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Nancy Louisnord | June 02, 2022

CMDB vs Asset Management: Here’s the Difference

At first glance, configuration management database (CMDB) and IT asset management (ITAM) software seem extremely similar. It’s somewhat like the experience of being asked the difference between off-white and eggshell – to some, the similarities are so minuscule that there appears to be no difference. However, knowing what each term means and encompasses individually can help you gain better control over all of your IT assets and infrastructure, setting you up for a successful AIOps experience, and ensuring that your data is correct for a smoother incident management process.

In this post, we’ll cover the definitions of CMDB vs asset management and how they fit into the lifecycle of the IT infrastructure.


What is Asset Management 

IT asset management details where each IT asset – from hardware to software – stands in its respective lifecycle. In this context, an asset is anything that has financial value to the enterprise.

Asset management (according to Wikipedia) “…refers to a systematic approach to the governance and realization of value from the things that a group or entity is responsible for, over their whole life cycles. It may apply both to tangible assets and to intangible assets.”

In other words, ITAM addresses the following: What assets are you out of? What do those assets cost? Are your warranties intact?

The main function of a comprehensive asset management tool is the tracking of software, hardware, licensing compliance, and license expiration. These should be integrated with your ITSM and ITOM strategy. If you don’t know when a software license is set to expire it may lapse and negatively impact users in multiple departments within the organization. This downtime can amount to thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Picture a remote employee who has been sent a computer and has moved several times during the course of their employment. Knowing the location of the device (current address of the remote employee) will help when it comes time to send a replacement. To go one step further, imagine this same remote employee also has a company-issued monitor, keyboard, and mouse. If this employee leaves the company and these assets haven't been tracked with an effective ITAM solution, you risk losing those devices.

Note: ITAM is not the same thing as AIOps, which looks at all infrastructure endpoints to effectively predict downtime and alert the service desk of any incidents that may spread and impact other users. However, ITAM is a critical piece of the puzzle because it provides the AIOps solution with the data points to pull for analysis.

What is CMDB and how does it differ from Asset Management 

Think of the CMDB as the warehouse of all data that is needed for IT asset management. The CMDB contains multiple assets as configuration items, rather than functioning as a simple catalog. The configuration item (CI) is any object needed to provide any service, both in and outside of IT.

CMDB serves as the rules being applied to the assets within the ITAM solution. This tells the organization the financial value of each asset and its impact on other factors. As a result, this is not a static database, but rather something that evolves in today’s cloud-first environment.

An ITAM tool with a configuration management database (CMDB) defines the relationship between assets in order to represent any IT service, taking what was once raw data and applying rules to it in order to create better analysis functions. The CMDB also contains intangible assets, such as services and configuration items (CIs), and links them to physical assets, such as hardware and software, which are then connected to service delivery processes. For this reason, ITAM and CMDB together are essential in managing IT service delivery across all IT processes, whereas IT asset management is more concerned with the lifecycle of each device or software.

Benefits of CMDB vs. Asset Management

  • Greater visibility into all IT assets including those which are intangible and otherwise hard to describe and convey the impact to the greater service delivery strategy
  • Faster reporting using the CMBD and ITAM tool, managers can pull financial information on every asset with the touch of a button to manage cost and chargeback.
  • Understanding of current asset utilization including maintenance, and overall cost
  • Decrease administrative costs while improving service
  • Cleaner data can be used by the AIOps tool to analyze both internal and external infrastructure

The reality is, without both the asset lifecycle and the rules applied to each asset, you will quickly find yourself with missing data. This missing data could lead to incorrect decisions in the change management process and can negatively impact the end-user.

Consider the same remote employee from earlier who has a laptop and moves around the country. Keeping track of her computer is important, yes. But that isn’t the only piece of the puzzle. Making sure that the proper rules are applied to connect her software and hardware will ensure that everything is linked and running properly and that potential issues can be corrected. (Bonus points if you correct the problem through a remote support solution that won’t interrupt her workflow!)

Benefits of CMDB vs. Asset Management

IT asset management vs. CMDB are important to understand, but they are only part of the greater overall picture. They must be included in your IT Service Management strategy in order to bring the highest possible ROI and prove the most useful.

To learn about how EasyVista can help you with these key integrations, talk to a member of our team today. 

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Nancy Louisnord

Nancy Louisnord is the Chief Marketing Officer of EasyVista, responsible for the company’s global and regional marketing programs and product marketing strategy. She has more than 14 years of global leadership experience in the ITSM software industry, bringing numerous software companies into new markets. She is a sought-after presenter at conferences and contributor to several leading industry publications. Before joining EasyVista, Louisnord served in leadership roles with TOPdesk and Daffodil Consulting. In addition to her expansive experience in the B2B software industry, she has a proven record of creating and executing digital marketing strategies and improving the customer service experience.