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Introduction to ServiceNow CMDB & CSDM

Introduction to the CMDB

The “Configuration Management Database” (CMDB) is a centralized source of information that provides full visibility into an enterprise's IT environment. By storing information about the infrastructure, its configuration and relationships between said elements, it allows you to more efficiently manage the support and service delivery processes offered by the ServiceNow platform.

Configurations are stored in a configuration management database (CMDB) that consists of entities, called configuration items (CIs). An IC can be:

- A physical entity, such as a computer or router.

- A logical entity, such as an instance of a database.

- Conceptual, as a definition of Service.

In each case, CIs contain attributes that must be managed, such as making changes, tracking against a given CI, etc. A CI generally does not exist on its own, CIs have dependencies and relationships with other CIs. For example, loss of disk drives can make a database instance unusable, affecting the request service that the human resources department uses to request computers for new employees.

These are the relationship capabilities that make the CMDB a powerful decision-making support tool. Understanding the dependencies and other relationships between your CIs can tell you, for example, exactly who and what is affected by the loss of that bank of disk drives. When you discover that a router has failed, you will be able to evaluate the effect of that outage. When you decide to upgrade a server's processor, you can know who or what will be affected during that upgrade.

Configuration items differ from environment to environment because each customer has unique needs. One customer may need details about a computer's physical attributes, but to another they may represent meaningless data. The ServiceNow platform provides a mechanism to easily define new classes of configuration items and new relationships that can exist between CIs. New classes can be defined that extend other classes. For example, there is a class of laptops that expands the class of computers. The computer science class itself expands on the basic IQ class. Customer class extensions are automatically part of the ServiceNow environment and integrate seamlessly with integration points in other ITIL processes.

For example, you can set the “used” attribute in the cmdb_ci_server table to a value such as “development,” “test,” or “production.” These values indicate the environment that supports the CI and serve as a way to track a CI over the years. throughout its life cycle in a changing environment.

Solving IT challenges with the CMDB

Since much of the modern enterprise is IT-driven, visibility into IT infrastructure is mission-critical. This desired visibility, however, is notably elusive. IT infrastructure continues to grow and become more complex, especially with the proliferation of hardware, software, devices, virtual machines, cloud services, mobile devices, container technologies, etc. This makes infrastructure visibility a constantly moving target. For IT to gain visibility, the challenge of consolidating, maintaining and understanding complex data must be met .

IT professionals use the ServiceNow CMDB to provide visibility into IT infrastructure so they can focus on making fact-based decisions and delivering business-critical IT services that drive the business. To effectively manage and improve the delivery of your IT services, you need to know exactly what is being used within your IT environments, as well as how it is being used with current and accurate configuration data. Some studies estimated a 40% reduction in corrective actions. Imagine taking back those misaligned efforts and directing them toward more strategic goals. The benefits of a CMDB backed by a strong configuration management capability are far-reaching and include administration services, asset management, operations management, information security, cloud operations, and compliance.

Ways to view data in the CMDB

CMDB Changes

Every change to CMDB data is fully traceable and logged by date and time, change source (such as ServiceNow Discovery, SCCM), user, etc., and includes the new and old value. A timeline of service and CI history provides a visualization of planned and unplanned changes to CIs, as well as alerts over time.

CMDB Query Builder

The CMDB Query Builder feature provides a simple and intuitive way to query the CMDB for CIs and relationships in multiple CMDB tables, including service maps. The user interface is drag/drop and allows the creation and execution of complex queries on CMDB data without writing code. Queries can be saved, scheduled, and exported to multiple file formats.

Dependency Views

ServiceNow Dependency Views graphically displays an infrastructure view for a configuration item (CI) and the business application or services it is a part of and supports. Dependency views indicate the status of your configuration items, relationships between CIs, and allow access to alerts, incidents, problems, changes, and services related to the CIs.

A service is a definition supported by an IT infrastructure. For example, delivering an email service to an employee may require services such as email servers, web servers, and the work of setting up the user's account.

A dependency view map has a starting point, called the root CI or map root node. The root IC is surrounded by a darker frame that is repainted with a pulsing effect that draws attention to the root IC. Maps can show both upstream and downstream dependencies for the root CI. By default, the dependency view map shows 3 levels, both upstream and downstream relationships.

In a dependency view map, indicators on the map indicate whether a CI has any pending active issues. You can investigate the tasks that are connected to a CI for more details. When you return to the map from another form, the system restores the last viewed map, using the default filter and layout settings.

You can view the map from different perspectives and open specific records related to configuration items. The system automatically updates the map to reflect changes in the CMDB.

CMDB Dashboard

A health dashboard provides a holistic view of CMDB data quality. Provides a single view of data quality at the CMDB, CI class, and CI levels using completeness, correctness, and compliance scores.

CMDB Capabilities

The benefits of the ServiceNow CMDB enhance configuration management capabilities, including service management, asset management, operations management, security management, cloud operations, event management, and compliance.

Review the use cases below to see how the CMDB plays a vital role in everyday processes.

Use case 1:

The IT service desk can use the CMDB during an incident management process to better understand the equipment and software of users on their network.

Use case 2:

Operations managers can gain visibility into the servers, applications, and network devices on their network, including the relationships between them.

CMDB Stakeholders

Stakeholders or interested parties are all those potential people who can obtain value from a robust and accurate CMDB. Each stakeholder will have different objectives, as well as desirable outcomes to achieve in an implementation.

It is essential to reach agreement on the goals and objectives of configuration management to ensure that stakeholders are aligned and agree on established priorities. Configuration management efforts must be clearly and explicitly linked to the strategic objectives of the organization and the tactical objectives of the IT department.

To determine the specific CI information necessary to support the required capabilities and generate organizational acceptance, stakeholders must be involved, including process owners, administrators of each IT domain, and other experts associated with each one of the processes.

CSDM (Common Service Data Model)

The Common Service Data Model (CSDM) is a standard, consistent set of terms and definitions that unify data access for ServiceNow products. CSDM is the standard for all ServiceNow products that use the CMDB.

CSDM terms and definitions enable service reporting and provide guidelines for modeling services within the ServiceNow configuration management database (CMDB).

The CSDM data model is a framework that supports multiple configuration strategies. The data model includes guidelines for using tables and relationships from the base system. Many ServiceNow products depend on this data model.

The following figure illustrates the CSDM conceptual model and how various roles and users can use the model, as well as identify each of the domains (Foundation, Design, Construction, Technical Services Management and Sell/Consume).

Each domain in the CSDM conceptual model is associated with one or more products, services, or types of services, which can be expanded as necessary.

CSDM domains

- The Foundation domain represents tables that contain base data that is referenced from or to objects in the other CSDM domains.

- The Design domain represents the tables currently used by ServiceNow Application Portfolio Management (APM).

- The Construction domain represents the tables used in the digital product build effort such as DevOps.

- The Manage Technical Services domain represents the tables currently used by ServiceNow IT Operation Management (ITOM), such as Service Mapping and Discovery.

- The Sell/Consume domain represents the tables currently used by Service Portfolio Management and Customer Service Management.

- The Manage Portfolio domain encompasses parts of all five domains.

Benefits of using CSDM

You can use CSDM as a model to map your IT services to the ServiceNow platform. The CSDM framework identifies where to place data for the products you are using. Following the CSDM framework ensures that the data your ServiceNow application requires correctly maps to the appropriate CMDB tables.

If you do not follow this standard, you may not receive the full benefit of your ServiceNow solution.

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