How to Assess and Improve the Effectiveness of Your ServiceNow CMDB for Business Success?

ServiceNow Configuration Management Database (CMDB) has become an integral part of the IT operations of many organizations today. While some have been able to unlock the full potential of ServiceNow CMDB, the majority are still struggling to derive its optimal value due to various reasons.
This blog post outlines key issues hindering the effective use of ServiceNow CMDB and best practices that help organizations address this challenge.

Why Organizations Struggle to Derive Maximum Value from their ServiceNow CMDB

While every organization may have to handle its own unique challenges, there is a set of few common issues that hinder the utilization of every company’s ServiceNow CMDB. These include:
1. Ineffective Discovery Process

Inadequate CI (Configuration Items) discovery processes affect ServiceNow CMDB maintenance. Despite automated tools like ServiceNow Discovery, issues arise from misconfigurations or reliance on legacy CAPI (Cloud API)-based discovery. Newly added CIs may be missing, and documenting every change can be laborious. Also, incomplete data can persist post-discovery as well. All these obstacles impede an organization’s effective CMDB utilization.

2. Inaccurate and Inconsistent CMDB Data
It can be challenging to achieve desired outcomes when the CMDB data is inaccurate and inconsistent. When there is no proper CI reconciliation process, it impacts data integrity in the CMDB. Organizations also overlook the importance of having a mechanism to retire CIs that have been unused for a long time.
3. Lack of Integration between Third-party Tools and the CMDB
Many organizations use tools like Microsoft SCCM, Qualys, CrowdStrike, and others for different IT operations functions like network management, security, etc. The lack of integration between these tools and ServiceNow CMDB often results in a fragmented view of the IT environment. This prevents organizations from maintaining proper configuration information in their CMDB.
4. Absence of Layer 2 Discovery
Failure to establish a proper discovery process for layer 2 devices, such as switches, bridges, and network interface cards (NIC) also hampers ServiceNow CMDB utilization. This makes it difficult to achieve a holistic picture of the IT landscape and identify relationships between various components.
5. Manual Creation of Discovery Schedules
Discovery schedules determine when and how the automated discovery tools should scan the IT landscape. When organizations create discovery schedules manually, it results in delays in identifying and updating the CI changes, preventing organizations from using the CMDB efficiently.
6. Poor Access Control and Security Measures
The absence of effective access controls and security protocols results in unauthorized modifications to the CIs. This causes data inconsistencies and affects the reliability of ServiceNow CMDB, leading to potential disruptions in IT operations.
7. Lack of Insights into the Relationships between CIs and Business Services
A ServiceNow CMDB with configuration data can help companies manage configurations and IT operations to an extent. However, when there’s a lack of visibility into the relationships between the CIs and business services in the CMDB, it affects a company’s service delivery. This is yet another factor that hinders the complete utilization of CMDB’s capabilities.
Addressing these challenges is vital to unlock the ServiceNow CMDB’s full potential. Conducting a comprehensive analysis of the CMDB and the data population methods in an organization is crucial to pinpoint areas for improvement and take effective corrective actions.

