Study Finds CMDBs Can Save Enterprises Big Bucks

An analyst report on the data center configuration product reflects sample customer savings of more than $1 million over 36 months due to improved planning and processes. But watch out: The upfront investment in a configuration management database can be steep.

Enterprises considering investing in a configuration management database may want to read a study released by Forrester Research on July 28 that projects cost savings and ROI involving this product -- the implementation of which can be expensive.
In the interest of full disclosure, the study involved 26 enterprise users of one brand of CMDB, the BMC Software Atrium. However, there aren't that many studies on this topic, so any information on the ROI of CMDBs -- even projected -- can be valuable to those who may be shopping around.
Other vendors in this field include, in alphabetical order, Altiris, Axios Systems, BladeLogic, CA, Cendura, Centrata, Collation, Configuresoft, FireScope, Hewlett-Packard, IBM Tivoli, LANDesk, Managed Objects, Mercury, Micromuse, Microsoft, mValent, Net Watch Solutions, nLayers, Opsware, Peregrine Systems, Relicore, Tideway Systems, Tripwire and Troux Technologies.
A CMDB is a repository of information related to all the components of an IT system. It is used as a central engine for IT managers to configure and manage a data center or IT system. A whole setup can cost in the mid-to-high six figures or more, depending upon the size of the IT structure and because of all the other components that need to be in place that work with the database.
Although repositories similar to CMDBs have been used by IT departments for years, the term CMDB comes from the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), a set of concepts and techniques for managing IT infrastructure, development and operations. In the ITIL context, a CMDB represents the authorized configuration of the significant components of the IT environment.
The key job of a CMDB is to help an organization understand the relationships between these components and track their configuration, leading to optimal performance and better business results.
Not Everybody Impressed with CMDBs
Skeptics say the CMDB concept (a realistic model of an IT infrastructure) cannot be realized in practice and is overrated.
"As with all models, they are a simplification of reality and determining the proper granularity soon becomes a nightmare," said Fred van de Langenberg, a senior SAP Basis Consultant at T-Systems.
The CMDB is a fundamental component of the ITIL framework's Configuration Management process. CMDB deployments often involve integration with other systems, such as asset management systems. These integrations use either a real-time, federated design or an ETL (extraction, transformation and loading) solution.
The "Total Economic Impact" study conducted by Forrester was commissioned by BMC and surveyed 26 of its CMDB customers. Forrester used the input from these companies to create a sample composite organization to describe the potential benefits of the BMC Atrium CMDB, and found cost savings and benefits of about $1.2 million over a 36-month period and a lower level of risk when compared with the pre-implementation environment.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...