CMDB as the NIMS

By | October 14, 2010

CMDB is an IT acronym for Configuration Management Database. Basically, it is a database that holds the IT “assets” called CIs. (Configuration Items). Every resource that is managed by the IT department can be a CI candidate. These CIs can point to logical or physical infrastructure items. For example, an application is a typical logical CI , while a PC is a physical one.

CMDB is structured in a hierarchical manner. CIs include other CIs etc. Applications run on machines, customers use applications.. In the CMDB terminology CIs can be connected to each other via several role types such as depends, includes etc.

The main reason why I started this post is to elaborate if the CMDBs can be “re-used” as an NIMS (Network Inventory Management Systems).

All of the telecom operators have IT departments and most of those invested in CMDB systems. These CMDBs hold the data for the users, PC’s, routers , switches, all the CIs that the IT department needs. Can this investment be reused to include the network data?

Well, there will be some administrative problems as CMDB is owned by the IT and IT manager will not want to share it. Suppose that we somehow overcame this issue. We now have to think about the technical feasibility of the solution.

Looking from the scalability perspective, I can surely say that CMDBs can handle thousands of CIs and their relationships without any problem. Most CMDB vendors (IBM, HP etc.) will give you clues about the scalability of their products.

Passing this first concern, we come to the second one: Can we model the network inside the CMDB? For me yes! Let me give you an example of how can it be achieved.

Suppose we are selling a SDH VC-12 data service. This VC-12 low-order circuit that starts from SDH node A will end at node B. On its way it will be transported over several high-order VC4s that are running on physical STM-1, 4, 16 circuits. Can this be modelled inside CMDB? Definitely yes. The same hierarchy can be structured in the CMDB. On the top of this SDH link I can bind router ports. And again bind those to routers. I can even model cities as CIs and put those routers under them.

This approach , for sure, will bring lots of system integration and development effort. However, if your infrastructe is not very complex, this can be a more cost effective solution than going with a COTS NIMS product.

One thought on “CMDB as the NIMS

  1. Sreedhar

    Good to read your blog after a long time. Informative one!

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