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White Paper

Strategy & Planning


Configuration Management Database
in ServiceNow
Strategy & Planning White Paper

Table of Contents

Abstract......................................................................................................................... 3
The Problem................................................................................................................... 3
The Solution................................................................................................................... 4
1. Establish the Leadership Team................................................................................ 4
2. Define the Scope..................................................................................................... 5
3. Design the CMDB.................................................................................................... 6
4. Develop the Control Process................................................................................... 6
5. Communicate!......................................................................................................... 7

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Strategy & Planning White Paper

Strategy & Planning White Paper:


Configuration Management Database
in ServiceNow
Audience: IT Leadership, Configuration Process
Owner, and Key Stakeholders
Abstract
This white paper and associated workshop are intended to inform organizational senior IT
Knowing which leadership of the value of the ServiceNow Configuration Management Database (CMDB)
components exist and and the first steps to take towards implementation. Every instance of ServiceNow
includes a CMDB and associated management capabilities, but many organizations
how they are being struggle with how to get started. This white paper discusses the rationale behind
investing in a CMDB and the essential first steps required for successful implementation.
used (or not), enables
an organization to The Problem
Every IT organization has information about its IT infrastructure. This information
better manage its is accumulated over time and is frequently stored and maintained in a variety of
costs. decentralized repositories by the various groups that support specific technology
domains. The biggest problem with this arrangement is that accurate information is not
always readily accessible to those who need it.
The solution to this problem is a centrally managed and controlled Configuration
Management Database (CMDB) that is the system of record for all information about
the IT infrastructure. When properly implemented and maintained, the CMDB becomes a
critical analysis and decision-making support tool for:
Troubleshooting & Impact Analysis: Having information in the CMDB is valuable
when troubleshooting incidents, investigating the root cause of a problem, analyzing
the impact of a change, or planning a project.
Compliance and Regulations: Depending on the industry, documentation and
evidence must be provided that shows devices and assets are being managed and
controlled (e.g., Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, FERC, etc.).
Cost Optimization: Knowing which components exist and how they are being used
(or not), enables an organization to better manage its costs. For example, how many
licenses are available for distribution based on the software, and how many have
actually been deployed? How many are unused that can be harvested back and
redeployed instead of buying new?

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While the CMDB stores information about the IT infrastructure components and their
relationships with one another, it is the Configuration Management process that manages
With proper planning and controls the CMDB to ensure its content is accurate and reliable. Configuration
Management is often confused with Asset Management, the process that tracks the
and management value and ownership of assets throughout their lifecycle. Configuration Management
builds upon the data tracked by Asset Management by adding information about the
oversight, every operational relationships between the infrastructure components. In this regard, Asset
IT organization Management can be viewed as a subset of Configuration Management.
Most of the advanced functionality in ServiceNow ITSM applications relies on information
can establish a from the CMDB. Unfortunately, many customers fail to implement a CMDB and
Configuration Configuration Management process so this functionality can be used and, as a result,
are unable to realize the full value of their ServiceNow investment. This failure is typically
Management due to the complex and challenging nature of implementing a CMDB and a Configuration
framework and Management process. But, it doesnt have to be that way. With proper planning and
management oversight, every IT organization can establish a Configuration Management
CMDB that provides framework and CMDB that provides critical information to all of their service management
processes.
critical information
to all of their service The Solution
The following are a number of critical success factors that each organization should
management address as it begins a Configuration Management implementation initiative.
processes.
1. Establish the Leadership Team
Creating the Configuration Management leadership team is an essential first step in
implementing the CMDB. This team will be responsible for determining what information
will be in the CMDB, how it will be organized, populated, and maintained. Getting the
right people assigned to the core process roles will ensure a greater likelihood of success.
The Configuration Management leadership team should be comprised of the following
roles:
A Process Owner is typically a senior manager who possesses the ability and authority
to ensure that the process is implemented and used by all departments within the
organization. The Configuration Management Process Owner role is particularly
important due to the foundational nature of the CMDB and the number of cross-
functional groups that will use it to support the other ITSM processes. The individual
filling this role must have the credibility and skills to influence across the various IT
organizational silos to ensure process adoption and compliance.
The Process Owner provides guidance and support to the team and ensures that
they have the resources to build the Configuration Management process and CMDB.
He or she protects the team from internal politics and removes any organizational
barriers that impede their progress. Once implemented, the Process Owner
remains responsible for communicating and ensuring the consistent execution of
the Configuration Management process across the organization, and initiating and
sponsoring any initiative needed for improvement.
The Configuration Manager is responsible for managing the day-to-day operational
activities of the Configuration Management process and ensuring that the CMDB
effectively supports the needs of other ITSM processes such as Incident, Change,
and Release. Initially, the Configuration Manager is involved in the design of the CMDB
data model (including relationships, naming conventions, etc.) and the development of
the policies, process procedures, and controls required to ensure the integrity of the
CMDB data.

