Configuration Management White Paper

Ultimate CMDB Process Guide For CMDB Managed Services

Infocenter DEVSHOP™

 

 

 

 

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Introduction

This process guide will provide a detailed explanation on how ServiceNow Elite Partner, Infocenter Configuration Management process for the DEVSHOP Managed Services Offering is enabled within the ServiceNow platform. Prior to DEVSHOP, we begin your roadmap to success with Infocenter RADIUS strategy engagements.

During RADIUS, our team of domain experts will sit down with your key stakeholders and team to:

  1. Determine your needs
  2. Gain internal alignment
  3. And create a plan for successful execution of your digital transformation.

Speak with a ServiceNow Elite Partner

 

ServiceNow encourages simple, lean, and effective ITSM processes which are reflected in the out-of-the-box design.  Infocenter ITOM DEVSHOP program wholeheartedly agrees with this approach.  The ServiceNow managed service offering of DEVSHOP has been designed with this principle in mind.

Customers may add additional functionality to the CMDB offered, however, this should only be in scenarios where there is a required business outcome gained, value proven and quantified, and stakeholder agreement that the desired outcome could not be achieved using an out of the box method.

 

CMDB and Configuration Management Principles and Basic Concepts

A configuration item (CI) is any component or other service asset that needs to be managed in order to provide an IT service. The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is used to build logical representations of assets, services, and the relationships between them that comprise the IT infrastructure of an organization. Details about these components are stored in the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) which you can use to monitor the infrastructure, helping ensure integrity, stability, and continuous service operation.

The goal of the Configuration Management process is to manage the life cycle of all configuration items and their relationships with one another in a controlled manner that supports efficient and effective service management processes by providing timely and accurate configuration information, aligned to services, to enable people to make the right decisions at the right time.

There are strong inter-process relationships between Configuration Management and the other IT service management processes.  Configuration Management and the CMDB are the foundation to integrated ITSM processes and should be considered at the very beginning of any IT service management transformation effort.

 

DEVSHOP Configuration Management Process Scope

The scope of Configuration Management includes tracking and managing all CIs and relationships that support the live environment, including:

  • Services
  • Service Assets (e.g. Technology or infrastructure required to deliver service)
  • Support Documentation (e.g. maintenance and warranty information)
  • Processes (documentation and procedures associated with running, supporting and maintaining the live environment)

DEVSHOP Configuration Management Process Objectives

The objectives of Configuration Management are to:

  • Ensure CIs under control are identified and properly managed throughout their lifecycle
  • Identify, control, record, report, audit and verify services and other CIs, including versions, baselines, constituent components, their attributes and relationships.
  • Account for, manage and protect the integrity of CIs, through the service lifecycle by working with change management to ensure that only authorized components are used, and only authorized changes are made.
  • Ensure the integrity of CIs and relationships required to control the services by establishing and maintaining an accurate and complete CMDB.
  • Maintain accurate configuration information on the historical, planned and current state of services and CIs.
  • Support efficient and effective service management processes by providing accurate configuration information for decision-making purposes.[1]

 

[1] ServiceNow CMDB Process Guide, Madrid

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DEVSHOP Configuration Management Roles and Responsibilities

Configuration Management Process Owner

This role is filled by our client and is the Single Point of Contact for Infocenter for all Configuration Management issues.  The Configuration Management Process Owner’s primary objective is to own and maintain the Configuration Management process. The role of the Process Owner is usually a senior manager with the ability and authority to ensure the process is rolled out, adhered to and used by all stakeholders.

 

Managed Services for Configuration Management Delivers The Following: 

  • Defining the overall mission of the Configuration Management process
  • Establishing and communicating the process mission, goals, and objectives to all stakeholders within the organization. Infocenter-led sessions by CMDB expert practitioners co-deliver the program with the client team.
  • Infocenter will Document and maintain the process and procedures within the client knowledge base
  • Resolving any cross-functional (departmental) issues for Configuration Management, CI Ownership, or CI remediation
  • Ensuring proper staffing (both internal and external) and training for execution of the Configuration Management process
  • Ensuring consistent execution of the process across the organization by deploying Configuration Management control plans and KPIs
  • Monitoring, measuring, and reporting on the effectiveness of the process to senior management with periodic program checkpoints and performance recaps
  • Continually improving the process by maturing and refining the process for maximum efficiency within the organization

 

ServiceNow System Role Required:

No role is required in ServiceNow for this, however, a login will be needed.

