Configuration Items application

You use the Configuration Items application to define, create, and manage relationships among configuration items according to relationship rules that you specify in the Relationships application. A configuration item is any component of an information technology infrastructure that is controlled by configuration management.

In the Configuration Items application, you can manage configuration item collections, and you can create service requests, incidents, problems, work orders, changes, and releases for the configuration item.

Configuration items vary in complexity, size, and type. A configuration item can be a complete service, including all hardware, software, documentation, and so on. The smallest unit for a configuration item is typically the smallest component that you change independently of other configuration items, such as a minor hardware component.

In practice, most configuration items with which you deal are at a higher level, including assets, services, items, and locations. Some configuration items can be physical locations, such as a data center. Discovery tools typically do not find these configuration items; you can associate them with location records.

You can use discovery tools to locate and characterize some configuration items. Discovered configuration items are called actual configuration items. You can view them in the Actual Configuration Item application.

When you work with configuration items, the following things apply:
  • Configuration items are managed individually, and are typically treated as self-contained units for identification and change control purposes.
  • Configuration items are identified uniquely with names and other attributes.
  • The lowest level configuration item is typically the smallest unit that are changed independently of other components.

Creating configuration items

In the Configuration Items application, you create the configuration items that you want to be under configuration management and change control. The configuration items that you create are sometimes referred to as authorized configuration items, or simply, CIs.

You often create a CI based on the database record of an actual configuration item, or actual CI, that was created by a discovery tool. The record you create in the Configuration Items application, however, is the authorized version of the actual CI in the Actual Configuration Items application.

Creating records for configuration items

In the Configuration Items application, you can create the following kinds of records for a CI:
  • Service requests
  • Incidents
  • Problems
  • Work order
  • Changes
  • Releases

Associating configuration items

You can associate, or link, a CI with another record, such as an asset, location, item, service, or service group. You can associate an actual CI with an authorized CI in the following ways:
  • In the Configuration Items application, you can create an authorized CI and associate it with an actual CI.
  • In the Configuration Items application, you can associate an existing authorized CI with an actual CI.
  • In the Actual CI application, you can create an authorized CI (a new record in the Configuration Items application) by selecting an actual CI and specifying a classification.
Not all CIs have an association with other records.

Comparing attributes of associated configuration items

When an authorized CI, the "as planned" version of the CI, is associated with an actual CI, the "as built" (or discovered) version of the CI, the values of their attributes should match. Any mismatches need to be investigated for cause and corrected. The Configuration Items application provides a comparison feature where such mismatches are highlighted. When any currently displayed authorized CI is associated (linked) with an actual CI, you can view an attribute comparison of the two CIs in the Specifications table, where any discrepancies in their attribute values are highlighted.

From the Specifications table on CI Details tab, you can view any attribute discrepancies that exist between the currently displayed, authorized CI and its associated actual CI (if one exists). If a CI is at present linked to an existing actual CI, the Specifications table adds a Discovered Variance column (for the actual CI) next to the Authorized Value column (for the authorized CI). These columns present a side-by-side, authorized-vs.-discovered comparison of the values for the complete set of authorized attributes.

Here is how the attribute comparison works:
  • If the attribute values of the two CIs match one another, the matched value is displayed in the Authorized Value column only.
  • If the values do not match, the two mismatches are displayed and highlighted in each column.
  • If a mismatched discovered value is a value of null or "empty," the text No Discovered Value is displayed in the Discovered Variance column and the data in both columns are highlighted.
Note: If an authorized CI attribute has no corresponding attribute at all in the actual CI, nothing is displayed in the Discovered Variance column and nothing is highlighted. Here the attribute is treated as an extra attribute in the authorized CI, not a variance. That is, sometimes an attribute is intentionally added to an authorized CI, but not to the actual CI, so it cannot be discovered and imported as an attribute of the actual CI.

Maintaining consistency between the actual and authorized versions of your CIs is part of controlling your IT environment. It ensures that your Content Management System accurately reflects your physical and logical infrastructure. The attribute comparison in the Specifications table provides you with quick visibility of attribute mismatches, so that you can take steps to correct them. This comparison can bring to your attention possible incongruities or unauthorized changes to a CI, or even validate that an approved change request to reconcile identified mismatches between attribute values was completed as expected.

Viewing maps of CIs

The Map - Side by Side and Map - Below tabs are displayed beside the List tab. You can use these tabs to display the location of one or more CI records on a geographic map. In addition, after you open a CI record, you can use the Related CIs map tab to draw a map that shows the current CI and its related CIs.

See Using maps for more information about mapping CIs.