IT Operations Management

How to effectively manage your CMDB in ServiceNow

How to effectively manage your CMDB in ServiceNow

Configuration management is a popular topic with our customers, and JDS has been involved in a number of such projects over the years. Specifically, we deal regularly with configuration management databases, or CMDB. The CMDB is a foundational pillar in ITIL-based practices; properly implemented and maintained, it is the glue that holds together all IT operations.

A good CMDB keeps a system of logical records for all IT devices/components, known as Configuration Items (CIs). When all of your organisation’s assets and devices are logically presented, this gives you and your executives greater visibility and insight into your IT environment. As an example, all of the Windows servers are tracked in CMDB, and all of its version details are also tracked. This greatly aids any incident resolution or analysis tasks.

ServiceNow CMDB

ServiceNow CMDB

ServiceNow CMDB

The ServiceNow platform offers a fully integrated CMDB and JDS consultants are experts at implementing and populating the ServiceNow CMDB. The process of discovery can be an onerous and time-consuming task, as you search your entire organisation for each CI and enter it into your CMDB.

ServiceNow Incident Record

ServiceNow incident record referencing a CI

Our team of ServiceNow engineers not only help with the manual processes at the outset, but we also introduce automation to ensure that all new CIs are discovered and entered as soon as they are brought into the environment.

ServiceNow CMDB Health Dashboards

ServiceNow CMDB Health Dashboards

The ServiceNow CMDB, like any other CMDB, faces one particular challenge: as the CMDB grows, it’s increasingly difficult for administrators to keep track and keep data relevant. As complexity increases, it can be challenging to ensure your CMDB remains accurate and relevant.  

The complexity and dynamic nature of today’s IT environments means organisations move and upgrade continuously (e.g. server names and IP addresses are commonly repurposed when new projects enter the picture).

A common myth is that the CMDB is hands-free. It’s common for administrators to turn on the CMDB and populate it initially without giving enough thought to strategies for keeping the data up to date. In reality, it takes constant vigilance or its value to the organisation will quickly diminish. CMDBs require careful maintenance to stay relevant, and JDS can assist with this process.

One of the most important things an IT administrator can do is plan and have a clear scope and purpose when enabling a CMDB. The CMDB supports other critical platform features (e.g. incident, problem and change management, etc). JDS can further narrow down the types of CIs that should be retained (e.g. exclude non-managed assets such as desktop, laptops, and non-production servers). Excluding non-managed assets avoids paying unnecessary licensing costs while also keeping your CMDB focused and concise.

CMDB receiving data

CMDB receiving data from many integration points

It’s common for an organisation to use different vendor tools and often their capabilities overlap each other. In the image above, the customer is receiving CI information from integrations with different vendor products, with each tool reporting conflicting information. JDS specialises in integration across multiple data sources and ensuring the most relevant data is ingested into your CMDB.

A CMDB is fundamentally an operational tool. It needs to be concise and ultimately informational to be useful.

While it is tempting to keep all data in your CMDB, often having too much data introduces confusion and fatigue for users. The strength of ServiceNow is its ability to link to related records, allowing you to have a rich CMDB without it being cluttered.

The benefits of Service Mapping

Service Mapping is a key feature of ServiceNow ITOM, and it’s a different approach to the traditional CMDB population methods. Rather than populating all known assets, Service Mapping adopts a service-oriented approach where only relevant devices and components for a technology or business service are tracked and viewed.

This “lean” approach focuses on the CIs that matter while avoiding many pitfalls of the traditional CMDB.

Service Mapping can be further utilised to drive the event impact dashboard (available as part of ServiceNow ITOM offerings).

Service Mapping

Service Mapping in ServiceNow

Having fewer CIs also means that administrators avoid spending time keeping track of things that are of minimal relevance or importance.

In summary, the ServiceNow CMDB offers some great benefits for practitioners, but it’s important to have a clear understanding of the scope your organisation needs to avoid the pitfalls of a bloated CMDB. JDS recommends using ServiceNow ITOM to manage and make your CMDB more efficient. We have the breadth of skills and expertise to configure your CMDB for the needs of your organisation, as well as to work with you on the Service Mapping of your business. Contact one of our representatives today to find out more or set up an in-person discussion.

Conclusion

To find out more about how JDS can help you with your ServiceNow needs, contact our team today on 1300 780 432, or email contactus@jds.net.au.

Our team on the case

Use your strengths, and turn your weaknesses into strengths!

Ian Ma

Consultant

Length of Time at JDS

3 years

Skills

HP Products (SiteScope, UCMDB, BSM, Orchestration) and ServiceNow ITOM.

Workplace Passion

ITSM and auto-discovery, and using auto-discovery to deliver visibility of infrastructures in the customer’s IT department.

Document as you go.

Peter Cawdron

Consultant

Length of Time at JDS

5 years

Skills

ServiceNow, Loadrunner, HP BSM, Splunk.

