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Background

ITIL defines a CMDB as a database used to store and manage configuration records through their lifecycle.  When I began working on CMDB, the first thought that struck me was “Why do we need a CMDB?”

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I found this video by Doug Mueller helpful in providing  me with answers:

http://www.bmc.com/videos/user-submitted/what-is-purpose-of-cmdb.html

 

I find it the most simplest and concise explanation.

He quotes “CMDB is just a database. It by itself doesn’t do anything in your environment. It is an enabling technology. CMDB is four things:

  1. Things in your environment
  2. Relationship between those things
  3. Business entities(processes and services )
  4. Impact

  CMDB’s role is to bring data from around the environment into a single master repository. Its purpose is to provide visibility, to be able to understand your environment”.

The Remedyforce CMDB Explorer is one of the tools leveraging the CMDB and that provides enhanced visibility in your environment to accurately perform impact analysis, root cause analysis and much more.

 

The Story

In order to understand the capabilities of the CMDB Explorer, let me share a short story. One fine evening I was shopping in a multi-storied mall on a busy festival weekend. I chose some nice t-shirts and stood in the queue for billing. Now the billing section had two separate computers and two separate queues for billing. Suddenly, one of the computers stopped working. Now both the queues got merged into a very long single queue.

As the waiting time increased, customers became grumpy .  Frustrated, some of them even returned the selected items. It took a while for the billing staff  to notice what was going on and the IT manager was summoned. The IT manager, in his desperation to resolve the situation, sent  few of the staff members to check on each floor for an available computer . This entire process consumed a lot of valuable time until they realized that they have a unused backup machine which could resolve the problem.

 

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The situation was finally brought under control, but the retail store lost out on some sales and also on customer service!  Now imagine a retail giant which has hundreds of billing machines, then the situation could have been much more worse. Now lets replay this story when the IT manager has added all configuration items to the Remedyforce CMDB.

When the computer goes down,  the IT manager creates  an Incident and associates the “Billing Service” to this Incident .On launching the CMDB Explorer he knows about all the billing machines, including the backup machine, capable of delivering the billing service . This is just one of the many use cases in which the Remedyforce  CMDB Explorer , in a matter of few seconds,  would have provided the IT manager with vital information to make key decisions.

The figure below shows how this case is shown on the Remedyforce CMDB Explorer.

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Top 3 capabilities of the new  Remedyforce CMDB Explorer

In Spring 15 release, a powerful and feature rich CMDB Explorer was provided based on HTML5 and Javascript technology. In Summer 15 release, the CMDB Explorer was enhanced to display assets along with CIs.

Here are the top 3 powerful features in the new CMDB Explorer.


    1. View Linked Details

          All capabilities available on CI instance form now available on CMDB Explorer

 

      • Link/unlink Incidents
      • Link/unlink Clients
      • Link/unlink Service Requests
      • Link/unlink Change requests
      • Link/unlink Problems
      • Link/unlink Releases
      • Link/unlink Tasks
      • Link/unlink Knowledge Articles
      • Link/unlink Documentation
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Fig. Linked Details Section of Billing Service instance

 

    2. Filter instances

 

    • By CI/Asset/All instances
    • By relationship types
    • By custom relationship types
    • By layouts to get the best possible view

 

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Fig. Diagram filtered by custom relationship type “Backup”


    3. Impact Analysis


        Run impact Analysis on any CI or asset by clicking on Analyze Impact button. Impact Analysis lets you identify which devices and applications in the network are affected if you take a specific CI or service offline. In our case if you run Impact Analysis on "Billing Computer -1” instance, you will see 'Billing Service' in the impacted list as shown in the diagram below. In order to see this you should have configured the relationship between them as

 

                                            Billing Computer -1----Source-Destination----> Billing Service


and set  Yes in the HasImpact field.

 

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Fig. Impact Analysis done on “Billing Computer -1” Instance

 

 

What is not shown?

Indirect relationships are not shown. Consider there are 3 instances related to each other with two different  relationships:


Instance1 ----relationship1----> Instance2 ----relationship2----> Instance3


Now, if you launch CMDB Explorer for Instance1 and filter on relationship type of relationship2 only, then the relationship2 is not shown because the immediate connection of Instance1 is with Instance2 with relationship type relationship1.

The following snapshots are an example of such a scenario. Here, the instances are related as:


Billing Computer ----Source-Destination----> Billing Service---Service-Subservice---> Bill Printing Services

 

The CMDB Explorer is launched from Billing Computer (CI).

 

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Filter by “All Relationships”

 

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Filter by “Service-Subservice”



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Filter by “Source-Destination” and “Service-Subservice”

 

To summarize, you can think of CMDB as a vast ocean. As the ocean is home to many fishes, plants, and animals, the CMDB is  home to many  CIs ,Assets and Services and how these entities are related to each other. The IT manager and the Service Desk Staff are the sailors and the CMDB Explorer is like a powerful compass that the sailors can use to navigate through their ITSM journey. Good luck to the sailors!