How Does Software Development Fit in with ITIL's Configuration Management Database?

How does software development fit with your ITIL CMDB? ITIL® has long been recognized as the de facto industry standard for IT service management and the adoption of ITIL has been growing rapidly across the world. IT Service Management (ITSM) derives enormous benefits from a best practice approach. Change management and configuration management are core practices at the heart of ITIL and ISO/IEC 20000, the auditing standard that is aligned with ITIL.

Many organizations or groups who develop software consider themselves outside the scope of ITIL, considering it something that is only relevant to IT operations and support groups. This was perhaps understandable with ITIL V2, and yet we believe it is no longer the case with ITIL V3. We shall address this in more detail below. This article focuses on a subset of ITIL processes and in particular the CMDB/CMS.

Misunderstandings and Evolution of the Term CMDB
In ITIL V2, the term CMDB was often misunderstood.  Its definition: “A database that contains all relevant details of each CI and details of the important relationships between CIs”. This lead many people to think of it as a single database in which everything should be stored that related to Configuration Items.

It was never the intention of the ITIL authors that the CMDB should be defined as a single physical thing.  It is a logical concept that is implemented via a number of physical systems (that in many cases already existed) that could be termed “CMDBs”.

Many vendors should share in the blame, in that they saw a tremendous market opportunity, and rather over hyped the particular capabilities of their CMDB solution(s).

One of the key problems with defining a usable CMDB is being very clear as to what results you want to get out of it. What information do you actually need to be able to better plan and manage the services your organization provides?


Figure 1
Figure 1 - What data do you need in your CMDB? Upgrading a server means you need to know all of its interfaces and usages as well. Source: David Cuthbertson, Square Mile Systems


About the author

Brad Appleton's picture Brad Appleton

Brad Appleton is a software CM/ALM solution architect and lean/agile development champion at a large telecommunications company. Currently he helps projects and teams adopt and apply lean/agile development and CM/ALM practices and tools. He is coauthor of the book Software Configuration Management Patterns, a columnist for the CMCrossroads and AgileConnection communities at,  and a former section editor for The C++ Report. You can read Brad's blog at

About the author

Steve Berczuk's picture Steve Berczuk

Steve Berczuk is a Principal Engineer and Scrum Master at Fitbit. The author of Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration, he is a recognized expert in software configuration management and agile software development. Steve is passionate about helping teams work effectively to produce quality software. He has an M.S. in operations research from Stanford University and an S.B. in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and is a certified, practicing ScrumMaster. Contact Steve at or visit and follow his blog at

About the author

Robert Cowham's picture Robert Cowham

Robert Cowham has long been interested in software configuration management while retaining the attitude of a generalist with experience and skills in many aspects of software development. A regular presenter at conferences, he authored the Agile SCM column within the CM Journal together with Brad Appleton and Steve Berczuk. His day job is as Services Director for Square Mile Systems whose main focus is on skills and techniques for infrastructure configuration management and DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) - applying configuration management principles to hardware documentation and implementation as well as mapping ITIL services to the underlying layers.

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