A CMDB that can deliver speed and agility to the organization it reflects: that’s the dream. But according to multiple research projects, the majority of organizations fail to achieve that dream, usually due to poor data.
A few years ago, I worked as the IT manager for a large bank where the CMDB was my life. I spent my time juggling the needs of IT Operations – who were focused on delivering good tech solutions and weren’t interested in the minutiae of the CMDB – and the CIO, who needed constant reassurance that we were not exposing the company to risk or overspend.
I needed the CMDB to be the beating heart of our organization to deliver speed and agility across the business. My aim was to transform processes out of email chains and into automatically managed services that I could tweak on the fly. It was a huge challenge as I couldn’t get an accurate picture of our assets. What I needed was better insight and comprehensive details to assign IT services expenditure accurately to different cost centers. I needed a way to retrieve the data from the systems connected to the corporate network and store it in the CMDB.
To reach this CMDB nirvana, I needed to gather everything from procurement and asset management, to IT service desk and costs. I needed tailored interfaces for all the different stakeholders – users, IT, HR, finance and management – to provide each one with the information and services they required. And what could I do for the CIO? I wanted to show him how IT spend is distributed across the business – demonstrating that we have the necessary number of licenses for the software we use, and that we use the hardware and software we have ordered – no compliance risk, and optimized spend. For IT Operations, I’d look to resolve issues quickly by replacing manual repetitive, mundane tasks with automated processes.
Sadly, back then I was only able to partially achieve those goals. If I were still there today, things would be quite different. Largely thanks to a project I’ve been involved with at Snow over the last year.
The dream of a detailed and accurate CMDB that no longer requires many man years to truly reflect the organization is today’s reality thanks to automatic population of the CMDB. Cut out manual work, cut out years of effort, cut out human error, cut out reticence to keep records up to date. Instead, maximize investment already made in IT tools, remove risk and create insight to ensure optimized spend, compliance, and business agility.
What follows is an overview of our new Snow for ServiceNow solution, but the same technology and methodology can be applied to any popular Service Desk solution, whether on-premises or SaaS.
Introducing Snow for ServiceNow
Snow for ServiceNow automatically populates the CMDB with cleansed, normalized and categorized SAM data from more than 411,000 applications and over 68,000 software publishers. By exposing data about software installed, hardware used and users, organizations can make smart, informed decisions. For example, by including information about the version of a piece of software a user has issue with and the hardware environment it’s running on, service desk personnel have a better understanding of the issue from the outset.
Software requests can be automated, even to the point of approving only if licenses are available, flagging IT to buy additional licenses, remove unused licenses or take some other action to upgrade the current license agreement. Software requests can be completed in a matter of minutes, instead of the weeks it can take when they are processed manually. The company remains firmly in control – reducing risk, optimizing spend, increasing productivity and satisfying users.
And all with clean data.
As various research has highlighted, apart from the labor costs, the real struggle in creating an effective CMDB lies in tackling the issue of dirty data. When different parts of the organization (or different technologies) provide input data, there is no guarantee that they will all follow naming conventions (if indeed there are any).
By automatically populating the CMDB with clean and normalized data, the result is a consistent software model which improves the data quality for numerous processes such as populating the Product Catalog, the Service Catalog, the CMDB, Service Management and Procurement.
Any IT manager worth his salt knows that implementing ServiceNow is a long-term investment. With a one-time investment in Snow for ServiceNow you can ensure your CMDB continues to beat as your IT estate evolves.
If you are struggling to get your CMDB working, even if you have already invested several years of effort, sign up to this on-demand webinar : Building a superior CMDB: The Insider's view with ServiceNow consultant, Paul ‘Doc’ Burnham and Forrester Principal Analyst, Robert Stroud, get your organization moving up to the next level.