcile data after importing into a CMDB, which would be a very hard task to do.
Also JDisc provides all the functionality for experts to directly work with the discovery data such as comparisons, mass operations, reporting and graphical views with powerful filtering. Furthermore, open export formats and interfaces allow other tools to make use of the collected and securely stored discovery data.
This makes JDisc Discover the perfect companion to a CMDB and one of the supporting tools to make a ITSM process work.