Best Practices for Enhancing ServiceNow CMDB Performance

Based on the problems identified through the CMDB analysis, organizations can optimize their CMDB performance to address their specific challenges. The following are some of the best practices that can improve your ServiceNow CMDB performance.
7 Best practices for servicenow cmdb
1. Improving the Discovery Process
To establish a successful discovery process, organizations should transition their ServiceNow Discovery from legacy CAPI-based to advanced pattern-based discovery. Though combining both discovery approaches is possible, it is not advisable as it may create duplicate data in the ServiceNow CMDB. Also, installing ServiceNow Agent Client Collector for Visibility (ACC-V) on devices can enhance resource discovery and data accuracy in the CMDB.
2. Enhancing Data Quality and Accuracy
Implementing ServiceNow’s Identification and Reconciliation Engine (IRE) streamlines CI reconciliation. Configuring the IRE with relevant rules helps prevent the duplication of CIs or task assignments for the de-duplication of CIs by designated groups on priority.
Additionally, establishing a clear CI retirement process integrated with the change process workflow, ensures that CIs are retired only after approval. It can also automate the marking of a retired CI once the change request is closed.
The ServiceNow platform can generate regular reports to identify CIs not updated in the last 30 days, enabling the support team to analyze and take corrective action. For non-updated CIs in the past 90/120 days, organizations can set up scheduled jobs to retire the CIs automatically. They can also leverage the CMDB Health Dashboard to monitor the overall health and performance of ServiceNow CMDB.
3. Integrating Third-party Tools with ServiceNow CMDB
Organizations should integrate their third-party tools with ServiceNow CMDB, alongside ServiceNow Discovery, to load large volumes of third-party data in real-time. This gathers in-depth configuration information about various IT components like workstations, servers, and handheld computing devices, facilitating a consolidated view of their IT environment. ServiceNow Service Graph Connectors, built on top of ServiceNow IntegrationHub ETL, can execute the integration effectively, ensuring data consistency and timeliness by mapping data to the right CMDB tables.
4. Streamlining Layer 2 Device Discovery
A thorough review of Layer 2 discovery patterns is essential to discover all the devices and their details connected to a switch via Simple Network Management Protocol version 3 (SNMPv3). Organizations should assess if the devices are set up to use SNMPv3 and make sure the right ports are active.
5. Automating Discovery Schedules
Automating the discovery schedule creation process ensures timely updates, keeping the ServiceNow CMDB aligned with dynamic changes in the IT landscape. Integrating the CMDB with DNS (Domain Name Service)/IPAM (IP Address Management) tools helps automate discovery schedules. A systematic process should be in place to identify & resolve duplicate IP ranges and eliminate confusion during discovery. Organizations should regularly check and fix overlapping IP ranges to ensure data accuracy. They should also maintain a list of retired IPs and establish a process for avoiding them during discovery.
6. Ensuring Proper Access Control and Security
A clear Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) must be set up for configuring credentials and managing change approvals. Companies should implement Role-based Access Control (RBAC) to ensure that only the Admins and CI Class Managers can modify CI records. This helps maintain data integrity.
7. Establishing Relationships between CIs and Business Services
Companies should make their CMDB service-aware to define business services, identify the relationships between CIs and business services, and gain insights into service health. Implementing tools such as ServiceNow Service Mapping and aligning with the ServiceNow Common Service Data Model (CSDM) can help organizations build a service-aware CMDB effectively, streamlining both configuration management and service management.
(For more information on how to build a service-aware CMDB, read our eBook).
For ServiceNow Service Mapping, organizations can troubleshoot pattern-related mapping errors by employing the Pattern Designer module, enhancing the overall efficiency, and ensuring proper storage of service maps in the CMDB.
Implementing these best practices enables companies to establish a comprehensive ServiceNow CMDB, transforming their IT operations and service management processes. Additionally, integrating advanced tools like ServiceNow Certificate Inventory and Management to automatically discover TLS certificates and ServiceNow Firewall Audit and Reporting to manage firewall policies, etc. enhances the completeness of CMDB.

The Way Forward

ServiceNow CMDB delivers exceptional value to organizations seeking to optimize decision-making and IT operations. For migrating to pattern-based discovery or enhancing data quality with ServiceNow tools, you would need the guidance of a credible ServiceNow partner who can level up your CMDB game, and truly transform CMDB utilization and IT operations management.
KANINI is a ServiceNow Premier Partner, empowering organizations across various industries to revolutionize their IT operations management through the effective implementation and configuration of ServiceNow CMDB. Our assessment-first approach enables us to get a holistic idea of an organization’s problems before proposing and implementing the right solution. Get started with an assessment today by connecting with our ServiceNow expert.
Author

Ravi Rajamani

Ravi is the ServiceNow Practice Lead at KANINI. He brings close to 18 years of experience in the IT industry and has strong program & project management skills spanning ServiceNow, Resource Management, Solution Design, and Service Delivery. He has a proven track record of helping enterprise customers leverage ServiceNow platform efficiently.

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