Many of those who are new to ITIL and ITSM will often ask what’s the difference between CMDB and asset management. At first glance, they seem to be the same thing, like deodorant and antiperspirant. But if you go a little deeper you will learn that although they are very similar, they are indeed two very different aspects of IT management.
The CMDB is the central hub or virtual warehouse that manages and maintains configuration items (CIs). Asset management only keeps track of the assets that affect the business and its financials. The CMDB stores all of the CIs and their attributes, while IT asset management only focuses on key CIs.
1. The Primary User
When you learn why CMDB matters, IT management begins to take on a slightly different look. A CMDB is generally used and accessed by an IT technician or analyst. The CMDB deals with each and every CI because it is a system rather than a process, like IT asset management.
Asset management on the other hand is primarily managed by an asset manager, someone who keeps a detailed inventory of assets and uses that information to guide IT purchases and redistribution. IT managers can use information regarding configuration relationships to properly assess maintenance issues and create solutions.
2. Asset Life Cycle
A CMDB doesn’t track an asset from the moment it is acquired to the time it is disposed of as asset management does. This includes its acquisition, commission, operation, and disposition. The CMDB is the database that houses data that is discoverable without monitoring their processes specifically.
That is what IT asset management is for, to be mainly concerned with the financial value of assets. Asset management is a controlling process. It also supports ITSM processes like incident management and request fulfillment. It can collect asset-specific data through different methods, like RFID.
3. The Financial Component
IT asset management is an integral part of the procurement system because its focus is on how assets impact business and finances, things like contracts, value, inventory, and warranties. Asset management focuses on managing assets throughout their life cycles.
This information is neatly organized and can easily be compiled into reports for stakeholders, accountants, and more. It is quite valuable as a business service, while also providing value to multiple departments, not just the IT department.
The two are very closely related. The CMDB is the warehouse that holds all of the data and asset management is a vendor that only concerns itself with specific data. Which one you choose depends on the needs of your business.
You may even need both to achieve the best results. Some things, like cloud service applications, are considered to be both an asset and a CI. It’s better to think of them as two branches belonging to the same tree. Relationships are necessary to inform and define the services that can help your organization make the most out of its CMDB.