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On an ongoing basis, the Configuration Manager provides guidance and training to the
Configuration Coordinators and directs their activities in support of the maintenance
Scoping decisions and continued growth of the CMDB. In doing so, the Configuration Manager must
possess both technical and people management skills, a good understanding of the
are often dictated by overall IT infrastructure, the ability to motivate and guide the efforts of others, and the
skill to balance the needs of the various technical domains and service management
policies that address processes. In smaller organizations, the Configuration Manager and Process Owner
an organizations may be the same person.
Each Configuration Coordinator represents a specific technical domain in the IT
business drivers, organization (e.g., applications, database, server, network, storage, etc.). These
contractual individuals may already have responsibility for maintaining information about the
components within their specific domain, possibly in spreadsheets or some other
obligations, service decentralized repository. As part of the Configuration Management team, they will be
commitments, responsible for identifying which configuration item (CI) types and attributes are tracked
in the CMDB, and assisting with the initial loading of this data into the CMDB.
governing laws, On an ongoing basis, the Configuration Coordinators record and maintain domain-
regulations, and specific CIs in the CMDB and assist the Configuration Manager with audits and reports
to ensure process compliance and the accuracy of the CMDB. Because of these
standards. oversight responsibilities, Configuration Coordinators should be able to influence
and convince their peers to support and comply with the Configuration Management
process. Individuals who are viewed as thought-leaders and respected by their peers
perform well in this role.

2. Define the Scope


While ITIL clearly articulates the goal and objectives of the Configuration Management
process, each IT organization must determine how far its scope will extend. Scoping
decisions are often dictated by policies that address an organizations business
drivers, contractual obligations, service commitments, governing laws, regulations, and
standards.
Scoping decisions that must be made include:
What environments will Configuration Management control (e.g., production,
development, test, etc.)?
Which CIs in the CMDB need to be managed at the relationship level and which CIs
require only Inventory- or Asset-level management?
What IT services will be included?

Are there geographic considerations to take into account?

Are there regulatory or compliance requirements that must be met?

Are there specific levels of control required for traceability and auditability?

What security issues must be addressed?

Are interfaces to internal and external service providers required?

Many of the answers to these questions may be stated as policies that will govern the
design and development of the Configuration Management system, if they do not already
exist.

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Another aspect of Configuration Management scope that must be determined is the


degree of integration required to support the other service management processes
Due to the expansive (Incident, Problem, Change, Release, Knowledge, and Request Fulfillment). The level of
maturity and automation possible within each of these processes is highly dependent
nature of most upon the information that can be obtained from the CMDB. Of particular importance is
the integration between Change Management and Configuration Management. These
IT operational processes need to work together seamlessly to ensure that the CMDB accurately reflects
environments, it is changes that have been made to the IT operational environment(s). However, instituting
proper controls in the Change Management process to ensure CMDB accuracy is
advisable to take a frequently overlooked during many ITSM implementations.
phased approach 3. Design the CMDB
to building out and The CMDB is the foundation upon which all ITSM processes should operate. The
ServiceNow CMDB data model is an extensible class/sub-class structure that can be
populating the CMDB. designed according to each organizations needs. While a detailed explanation of how to
design a CMDB is beyond the scope of this paper, the following outlines the basic steps
that must be taken to accomplish this task:
Design the CMDB data model

Class/sub-class structure (typically aligned to technology domains: server, network,


database, application, storage, etc.)
Identify required content for each class/sub-class