 

DEVSHOP Configuration Manager

The DEVSHOP Configuration Manager is the Infocenter Program manager.  The Program Manager is responsible for day to day facilitation of the Configuration Management process.  The role is included in the managed service offering from Infocenter.  The primary objective of the role is to ensure changes to the data in the ServiceNow CMDB, including CIs, CI Classes, Relationships, and CI Reconciliations, are controlled and to enable efficient resolution of integrity issues.  The DEVSHOP Configuration Manager will work with the client CI Owners as needed.

Responsible for:

  • Managing the day-to-day activities of the process; ensuring operating procedures are documented to support the activities.
  • Maintains the Configuration Management System, including the CI data model and relationships
  • Assigning approved Change tasks to CMDB admins for execution.
  • Coordinating interfaces between Configuration Management and other processes.
  • Ensuring that all operational services (and those being prepared) are recorded within the CMDB.
  • Ensuring that all information within the CMDB is accurate and up to date.
  • Tracking compliance to the process
  • Works with client Service Management Office to set policy and governance as needed.
  • Works with Architecture Review Boards (ARBs) as needed to ensure CI Architecture decisions follow the CMDB CI and Service Roadmap.

ServiceNow Role Required:

In ServiceNow, a Configuration Manager will require the ITIL role.

 

[1] ServiceNow CMDB Process Guide, Madrid

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DEVSHOP Configuration Admin / Client CI Owner

The configuration admin is responsible for administering the ServiceNow CMDB.  This is also a DEVSHOP offered role by Infocenter.

 

Responsible for:

  • Responsible for the CIs defined within scope their area
  • Record and maintain CIs (within scope) in the CMDB
  • Assists the Process Manager with audits and report generation
  • Ensures the CMDB is updated upon successful change implementation
  • Collects and retains information for risk assessment and impact analysis

 

ServiceNow Role Required:

The ITIL role is required in ServiceNow.

 

How Configuration Items are Created

Directly in ServiceNow – ITIL users can raise configuration items directly in the CMDB application as they are required.  This activity can be delivered via Infocenter Configuration Management Managed Service DEVSHOP Program.  All CIs that are added manually go through a dynamic discovery process to ensure they are managed going forward within an automated process.

Bulk upload using import sets – Import sets allow you to import data from a variety of sources and then map it to a specific table. The transform map allows you to define a field mapping, coalesce values, and scriptable actions that happen during the import. This activity can be delivered via Infocenter Configuration Management Managed Service DEVSHOP Program

From ServiceNow Discovery or Infocenter Mapping As A Service (MaaS) – The Discovery product automatically populates the CMDB. Discovery runs probes and sensors to collect information on hardware on the network, software running on that hardware, and the relationships between all the items found. This information is sent back to the ServiceNow instance and is used to populate the CMDB.  This activity can be delivered via Infocenter Discovery and Configuration Management Managed Service DEVSHOP Program.

The MaaS offering is designed to accelerate the service mapping of applications and successfully relate them to infrastructure.  DEVSHOP MaaS offering is executed by DEVSHOP Configuration Managers and Analysts.

From a ServiceNow CMDB API external source –  The CMDB instance REST APIs allow for easy integration capabilities from external sources to create and update CIs and add relationships.[1]

This integration can be delivered via Infocenter Configuration Management Managed Service DEVSHOP Program.

 

[1] ServiceNow CMDB Process Guide, Madrid

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Using “Help the Help Desk” – “Help the Help Desk” is a lightweight native discovery tool that comes as a part of the overall CMDB. Help the Help Desk enables organizations to proactively scan their network to discover all Windows-based PCs and the software packages installed on those PCs. This WMI-based discovery capability is included in the core ServiceNow functionality, in the Self-Service application.

During the design phase of the Infocenter Configuration Management Managed Service using the “help The Help Desk” can be part of the ITOM Roadmap Design (RADIUS).

 

DEVSHOP Configuration Management CI Lifecycle

From the time of its creation to the time that it is no longer needed, a CMDB CI would typically transition through several operational states. CI Lifecycle Management delivered by Infocenter Configuration Management DEVSHOP Activities provides the mechanism to define states and actions for a CI and lets you apply appropriate actions based on a CI’s state.  Each state is tailored to the management of CI lifecycle to business needs. Our recommended Configuration Management process has the following operational states model:

  • Ready
  • Operational
  • DR Standby
  • Repair in Progress
  • Non-Operational
  • Retired[1]

 

[1] ServiceNow CMDB Process Guide, Madrid

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Process Overview


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[1] ServiceNow CMDB Process Guide, Madrid

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Configuration Management Managed Service DEVSHOP Process

 

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DEVSHOP CI Identification and Population

The DEVSHOP Configuration Management will determine the scope and criteria of CIs to be included in the CMDB. This includes the modeling of the infrastructure to determine what CIs will look like and how they are related to each other.  It also includes the elaboration of naming conventions, enterprise taxonomy and the CI selection.

