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Comparing a CMDB and an ETM Technology Database

As discussed in the blog “Comparing ETM/TDB and ISTM/CMDB", ETM/TDB and ITSM/CMDB solutions were designed to address distinct challenges within a modern IT organization’s set of management tools:

  • ITSM focuses on orchestrating people-centric workflows, such as help desk support, incident resolution, and customer service, relying heavily on service tickets.
  • ETM, in contrast, is specifically engineered to manage and automate technology-centric workflows through pre-packaged applications, aiming to enhance technology data accuracy and automate IT processes across disparate tools and systems.

A key difference between the two lies in their database architecture:

  • ITSM solutions are built around a Configuration Management Database (CMDB).
  • ETM solutions leverage a Technology Database (TDB).

This blog will explore how each database supports the comprehensive and accurate management of a company's technology landscape, a critical aspect for automating IT processes that depend on reliable technology data.

Design Focus

Initially, both the CMDB and TDB were designed to support distinct objectives.

CMDB: Aimed at Business Continuity

The CMDB's architecture is intended to trace dependencies and map relationships between assets, underpinning business continuity. It wasn't designed to act as a comprehensive source of truth for technology assets or to catalog the full spectrum of an organization's technology asset landscape.

TDB: Aimed at Enterprise Technology Management

Conversely, the TDB is crafted to function as a unified source of truth, aiding IT departments in managing the entire technology landscape of an organization throughout its lifecycle, from forecasting to disposal.

Data Model Flexibility

CMDB: Rigid Architecture Around Configuration Items (CIs)

The CMDB is structured around Configuration Items (CIs), designed for mapping relationships but characterized by inflexibility. This rigid structure necessitates custom development to incorporate new technology types or data schemas, such as mobile devices or IoT, into the database. As technology landscapes evolve, the CMDB requires ongoing updates to stay relevant, making the integration of new technologies a time-intensive process that demands substantial development resources.

TDB: Built on a Unified Data Model

In contrast, the TDB's Unified Data Model facilitates easy updates through direct integrations and data hygiene workflows, removing the need for custom coding. Introducing new technology types or fields is straightforward and quick, enhancing the database's adaptability and ease of management.

Technology Emphasis

ITSM: Tickets as the Primary Object

In ITSM solutions, tickets are the core focus, with technology information playing a supporting role. This setup treats technology data more as metadata attached to service tickets, reflecting ITSM's service management orientation.

ETM: Technology as the Primary Object

ETM systems, however, position technology assets at the forefront. The TDB's functionality extends to the comprehensive discovery, aggregation, normalization, and enrichment of technology data, offering a detailed digital twin of an organization's technology inventory.

Technology Evolution Adaptability

CMDB: Designed for a More Static Era

Originally built to provide support for the more stable client-server era of technology, the CMDB struggles to adapt without continuous custom updates, making it less ideal for today's rapidly changing technology environments.

ETM: Designed for the Modern Dynamic Landscape

The ETM's technology database is designed for the modern, ever-evolving technology landscape, eliminating the need for custom updates and thereby supporting ongoing organizational and technological growth.

TDB Purpose-Built to Deliver Technology Data Accuracy

While ITSM and its CMDB excel in managing people-centric workflows and support tasks, they face limitations when it comes to providing the modern IT organization with an accurate and complete view of its technology landscape. On the other hand, this is where a Technology Database – as a foundational component to an ETM solution – shines, purpose-built to provide that single view and source of truth for a business’ technology.

It's important to note however the importance of both solutions deployed in modern IT organizations, helping organizations meet their requirements around business continuity, enhancing technology data accuracy, and supporting the evolving needs of dynamic technology environments.

Curious to learn more? Request a demo of Oomnitza’s ETM solution.

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