Explore All Blog Posts

Comparing ETM/TDB and ITSM/CMDB

Modern IT organizations are commonly confronted by two persistent challenges: the ongoing use of manual processes within IT and the need for comprehensive, accurate data about their complete technology environment. These issues pose significant barriers to achieving a more autonomous IT operation.

In response, many IT organizations have embraced IT Service Management (ITSM) and Configuration Management Database (CMDB) systems, with subsequent integration of IT Asset Management (ITAM) capabilities. In addition, they have initiated projects to create custom solutions on the ITSM platform, aiming to automate key processes, such as employee onboarding and offboarding. However, this approach leads to two fundamental questions:

  • Custom Development to Automate IT Processes: Is running software development projects to build custom solutions to automate common IT processes the best use of an IT organization’s limited staff of IT resources?
  • Database to Manage Technology: Is a CMDB the best database architecture for an organization to use to manage all its technology with the objective to have accurate and complete data regarding a company’s entire technology portfolio?

The custom development required with ITSM projects is widely recognized as a significant challenge. It demands considerable investment from IT departments in terms of resources, time, and finances. Typically, creating a custom solution stretches over several months or even years. After completing what is often a taxing project, the IT team is then tasked with the continuous support, updating, and enhancement of the necessary technologies to preserve the custom solution’s functionality.

Moreover, the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) was not originally designed to manage an organization's entire array of technology, a reality that IT faces in the current landscape. Emerging from the ITIL frameworks, the CMDB's initial purpose was to assist in IT service management by cataloging essential configuration items (CIs) for the delivery of IT services. The main goal of the CMDB was to ensure business continuity, not to oversee an organization's comprehensive technology ecosystem.

In response to these gaps, Enterprise Technology Management (ETM) applications have arisen built on a Technology Database (TDB), offering an alternative to automate IT operations based on more accurate technology data.

However, a common question arises during discussions about ETM: Do ITSM/CMDB solutions compete with ETM/TDB solutions? The answer varies by use case.

Different but complementary design centers

Within the modern IT framework, ITSM/CMDB and ETM serve distinct purposes to meet an organization's IT needs.

ITSM: Orchestrating People-Centric Workflows

ITSM is specifically designed to improve the IT services delivered to an organization's end users. Its primary focus is on managing people-centric workflows, which encompass help desk operations, incident resolution, and customer support. These workflows depend heavily on service tickets that often require manual intervention.

ETM: Orchestrating and Automating Technology-Centric Workflows

Conversely, ETM aims to provide technology data accuracy and automate IT processes across the myriad of tools and systems essential for running a modern business. Designed from the outset for orchestrating and automating technology-centric workflows, ETM includes pre-packaged workflow applications tailored for use cases like improving technology data hygiene, preparing for IT audits, adhering to compliance requirements, identifying security vulnerabilities, enhancing user experiences, and optimizing IT expenditure.

ETM facilitates process automation by enabling users to configure workflows via a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, as opposed to undertaking software development projects to build custom solutions, which is often the case with ITSM platform automation.

An ETM solution also includes a Technology Database (TDB) purpose-built to discover, aggregate, normalize and enrich technology data to essentially provide a complete and accurate digital twin representation of a company’s entire technology portfolio.

Moreover, ETM solutions are inherently designed to offer precise and comprehensive insights into an organization's entire technology portfolio. In contrast, achieving similar technology data visibility with an ITSM/CMDB solution frequently involves substantial effort to essentially reconstruct a CMDB to include comparable capabilities to an ETM Technology Database.

Therefore, if an IT organization needs to improve the accuracy of their technology data and automate processes that require trusted technology data, then it would do well to consider an ETM solution purpose-built to address this need.

Complementary Use Case

That said, the ITSM and ETM design centers are complementary, with both solving a fundamental use case within the modern IT organization:

  • An ETM application leverages an ITSM platform when human interaction/actions/ approvals are required, sending requests to the ITSM platform to spawn or update the status of relevant tickets.
  • An ITSM deployment benefits from an ETM application deployed in an organization’s environment as the ETM’s technology database can be used to improve technology data accuracy and completeness of data stored in the CMDB.

ETM offers an alternative to ITSM/CMDB for data accuracy and automation

Enterprises in need of automating their technology management processes—with objectives such as enhancing technology visibility, improving inventory controls, ensuring IT audit readiness, adhering to compliance, bolstering security, and elevating user experience, all while optimizing budget allocations—may consider employing an ITSM platform. However, automating IT processes via ITSM platforms often entails significant challenges:

  • Development Demands: Automating IT processes with ITSM platforms necessitates development resources to construct custom solutions and integrations. These must be continuously supported and updated by the organization.
  • Process Complexity: The reliance on custom solutions quickly becomes a burdensome process, hindering or delaying organizations from adopting future releases, thus causing them to fall behind and become trapped in a release cycle.
  • Resource Allocation: The extensive duration of these projects diverts valuable resources away from other IT projects and business initiatives, substantially increasing the total cost of ownership for a customized ITSM solution.

These challenges are notably absent when deploying an ETM application to automate IT processes.

Consequently, while IT Service Management (ITSM) platforms, such as ServiceNow, are renowned for their robust service delivery and ticketing functionalities, ETM solutions have emerged as a complementary alternative when it comes fulfilling the modern enterprise's requirements for IT process automation and comprehensive technology management.

Curious to learn more? Request a demo and see ETM in action for yourself.

Recent Related Stories

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…
Read More
Build Versus Buy Automation with ITSM versus ETM from Oomnitza
At a high-level, Oomnitza’s ETM solution and ITSM/CMDB platforms provide complementary value to the business as they were designed to…
Read More
Trust Your CMDB with Enterprise Technology Management
It's no secret that most IT organizations lack confidence in the accuracy of their Configuration Management Database (CMDB). Inaccurate control…
Read More