What Is CIM and How Is It Used?

what is cim

What Is CIM and How Is It Used?

Few concepts in IT are as important as CIM. When it gets down to it, information technology is a game of solving problems and keeping track of the inventory in your shop. This has a few benefits as a whole, like giving a greater understanding of everything present. You don’t want undue surprises when the rubber hits the road after all.

Defining CIM

So, what is CIM? CIM is short for a common information model, a standard schema for keeping track of all running systems. This allows for managing computers of different manufacturers, and operating systems. It gives a running inventory of what each is doing.

Now, on the surface, this can seem rather mundane in execution. However, this is an invaluable tool, given how complex modern workforces can be. Think about it, you’ve got multiple different machines across however many departments. Not keeping some form of inventory over what these machines are, and what they do, could lead to disaster later on down the line.

Where Do You Find CIM?

A CIM schema can be deployed to catalog all the servers in a data center.


So, where would CIM be employed? You can find it in a few different locations. You’re typically not going to see it deployed in the home, because there’s far less at stake with your electronics.


CIM is frequently employed in business environments. When you consider just how many individual computers are in your individual cubicle farm, business campus, and otherwise, it could be a nightmare in the making. CIM allows IT personnel to know what is issued to which worker, and what each computer is used for.

This has benefits in a variety of different ways. For starters, you don’t have to worry about who is using whatever computer. Secondly, in the event of an attack or network compromise, this allows for a steady inventory to see which machines are affected by an intrusion and just how long those systems will need to be offline.


The need for CIM in education is similar to what you would see in a business or production environment. While children certainly aren’t working towards deliverables, they still are being charged with caring for and maintaining their computer equipment.

Schools as a whole issue a lot of different personal electronics for educational use. CIM allows IT personnel to keep an eye on who has tablets, Chromebooks, laptops, and whatever other personal electronics there might be in the wild.

Data Centers

Data centers can serve as an extension of business environments, but that is a fairly reductive view as a whole. That said, CIM is going to be employed here. You need to know which servers are used for which purpose.

Servers are mission-critical pieces of hardware. As such, they are going to be constantly monitored and accounted for during business.

What Is Included in CIM?

Every computer in a business can be accounted for and managed with a CIM schema.

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So, you’ve got a basic concept of what CIM covers in various settings. However, what does a common information model catalog? The simple answer is an exhaustive list of all related materials you’ll find employed on a computer.

Computer Systems

The most obvious item to cover in CIM is the computer. This can include tablets, Chromebooks, laptops, desktops, servers, smartphones, or anything else for that matter. Having a running inventory of the computer systems employed in a business is crucial. Every piece of equipment used in the workplace is in service of the production of whatever deliverables you’ll find.

Knowing who has what goes a long way to also isolating problems in the event of a catastrophic attack or absolute systems failure. These are generally fringe cases. That said, IT and security staff will generally work together to determine which system is the point of entry. From there, after using the CIM information, they can effectively fix the problem.


Knowing who has a computer is crucial. However, that pales in comparison to knowing the actual files and data contained in a system. CIM does account for this, and much more as you’ll see. The files on each computer, especially in data-rich environments, are vital to keep a handle on.

As with computer systems, in the event of a failure, known good backups can be used to restore functionality. Without something like a CIM catalog in place, there would be countless wasted hours just figuring out which images to use.


Directories go hand in hand with files on a computer. You’ll need to what directories contain each file, and so forth. This isn’t as vital for restorative purposes as the files themselves. However, it is important to keep track of the structure of the folders and other directories on a computer.

Malware and hacker attacks are prone to moving files around without realizing everything is cataloged. As such, it can help determine if someone has been tampering with a system if the changes aren’t accounted for in the CIM schema.


Every computer in use has some form of storage. The partition is just going to keep track of a few things like the available space, what is used, and so forth. This is more of a top-down view, as your directories and files rely on the partition of your hard drive or SSD.

Operating Systems

Many business environments are going to employ a mix of operating systems, typically. This is especially true when looking at MDM security suites, at least with company-provided smartphones. Further, you might have the operating systems on a server differing as they have different overall purposes.

Finally, keeping track of the operating systems aids in addressing overall restorative purposes. You aren’t going to try and use a Time Machine backup drive on a Dell laptop.


Every computer in a work environment is going to have different purposes. Keeping track of the processes running on those machines is a crucial consideration when approaching the CIM schema. If something like a web server goes down for an online shop, you’ll know immediately what to remediate and restart.


One of the final aspects to keep in mind with a CIM schema is the databases. Now, not every computer used in a workplace is going to store a database. However, these are crucial components for any business. You’ll find things like customer data, financial data, and even things like objects and data for web applications stored here.

Restoring a database can often be a nightmare if you don’t know what is supposed to be on there. This is the difference between business resuming as usual and potentially losing weeks of work in a fell swoop. A CIM schema cataloging everything in a database makes this worst-case scenario an afterthought.

Is CIM Important for Modern Computing?

The modern workplace or school is a complex organization. There are a variety of computers and processes that are in constant play when looking at it. As such, something like a CIM schema being integrated helps to keep a running inventory of everything you’ll find. IT personnel are likely familiar with cataloging everything, as it is a standard practice.

The CIM schema is an open standard that provides a uniform approach. Simply having a set open standard only allows for greater productivity and organization. So, is CIM important? Very much so, as it is only a benefit to use it on any campus.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is CIM a proprietary standard?

No, CIM is an open standard used in the deployment of management software and systems.

Would work files be included in a CIM schema?

Absolutely, and the schema would be updated regularly as those files are used, created, and moved.

Would you use a CIM schema to keep track of servers?

You absolutely would use a CIM schema to keep track of any number of servers in a business. Servers all have different purposes generally, so knowing what does each task is absolutely vital.

How is CIM managed?

A CIM schema is typically managed through enterprise management software. This helps to maintain the abstraction of the objects and provides a strong overview of the relationships and connectivity between systems.

Do I need to use a CIM schema at home?

In a home scenario, you’re not likely to use CIM schemas at all. These are for very complex deployments of computer hardware. You might have a small army of laptops at home, but you’re more likely to be aware of all those systems at any given point in time. A systems administrator over a workforce of hundreds or even thousands of employees would use a CIM schema, not a home lab enthusiast.

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