I got a proposition from one of my customers. They wanted to have a single database containing asset and configuration details. In other words, they wanted to merge the asset database (ADB) and the configuration management database (CMDB).
It is said that databases must be the single source of truth. So, is the merger of these two databases leading to having a single source of truth? Let’s discuss.
A CMDB is a repository consisting of configuration items (CIs), along with its relationship. Normally CIs constitute the hardware, software and network elements of IT services. Examples include servers, routers, applications etc. Changes to the CIs are controlled by the change management process. As you know it, the change management process is pretty elaborate with plenty of scrutiny and approvals.
An ADB on the other hand is a repository consisting of all the assets – including the laptops, desktops, servers etc. The main purpose of an ADB is to account for all the assets, and tag it to individuals -> line of business, so that notional charging can be brought into the fore. You do not need the normal change management process to control the changes to the ADB, as it would be an overkill to manage end user assets using it. In some ways, you can also reflect on the fact that since servers and routers are a part of the ADB, CMDB is a subset of ADB, so we can have a single database. This may be true, but the parameters, and the level of control depends. So, in my opinion, it is not prudent to have a single database covering both the CIs and the assets.
In all probability, you want to keep CMDB elite, keep it separate, and withhold the access to make changes to a select few, or to tools for automatic modifications. Errors or mismanaged changes in the ADB is OK, it won’t threaten the organization with dire consequences, but the same cannot be said of the CMDB. An error in the CMDB could lead to incorrect changes, troubleshooting of incidents, and perhaps the entire service could be jeopardy. The CMDB serves as the foundation of IT services, therefore, it must be brought outside the purview of the ADB.