What are Configuration Item (CI), CMDB, CMS and DML? | ITIL ITSM

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Understanding Service Asset, CI, CMDB, CMS, DML in ITIL:

Before Learning about the ITIL Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) process of IT Service Management (ITSM), you first need to have a clear understanding of what ITIL V3 says about the "Service Assets", "Configuration Items (CIs)", "Configuration Management Database (CMDB)", "Configuration Management System (CMS)", And "Definitive Media Library (DML)".

Though these things are quite different from each other, still all of them are defined under the SACM process. Here, within this chapter, you will learn what is Service Assets in ITIL, What is Configuration Item in ITIL (CI in ITIL), What is Configuration Management Database (ITIL CMDB), What is Configuration Management System (ITIL CMS), and What is Definitive Media Library (ITIL DML)?

Learning-Tips-mod-blue-35Special Note:
This is the 1st part of the lesson on Configuration Management. This article contains important concepts & terms you must know in order to understand the 2nd part. Link to the 2nd part is Here.

What are Service Assets in IT Service Management (ITSM)? 

According to ITIL v3, Service Assets are any resources or capabilities that could contribute to the delivery of services.

For Example, a service asset may be a piece of software, a physical server, a virtual server, a router, an application license, any information stored in a service management system, some knowledge base, and even any information stored in mind of people.

What is Configuration Items (CIs) in ITIL? 

ITIL v3 describes Configuration Item (CI) as a subset of service asset that has a direct impact on service delivery and needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT service.

In ITIL, Configuration Items (CIs) are those Service assets which are configurable and can be managed through Change Management.

In this context, it is very important to remember that all CIs are service assets, but all service assets are not configuration items (CIs).

For Example, service assets like a Printer, Workstations are CIs, but service assets like ink toners, or knowledge in mind of people are not CIs.

It is also to be noted that every CI should be managed under the control of change management.

Types Of Configuration Items (CIs) in ITIL 

As shown in the below picture, ITIL defines six types of Configuration Items (CIs) under the ITIL Service Management or ITSM Framework.

Types of CIs in ITIL

1) Service Lifecycle CI:

This type of CIs includes the information about services and answers the questions on:

  • Services
  • How will the services be delivered?
  • When will the Service be realized?
  • Expected benefits?
  • Cost of Service.

2) Service CI:

Service CIs includes,

  • Service model
  • Service package
  • Release package
  • Service resource assets (e.g.-Facilities, capital, devices, information)
  • Service capability assets (e.g.-Organization, processes, Knowledge etc)

3) Organization CI:

Organization CIs are internal to an organization and mainly refers to the internal documents. For e.g.-Business strategy, policy etc.

4) Internal CI:

Represents CIs which are delivered by individual projects, including tangible & intangible assets.

5) External CI:

External CIs refer to external customer requirements and agreements, releases from supplier and external services.

6) Interface CI:

Interface CIs are required to deliver end-to-end service across a Service Provider Interface (SPI). For example, escalation matrix and documented process of transferring incidents in-between them.

What is Configuration Management Database (CMDB) in ITIL? 

Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is an integral part of IT Service Management (ITSM). It is a repository that stores information about configuration items (CIs) throughout the service lifecycle. It also describes the attributes & relationships between those CIs.

As described in ITIL, CMDB is the fundamental component of the ITIL Configuration Management process. Also, it also helps to understand the relationships between the components of a system and track their configurations.

The Configuration Management Database (CMDB in ITIL) also coordinates with Incident Management process for receiving updates on replaced components that need to be updated in the database.

The minimum number of attributes and data that the CMDB should stores are as follows:

  • CI Unique Identifier or Identification Code
  • CI Name or Label (often, both, long names and short names)
  • CI Abbreviations or Acronyms
  • CI Description
  • CI Ownership (organizations and people)
  • CI Importance

ITIL does not set any limitations on what attributes a CMDB should store. There may be hundreds of attributes stored per CI depending on the CI type and organizational requirement.

Configuration Management Database ITIL CMDB

are the Specific information about CI’s that are appropriate to maintain. Example: Size of RAM, hard drive, bandwidth etc.

What is Configuration Record in ITIL? 

As described in ITIL v3, a Configuration Record is set of attributes and relationships about a Cl.

Configuration records are stored in the CMDB and managed with the help of CMS.

It is important to remember that CIs are not directly stored in a CMDB; the configuration records describing the CIs are stored in the CMDB.

What is Configuration Management System (CMS) in ITIL? 

As defined by ITIL v3, Configuration Management System (ITIL CMS) is a set of tools and databases that are used to support service assets and manage IT Service Provider's Configuration data.

In reality, the CMS (in ITIL V3) is defined as a collection of one or more physical CMDBs.

Some important properties of Configuration Management System (CMS) are as follows:

  • CMS is maintained by configuration management process and is used by all IT Service Management Processes.
  • In ITIL, CMS is part of a larger Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) that maintain the effectiveness and value of service knowledge as part of knowledge management process.
  • The CMS includes information about Known Errors, Changes, and Releases and may contain data about employees, Suppliers, locations, Business Units, Customers, and Users.
  • The CMS maintains the relationships between all service components and may also include records for related incidents, problems, known errors, changes, and releases.
  • The CMS may also maintain links to corporate data about employees, suppliers, locations and business units, customers and users related to a CIs.
  • CMS can also be integrated with other external databases of customers or suppliers for seamless information transfers.

What is Definitive Media Library (DML) in ITIL? 

The Definitive Media Library (DML) is the secure repository in which the definitive authorized versions of all media, software, license CIs are stored and protected.

DML stores these information at multiple physical locations for redundancy purpose. Although it stores data at multiple physical locations, it is considered as a single logical storage unit.

Some important properties of Definitive Media Library (ITIL DML) are as follows:

  • It stores master copies of versions that have passed quality assurance checks and master copies of all controlled software in an organization.
  • This library may typically consist of one or more software libraries or file-storage areas, separate from development, test or live file storage areas.
  • It may also contain source codes, object codes from controlled builds with official documentation.
  • The DML should include definitive copies of purchased software along with master copies of license documents and software documentation in electronic form.
  • The DML will also include a physical store to hold master copies, e.g. a fireproof safe.
  • In ITIL, DML is strictly controlled by SACM to ensure that only authorized media is stored.
  • The DML is a foundation for ITIL Release and Deployment Management.
  • DML may store data in the virtual storage or in physical storage (CD/DVD) or in both.

We hope that you have enjoyed the above article describing some important terms, their definitions, and their short explanations. Be with us to explore free training on Leading Technologies and Certifications.

Leave us some comments if you have any question about Configuration Items (ITIL CIs), Configuration Management Database (ITIL CMDB), Configuration Management System (CMS), and Definitive Media Library (ITIL DML). We will be very happy to help you.

Also, be sure to read the next related chapter: ITIL Service Assets and Configuration Management (SACM) Process.

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I'm passionate about Information Technology & spreading my knowledge makes me happy. I Have MBA(IS), ITIL, PRINCE2, CCNA, CCNP, MCSA, MS Hyper-V Certifications, and Trained in PMP, CCIE. And also have 10+ Yrs of Work Experience.
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Many Many Thanks for the information provided. I want to understand more. is the software cmdb called DML or this is something different from software cmdb. both are different. pls help me understand with the example.


Nice and clear crispy info ..thanks for posting.


Hello Ayan,

Thanks for providing added information. Im currently working as a PM Administrator as part of a CMDB migration to a new ITSM (SNOW). Right now we are working on attestations and relationships for Servers/Db/Instances to Business Apps.

Regarding the CI Class owners being able to update CI records, what would be a solution for doing so.