The ServiceNow CI Identification and Reconciliation module provides a centralized framework for Infocenter DEVSHOP practitioners when identifying and reconciling data from different data sources. It helps maintain the integrity of the CMDB when multiple data sources such as Event Management, Discovery, Import Sets, API Integrations, and Manual Entry are used to create and update CI records.  The DEVSHOP will also include activities to define and configure exception handling task creation.  Those CIs which are not certified will generate a remediation task which can be worked by DEVSHOP Managed Service practitioners or CI Class Owners.

The use of multiple sources of CI data increases the risk of introducing inconsistencies through duplicate records. To maintain the integrity of the database, it is important to correctly identify CIs and services so that new records are created only for CIs that are truly new to the CMDB. Identification and Reconciliation, helps you prevent duplication of CI records, reconcile CI attributes, reclassify CIs, and allow only authoritative data sources to update the CMDB.

Identification

Identification is the Infocenter DEVSHOP process of uniquely identifying CIs, to determine if the CI already exists in the CMDB or if it is a newly discovered CI that must be added to the CMDB. The identification engine performs identification processes, relying on identification rules.

Reconciliation

Reconciliation is the process of reconciling CIs and CI attributes data from different sources. The key to this process is to only allow designated authoritative data sources to write to the CMDB at the CI table and attribute level. The CMDB is updated in real time as records are being processed. There is no staging area to verify the reconciliation activities before they are committed. The process relies on reconciliation rules.

Once the request for a new CI is created, evaluate the request and determine the new CI type or class to be created based on the CI selection guidelines. Once an existing class is assigned or a new class is created, invoke change management for the CI to be updated or created in the CMDB. Assign a unique identifier to the new CI and populate the required attributes. Specify the appropriate relationships required and upon validation publish the CI in the appropriate operational state.

 

DEVSHOP CI Update and Maintenance

CI Update and Maintenance is a part of Infocenter DEVSHOP Configuration Control activity that is responsible for ensuring that only authorized and identifiable CIs are in the infrastructure and that there is a corresponding accurate and complete CI record. Updates to the CMDB are also governed by the DEVSHOP Configuration Control activity.

Unauthorized Changes are forwarded to Change Management for instructions on how to proceed.  Discrepancies and errors in the CI configuration are forwarded to the Infocenter Managed Services CI Owner for resolution.

As recommended, any CI update shall be done by following change management processes. The Configuration Manager receives the change request to update an existing CI record via change management. Authorized change requests are prioritized and forwarded to CMDB administration for further processing. Rejected change requests are returned to the requestor with an explanation of the rejection.

In case of new CIs or modified CIs are identified by Discovery or any other external source that is integration with CMDB, verify that an authorized change request exists to justify the presence of a CI or the CI update. Alternatively, during the implementation or review of the change request, discovery can be initiated from the change record, specific to the associated CI, to automatically update the CMDB. When Discovery is triggered a status record is created and linked to the configuration item and shown in the affected CI related list.

 

Managing Proposed Changes

The proposed changes feature allows you to pre-configure changes to configuration items and their associated relationships. These pre-configured changes are prepared to be implemented, but do not actually happen until they are applied at a later time.

When you view a CI, the proposed changes can be displayed so that you can see what is planned.

This feature is useful when you want to make modifications while a change process is in the approval stage, and only implement the changes after the approval is complete. If the change is never approved, no changes to records have to be reversed. If the change is approved, a quick command applies to all the proposed changes.

You can make the following proposed changes to a CI:

  • Modify any field on the CI form.
  • Add or delete a relationship to that CI.

When a CI is decommissioned, the CI record is not deleted but is saved in a retired operational state. The corresponding asset is returned to stock or disposed per the requirement.

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CI Verification and Audit

The Infocenter DEVSHOP CI verification and audit process is performed on CMDB data monitored and reported for the following indicators, each further constituting of sub metrics:

Completeness

CIs are tested or required and recommended fields that are not populated. This KPI is an aggregation of the following metrics, according to the completeness scorecard weight settings.