Workplace Passion

I enjoy working with the new AngularJS portal in ServiceNow.

Our ServiceNow stories

Posted by Amy Clarke in Manage, ServiceNow, Tech Tips
Integrating OMi (Operations Manager i) with ServiceNow

Integrating OMi (Operations Manager i) with ServiceNow

We have delivered Micro Focus solutions and migrated "Operations Manager for Windows" (OMW) to the innovative new OMi for a number of customers. In most of these cases, the requirement was also to integrate ServiceNow—a request that has been growing in popularity. In each case where JDS has provided OMi to ServiceNow integration, it has proven successful and satisfying for our customers.

OMi has been tested over time, built on a firm foundation. It is robust in design and suitable for every known event and service model situation possible. The possibilities are endless and the GUI is customisable—and as for the designs provided out-of-the-box, they are a fully featured event and service model, driven to work well from the operations and support personnel perspectives.

The integration with ServiceNow is relatively straightforward and simple. It requires a little groovy script programming knowledge. Generally speaking, someone who has an intermediate breadth in JavaScripting can sufficiently develop a connector script. The script is set under the Connected Servers option in the managed scripts.

There are some examples provided; one in particular is the "LogFile Adapter", and with the use of the OMi extensibility guide, these examples can easily translate into useful real-world cases.

You will need to create an account in ServiceNow and enable the "Web service access" role to be allowed to make Web service API protocol calls. Additionally, you will need an account in OMi in order for ServiceNow to interact with OMi WebServices.

Once the OMi connected server to ServiceNow is enabled, Event Forwarding rules can be tailored to use simple event filtering. These filters are used to select and automate events for forwarding and synchronisation with the Connected Server. As an additional option, the integration allows you to right-click on an event and manually transfer it to ServiceNow for incident creation and synchronisation.

With this sample filter shown here, the selection is made when an event matches the filter as a critical event with any lifecycle state that has the priority either set to highest, high, or unknown will be forwarded.

In ServiceNow, it's good practice to have an import table where a transformation map is executed, thereby transforming the forwarded event values to matching values in the ServiceNow incident table. A ServiceNow Business Rule can also be applied to further shape the event data before it's inserted into the incident table.

An example of an import table containing the event data fields we want to transform is below:

Here is an example of a transformation map source field for “description”. The target is set for the incident table to match on the target field “description”.

The incident table can be modified to include the OMi event ID field and be transformed similarly as the description example as shown above. This is important so that the incident can be identified easily as originating from OMi. A Business Rule can check for this field if it contains a GUID value. If an event ID GUID exists in the incident omi_id field, the Business Rule advanced actions can be triggered based on the conditions to sync any changes to the incident back to the event in OMi.

The change of the incident Status, Priority, Assigned to, Description, Cause, Work Notes (Annotation), etc. can match that from the ServiceNow incident back to the event’s fields in OMi.

Once the incident in ServiceNow is closed, a Business Rule can trigger the closure of the event and provide:

  • The Work Notes to the event annotation
  • Resolution notes to the solutions field
  • Resolution code to the description field back to the event in OMi

In ServiceNow, when we solve the incident and close it, the incident that was created by the OMi integration will then note the state is set to Closed.

The incident Work Notes are required each time an update to the incident is made and are also added.

Upon incident closure, you are required to populate the incident resolution fields.

After the operator submits and updates the incident, the Business Rule for an OMi generated incident is triggered to then sync the incident details back to the Event and closes it.

The event is closed by an outgoing WebService request from ServiceNow Business Rule that call a REST Message with an xml payload in a REST POST to OMi.

The Solution here is updated by the incident’s resolution information.

Event annotation is updated by the incident’s Work Notes.

Event history details showing the flow of updates to the event that occurred.

In summary, keeping the event in sync with ServiceNow ticketing system is relatively simple. OMi can forward events to an external event processing server via Connected Servers. This clearly makes integrating event management systems with ticketing systems an all-round solid solution to tracking events and incidents. Some JavaScripting is required, along with an in-depth OMi and ServiceNow product knowledge.

JDS has several consultants on the team with this combination of skills and knowledge, and we would be happy to discuss implementing a similar solution for your organisation at any time.

Our team on the case

Be open and friendly, engaging, and always add value.

Jim Tsetsos

Consultant

Length of Time at JDS

2.5 years

Skills

IT: HPE OMi, OMW, OMU, BSM, Sitescope, VuGen, Operations Agent, Service Manager, HP-UX, Solaris, Linux, Windows, SQL and ITIL.

Personal: Playing guitar, sound engineering, photography, chess, reading.

Workplace Solutions

Infrastructure/Application Performance and Availability Monitoring.

Tech tips from JDS

Posted by Amy Clarke in Manage, ServiceNow, Tech Tips