Attributes (including class-level inheritance)


Relationships (required)
Establish CI naming conventions/standards

Determine data ownership

Define data security requirements

Identify data sources and determine mechanism(s) to import data into the CMDB
(discovered, automated, and manual)

Once the CMDB data model has been designed and validated, plans must be developed
for the initial build and import of data prior to the production implementation of the
CMDB. Due to the expansive nature of most IT operational environments, it is advisable
to take a phased approach to building out and populating the CMDB. There will always
be some technical domains (classes) that have more complete and better-managed CI
information than others, and these will be the best place to start. Subsequent phases
may address the consolidation of redundant data sources, the implementation of auto-
discovery, and the building of relationships between CIs.

4. Develop the Control Process


After the CMDB has been implemented, it must be controlled to ensure the ongoing
integrity of its contents. The Configuration Management process ensures that no CI is
added, modified, or removed from the CMDB without proper approval authorization. As
mentioned earlier, this control function is closely linked with the Change Management
process, which is responsible for ensuring that all approved changes to the infrastructure
are reflected in the CMDB in a timely manner.

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The following activities should be performed to ensure that appropriate controls are
established within the Configuration Management process:
Forums, town hall Define the process and procedures for creating new CIs

meetings, individual Establish integration with the Change Management process

team meetings Define the process and procedures for Discovery reconciliation (if used)

Define the process and procedures for CMDB verification and audit
and peer-to-peer
Identify Configuration Management and CMDB KPIs and establish measurement
conversations are all procedures and a reporting schedule
very effective means Create a roadmap for continual CMDB expansion and Configuration Management
process improvement
to communicate
and plant the seeds 5. Communicate!
A successful Configuration Management implementation requires culture change.
of culture change Support teams must give up their domain-specific information repositories and maintain
throughout the them in the centralized CMDB, process users must learn to depend on information in the
CMDB to get the desired process outcome, and all reports must now be generated for
organization. the new system of record. In essence, people must change their behavior, and this is
not an easy thing to do.
There are numerous bodies of work dedicated to culture change, and John P. Kotters
book, Leading Change, is one of the most widely accepted roadmaps for implementing
it. Kotters roadmap to culture change is an eight-step process, where the fourth step
is Communicate for Buy-in. Behavior change requires buy-in, and buy-in requires
awareness, understanding, and acceptance that the change is a good thing and this
begins with communication. Therefore, a comprehensive communication plan is critical to
the success of the Configuration Management and CMDB implementation.
A communication plan is a detailed map that describes messaging: the message target
audience(s), the content of the message, the media used to deliver the message, and the
timing of the message delivery. The primary objectives of the communication plan should
be to:
Create awareness of why a CMDB is needed. In Kotters words, create a sense of
urgency.
Explain what the CMDB is and how it will be supported and used. Describe the value
it will provide in terms that the various support teams will understand answer the
question, Whats in it for me?
Inform the staff of the progress that is being made and provide advanced notice of key
milestones.
Communicate success stories.

An effective communication plan also provides mechanisms for the implementation team
to receive information and feedback from the impacted staff. There are a number of tools
and techniques that can be used to accomplish this, but face-to-face communication
is best. Forums, town hall meetings, individual team meetings and peer-to-peer
conversations are all very effective means to communicate and plant the seeds of culture
change throughout the organization.

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The CMDB is a core component of the ServiceNow platform and the foundation
upon which all ITSM disciplines and business processes operate. It is the central hub
The CMDB is a core for information sharing and collaboration, and it is an absolute necessity for every
ITSM endeavor. There is no denying that implementing a CMDB and Configuration
component of the Management process is a complicated undertaking and involves more than what has
been described here. But critical to the success of every Configuration Management
ServiceNow platform initiative are 5 activities that should be addressed from the very start:
and the foundation 1. Establish the Configuration Management leadership team
upon which all ITSM 2. Define the scope of the CMDB

disciplines and 3. Design the CMDB


4. Develop the process to control the CMDB
business processes
5. Continually communicate with all affected staff
operate. If done well, these critical success factors will set the course for a successful
Configuration Management journey.

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2015 ServiceNow, Inc. All rights reserved.


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