In large enterprises where ITIL is an acronym that doesn't need explaining, you'll often find IT pros arguing the merits of a configuration management database (CMDB) to track and manage technology assets. Forrester analyst Glenn O'Donnell argues that while tracking configurations is vital, the CMDB approach is far too limited for modern IT.
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Leaving aside the mixed results many practitioners have experienced with CMDB implementations, one key element of O'Donnell's argument is that it's not possible or sensible to store all this information in a single database:
Every time (every time!) someone attempted to build out a comprehensive, large-scale CMDB as a monolithic database (the vast majority of attempts), it failed. I’ve seen this play out hundreds of times and I myself made this mistake eons ago. The right approach is a federated model of data repositories scattered across your environment. The data is already there in many cases, so why try to force this into a single monster-sized database. Abandon any illusion that a single database will work!
He also notes that a lack of automation, lack of integration with service catalogues and a configuration-only approach also mean CMDB implementations are often too limited.
Forrester is pushing to use the term Service Information System (SIS) as an alternative. Whether this will catch on is unclear, but whatever the label, the approach needs refining. The full post is definitely worth a read.
Death To CMDB! Long Live The Dream! [Forrester]