Configuration Item

Definition of Configuration Item

A Configuration Item (CI) is a distinct entity within a configuration management system, typically representing hardware, software, or other components of a technology infrastructure. Each CI has specific attributes and relationships to other CIs, making it easier to assess changes and manage individual components within a larger system. The purpose of a CI is to track, manage, and document those individual elements and their configurations throughout their lifecycle.


The phonetic representation of the keyword “Configuration Item” using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is: /ˌkɒnfɪɡəˈreɪʃən aɪtəm/

Key Takeaways

  1. A Configuration Item (CI) represents an individual IT asset or a component within an IT system, which is tracked and managed throughout its lifecycle.
  2. Each CI has a unique identifier, which allows it to be easily referenced and linked to other related CIs or documentation, facilitating efficient change and incident management.
  3. CIs are essential for maintaining an accurate Configuration Management Database (CMDB), which supports IT service management and decision-making processes, including impact analysis, risk assessment, and planning of changes and upgrades.

Importance of Configuration Item

The technology term Configuration Item (CI) is important because it refers to a fundamental building block in the field of IT service management, configuration management, and change management processes.

By defining a CI as any individual component, asset, or system within an IT infrastructure or service that requires management and control, it enables organizations to maintain an accurate, up-to-date inventory of their hardware, software, and documentation.

In turn, this enhances the ability to effectively manage, monitor, and track changes made to these items, ensuring that configurations remain aligned with business objectives and compliance requirements.

Additionally, understanding and managing CIs facilitate informed decision-making, help identify dependencies, and mitigate risks associated with changes, ultimately contributing to the overall efficiency, stability, and performance of an organization’s IT environment.


Configuration Items (CIs) play an essential role in the management and organization of IT systems and services. The primary purpose of Configuration Items is to provide a structured approach to documenting and tracking the individual components or resources within a technology environment. These components can include hardware, software, networking equipment, documentation, and even personnel.

Identifying and managing Configuration Items not only helps in streamlining processes and maintenance activities, but also offers valuable insights into the dependencies and relationships within a given system or network. By understanding these relationships, IT professionals can ensure that any changes made to one component will not adversely impact other components or the overall functionality of the system. In practice, Configuration Items serve as a centralized repository of information related to a particular component throughout its lifecycle.

This information can include details such as the component’s attributes, version history, and associated relationships with other items in the technology environment. By maintaining a comprehensive and up-to-date record of CIs, IT teams can more effectively manage and optimize their resources, anticipate potential risks, and facilitate more efficient change management processes. As a result, organizations relying on technology for their day-to-day operations can achieve improved performance, heightened security, and a more agile response to evolving business needs.

Examples of Configuration Item

A Configuration Item (CI) is a component of an IT system that is subject to configuration management. It can be hardware, software, or a combination of both, and it plays a crucial role in managing and maintaining IT systems effectively. Here are three real-world examples of Configuration Items:

Server Hardware: In a data center, servers are essential hardware Configuration Items for hosting applications, storing data, and managing network traffic. Each server’s components, such as the CPU, memory, storage, and network interfaces, are documented and managed through their unique CI identification. This allows technicians to track configuration changes, hardware updates, and maintenance cycles effectively.

Software Applications: In an organization, various software applications like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, and other critical software tools are considered Configuration Items. Each software application’s release version, patches, and custom configurations are documented and managed as Configuration Items, making it easier for IT personnel to track software updates and resolve compatibility issues.

Network Devices: Network devices such as routers, switches, and firewalls that help manage and secure an organization’s network infrastructure are Configuration Items. These devices often have specific configuration settings, firmware versions, and security policies. As Configuration Items, all these configuration details are documented, allowing IT teams to monitor, track, and conduct necessary changes to optimize and secure the network efficiently.

Configuration Item FAQ

What is a Configuration Item?

A Configuration Item (CI) refers to an individual component or service within an IT system or infrastructure. These CIs can include hardware, software, documentation, and personnel that are essential for the effective functioning of the system. They are usually managed and documented within a Configuration Management Database (CMDB).

Why is Configuration Item management essential?

Configuration Item management is crucial because it enables organizations to track, monitor, and control all aspects of a system while maintaining a holistic view of IT infrastructure. By managing CIs, organizations can identify dependencies, potential risks and impacts, assess change feasibility, and ensure optimal system performance and availability.

What is the difference between a Configuration Item and an Asset?

Although both assets and CIs are components of an IT infrastructure, there are differences between them. An asset typically refers to a tangible item like hardware or software, which has financial value or contributes to operational efficiency. A Configuration Item, on the other hand, can be an asset but also includes other elements of the infrastructure like documentation, processes, and personnel, emphasizing their role in the system’s configuration and performance.

What are some examples of Configuration Items?

Configuration Items can include a wide range of elements within an IT system. Some examples are servers, routers, switches, software applications, database systems, network devices, documentation, and IT personnel responsible for specific roles or functions within the system.

How are Configuration Items related to Change Management?

Configuration Items play a significant role in change management procedures. As any change within an IT system can potentially impact CIs or their relationships, tracking and analyzing CIs is crucial for understanding and assessing the impact of a proposed change. Additionally, having detailed information about CIs helps organizations evaluate the feasibility and risks associated with a change, ensuring a smooth change implementation with minimal impact on system performance and stability.

Related Technology Terms

  • Configuration Management
  • Change Control Board
  • Baseline
  • Configuration Management Database (CMDB)
  • Change Request

Sources for More Information


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