A configuration management database (CMDB) is a database of the relationships between all hardware and software components used in an organization's IT services. A CMDB provides an organised view of configuration data and a means of querying and tracking that data.
The importance of tracking and understanding the information within the IT environment increases as IT systems become more complex. The use of CMDBs is a best practice for IT teams to identify and verify each component of their infrastructure to better manage and improve it.
Components within the CMDB are known as configuration items (CI). A CI can be any IT component, including software, hardware, documentation, resources and staff, and any dependencies between them. The processes of configuration management seek to specify, control and track CIs and any changes made to them in a comprehensive and systematic fashion.
The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices standards include specifications for configuration management. According to ITIL specifications, the four major tasks of configuration management are:
CMDBs capture attributes of the CIs, including CI importance, CI ownership and CI identification code. A CMDB also provides details about the relationships (dependencies) between CIs, which is a powerful tool if used correctly. As a business enters more CIs into the system, the CMDB becomes a stronger resource to predict changes within the organization. For example, if an outage occurs, IT can understand through the CI data who or which systems will be affected.