By definition configuration management is the process that defines and controls the components of services and products, also maintains accurate information on the historical, planned and current state of the services and products.

Configuration Management system (CMS)

- Organizations use a Configuration Management system (CMS) to manage large and complex IT services and products. A Configuration Management system consists of Configurable items, those of which are categorized in different layers namely Presentation layer, Knowledge Processing layer, Information Integration layer and Data & Information sources and tools.

- Configuration Management System is closely integrated with Change Management system so that configurable items are updated during a change implementation.

- The key benefits of using a Configuration Management System are:
(i) It enables stakeholders and team members to assess the impact of proposed changes.
(ii) It helps to track changes in workflow and to ensure that the correct asset and service component versions are identified for release into the correct environment.
(iii) A well maintained Configuration Management System provides reliable, quick and easy access to accurate information.

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Configurable Item (CI)

-A configurable item (CI) could be an asset, document, service component, or any other item, that is or will be, under the control of Configuration Management.

-Different configurable items may differ in terms of complexity, size and type, ranging from an entire service or system, including all software, hardware, documentation and support staff to a single module or a component.

-Different configurable items may be grouped and managed together based on above characteristics or independent of commonalities to form a release item.

- Configurable items should be selected using established selection criteria and then grouped, classified and identified in such a way that they are manageable and traceable throughout the project lifecycle.

Types of Configurable Item (CI)
The grouping of configurable items can be done into following six types –

1. Organization CI – e.g. Business strategy, regulatory requirements.
2. Service Lifecycle based CI – e.g. Business Case, Service design Package (SDP)
3. Service CI – e.g. Process, Infrastructure.
4. Internal CI – e.g. Items delivered by individual projects.
5. External CI – e.g. Customer requirements, agreements.
6. Interface CI – e.g. Items required for end to end service delivery.

Terminology used in Configuration Management System (CMS)—

- Secure library – It is the collection of software, electronic or document CIs of known type and status.

- Definitive Media library (DML) – It is the secure library in which the definitive and authorized versions of all media CIs are stored and protected.

- Configuration Baseline – The configuration of a service or product that has been formally reviewed and agreed on. - Snapshot A view of the current state of a CI or an environment taken from a tool.

- Configuration Management Database (CMDB)

  • It is database used to store configuration records throughout their lifecycle.
  • Each CMDB stores the attributes of configurable items and their relationship with other configurable items.
  • These attributes can include CI name, unique identifier, CI type, Version, location, status etc.
  • Within a CMS there could be one or more CMDB.
  • At data level the CMS may take data from several physical CMDBs, which together constitute a consolidate CMDB.
  • Automated processes to load and update the CMDB should be developed to reduce errors and manage costs.

Procedure for sound Configuration Management Process

1. Develop Configuration Management Plan:  First and foremost a Configuration Management plan is designed, developed and accepted by key stakeholders. Configuration Management plan is nothing but a formal document to guide the CM program that includes items such as:

  • Personnel involved,
  • Responsibilities and Resources,
  • Training requirements,
  • Administrative meeting guidelines,
  • Definition of procedures and tools,
  • Baselining processes,
  • Configuration control and Configuration status accounting,
  • Naming conventions,
  • Audits and Reviews process,
  • Subcontractor/Vendor CM requirements

2. Identification of Configuration items
Configuration identification is the process of identifying the attributes that define every aspect of a configuration item. These attributes are recorded in configuration documentation and baselined. Baselining an attribute forces formal configuration change control processes to be effected in the event that these attributes are changed.

3. Control of Configuration items
Configuration change control is a set of processes and approval stages required to change a configuration item's attributes and to re-baseline them.

4. Configuration status accounting
Configuration status accounting is the ability to record and report on the configuration baselines associated with each configuration item at any moment of time.

5.Configuration audits
Configuration audits are broken into functional and physical configuration audits. They occur either at delivery or at the moment of effecting the change. A functional configuration audit ensures that functional and performance attributes of a configuration item are achieved, while a physical configuration audit ensures that a configuration item is installed in accordance with the requirements of its detailed design documentation.

ITIL® v3 Foundation Study Guide. Wikipedia page on Configuration Management.

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