  • Required – Measures the percentage of CIs in which the fields that are defined as mandatory, are not populated.
  • Recommended – Measures the percentage of CIs in which fields that are set as recommended, are not populated.

Correctness

A KPI which is an aggregation of the following metrics, according to the correctness scorecard weight settings.

  • Orphan – Measures the percentage of orphan CIs in the CMDB. A CI can become an orphan if it was unintentionally left in the CMDB when it is no longer needed. A CI is determined to be orphan if:
    • The CI satisfies the criteria in an orphan rule. This criterion checks for specific attributes that a CI must have, and for CIs that have no relationships or that don’t have specific relationships.
    • Data is missing for the CI in its respective table, or in one of its parents’ tables.
  • Staleness – Measures the percentage of stale CIs in the CMDB. A CI is stale if it was not updated within the Effective Duration time period that is specified in the staleness rule that applies to the class.
  • Duplicate – Measures the percentage of duplicate CIs in the CMDB using identification rules. Only independent CIs are evaluated for duplication. In a set of duplicate CIs, the count of duplicate CIs is the total number of CIs in the set, minus one. The detailed graphs for a duplicate set of CIs display all the CIs in the set.

Compliance

A KPI which is calculated based on the result of actual CMDB audit runs. Audit compares actual values of specified fields, against expected values defined in templated and scripted audits.

 

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Other DEVSHOP Processes

DEVSHOP Incident Management

Configuration Management assists Incident Management by providing the Service Desk with immediate information on the CIs affected by an Incident which enables more  timely resolution of faults by understanding what CIs have been affected and changed.

In addition, a well maintained CMDB with relationships will aid the incident manager with a reduced MTTR and resolution by allowing pinpoint accuracy in identifying root cause.  Aiding in root cause analysis is the primary function of a well maintained CMDB.

DEVSHOP Problem Management

Configuration Management assists Problem Management by linking the CIs affected by problems to the Incident / Problem / Change Management processes, and ensuring the CI status is properly maintained.

DEVSHOP Change Management

Configuration Management assists Change Management by recording which CIs have been changed and controlling the status of CIs throughout the entire CI lifecycle. Configuration Management ensures any changes made to CIs are recorded and kept accurate.

In addition, a well maintained CMDB with relationships and dependencies will aid the change management process by presenting the changes with potential conflicts, risks associated with change, and possible disruptions of service due to a change.

 

DEVSHOP Service Catalog Management

With Service Portfolio Management, business services in the CMDB can also be managed by the Service Catalog team and exposed to end users who can then request items from them.[1]

[1] ServiceNow CMDB Process Guide, Madrid

 

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DEVSHOP Process Governance

Measurement

Key Performance Health Indicators (KPIs – Completeness, Correctness, Compliance) illustrate how well a particular activity or process is meeting the goals of the organization. KPIs are an integral part of an Infocenter Configuration Management DEVSHOP program and contribute to overall ITOM maturity.

Successfully managing KPIs can be either through repeatedly meeting an objective target (maintain) or by making progress toward an objective (increase/decrease).  The Benchmarks feature gives you instant visibility into your key performance indicators (KPIs) and trends, as well as comparative insight relative to industry averages of your peers. You can contrast the performance of your organization with recognized industry standards and view a side-by-side comparison of performance with global benchmarks.

In Configuration Management the primary concern is the success of the process itself in terms of the efficiency in controlling changes to CIs and maintaining the integrity of CMDB.

 

DEVSHOP Dashboards and Reporting

DEVSHOP Process KPIs

Item Purpose
Quality and accuracy of configuration information Measure of how well an accurate and complete Configuration Management system is established and maintained.
Increase in re-use and redistribution of under-utilized resources and assets Accounting for, managing and protecting the integrity of CIs throughout the service lifecycle
Reduced number of exceptions reported during configuration audits Accounting for, managing and protecting the integrity of CIs throughout the service lifecycle
Number of RFCs without corresponding CI updated in CMDB Measure of how well an accurate and complete Configuration Management system is established and maintained.

DEVSHOP Reports and Homepages

There are a number of standard reports that Infocenter provides that generate charts, or are published to a URL, or can be scheduled to be run and distributed via email at regular intervals. Users can also create custom reports.

In addition to reports, each user can create a personal homepage and add gauges containing up-to-the-minute information about the current status of records that exist in ServiceNow tables.[1]

 

Get Started Today

 

 

[1] ServiceNow CMDB Process Guide, Madrid

 

 

 

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