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Best Practices for a Healthy Configuration Management Database

Best Practices for a Healthy Configuration Management Database

Discover a health dashboard that helps you monitor the completeness, compliance, and correctness of your CMDB.

What is configuration management?

Configuration management is maintaining computer systems, applications, network devices, and other IT components to help ensure that they perform as expected, especially after upgrades and enhancements.

In the realm of IT Service Management (ITSM), configuration management databases (CMDBs) track assets and components involved in the delivery of IT services.

What is a CMDB?

A configuration management database takes the siloed data that is required to run IT in your organization and puts it in a centralized file to organize information about your IT environment.

A CMDB gives your IT department visibility into all IT resources. It also helps them:

  • Maintain compliance
  • Avoid security and audit fines
  • Track software license and cloud costs
  • Eliminate outages or reduce the time it takes to remediate an outage
  • Understand important service contexts, which helps with risk assessment and reporting

CMDB Data Governance

ServiceNow data governance sets the foundational standards and controls needed to maintain high-quality data that your ServiceNow implementation can reliably and securely access and use. In doing so, ServiceNow data governance supports the maximum effective use and value of data for ServiceNow in your organization.

CMDB data governance encompasses the following elements:

  • Ingestion: Identify class, attribute, and data sources. Auto-populate this information whenever possible.
  • Reconciliation: Set up identification and reconciliation rules (there are no out-of-the-box reconciliation rules). They can be per class or per attribute, but be sure to follow a hierarchy.
  • Data lifecycle: Set up configuration item (CI) ownership and status to enable automated lifecycle management.
  • Data completeness, correctness, and compliance: Configure your CMDB health dashboard to ensure that recommended and required fields are populated; check for duplicate, orphan, and stale CIs; and compare actual values against expected values in specified fields.
  • Data audit: Set up data audit policies for desired state (perform scheduled or on-demand audits of CMDB data to determine which records match the expected attributes, CI relationships, and relationships to other records in the system) and scripted audit (which enables admins to conduct an audit from a script rather than using restrictive template conditions).

Why Use a CMDB Health Dashboard?

The CMDB health dashboard compiles performance metrics that help to monitor and improve the performance and health of your CMDB. A well-configured CMDB saves IT costs and avoids unplanned outages. The overall health of your CMDB is visible to key stakeholders in order to share status updates, track service level agreements (SLAs), and apprise them of issues and successes.

Proactive issue management in the dashboard includes:

  • Managing CIs
  • Identifying issues
  • Improving the CMDB’s accuracy and usability
  • Acting on issues before they become severe risks in your operational environment

Best Practices for Setting Up a CMDB Health Dashboard

  • Configure inclusion rules, which are used to filter the CIs included in the dashboard. To avoid noise in the data, limit CIs to those classes that are necessary to achieve your outcomes. It’s recommended that you include applications, servers, virtual machines, and network gear.
  • Determine required and recommended fields, then use required fields that automatically populate. Limit the number of required fields to reduce the risk of CIs being blocked when identified through discovery. Use recommended fields to inform health metrics without impacting other processes. They can also test potential required fields.
  • Create staleness rules to keep your CMDB up to date and accurate. Set limits by asset class and adjust staleness rules by considering how often you’re discovering these classes. Also, determine whether classes depend on external sources.
  • Determine orphan rules (rules for CIs missing a defined relationship in the CMDB). Consider your application stack and what relationships are most important to troubleshooting an issue to keep your CMDB complete. Recommended orphan rules include: applications should be related to a server and virtual servers should be related to virtual machines.

Data Accuracy in ProcessX

Data accuracy is integral to ProcessX, which leverages ServiceNow’s CMDB. It’s important that data sources are well-defined, data is accurate, and there is a robust governance process in place.

To learn more about governance or setting up a health check dashboard for your CMDB, contact us today. We’ve got industry experts with extensive knowledge in CMDB, regulated ITSM, ServiceNow, and GxP technologies like ProcessX for workflow automation.

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About the Author

John Zhang is a Sr. Technical ServiceNow Manager at USDM Life Sciences. His experience includes 20 years in IT service delivery, nine years in ServiceNow development, and five years as a ServiceNow technical architect. John has participated in ServiceNow projects related to ITSM modules, ITBM, service catalog and core configuration, CMDB, discovery, asset management, ITBM, service mapping (ITOM), and service portals. He is skilled in JavaScript, Java, AngularJS, AJAX, XML, Bootstrap, jQuery, and CSS.

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