Managing IT assets and configuration items together, using automation

There are two ways to represent an IT resource: as an asset and as a configuration item (CI). An asset and CI are used for different purposes. When the asset and CI are linked, they provide a unified representation of the IT resource and can be managed together. This linking can be automated.


Assets represent business resources that are under the control of asset management. The purpose of an IT asset is to provide an inventory of the resource, with detail on its current status, who controls it, where it is being used, and the financial details associated with it.

An asset representation is needed at the point that the IT resource physically exists as inventory and has financial value to a business. For example, when a business orders a new server, an asset representation is needed at the point that the server arrives, because it has financial value.

Configuration items

A configuration item represents any component of an information technology infrastructure that is under the control of configuration management. A CI resource contributes to a business service. The CI includes information like who controls the resource, its configuration details, and its current status. A CI provides the security around any updates and changes to the resource, to ensure there is proper change control. CIs vary in complexity, size, and type. They can range from representing an entire service, which may consist of hardware, software, and documentation, to a single program module or a minor hardware component.

In the server example, a CI representation is needed as soon as the new server contributes to any business service. When the new server arrives, it is usually not contributing to a business service and so a CI is not needed. Once that server is provisioned and is running an application, or any component that an application depends on to run, then the server is contributing to a business service. Now you need a CI to represent it.

When managed together

An IT resource should have both an asset and CI representation when it qualifies as both inventory and a business service. Some of the data about the resource is necessary for asset management and configuration management, and therefore should be accessible from both the asset and CI representation of the IT resource. When the resource is represented by both an asset and CI, it is advantageous to link the two representations together so you can manage them together.

Sometimes only one of the representations exists for an IT resource, but the other representation is needed. The missing one can be easily and automatically created and linked using information that already exists. Then the resource can be used in both asset and configuration management, and both representations can be managed as one.

The topics that follow describe assets and CIs, and how to manage them together using automation.


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