With a mature platform like ServiceNow, you see lots of improvements in various areas, but you also see consistent delivery of new and exciting capabilities. The one I have picked up on in the Rome release is the “Data Manager”. Behind my interest in this new capability is the in-built link to the CSDM, with the latest update due. I’ll write on the basis that you have either already activated, or are in the process of moving to use the “Life cycle status”, but just in case this is the link to the docs on activating this, Data Manager is the first product that is expecting to use these.
Clearly, you are in the new world of having a CMDB where the CIs leverage the “Life cycle status” and are (obviously!) following the CSDM to further your progress in the CMDB. ServiceNow have got something new, and at no additional cost, for you in Rome, the CMDB Data Manager.
This has three panels:
- Excluded CIs
- Open Policy Tasks
This is where you get to decide what needs to happen for a given life cycle event (e.g. moving to “In Use” – which is mapped to the legacy move to “Operational”). Using an appropriate Policy you can generate a task, with supporting subflow, to check that the in-scope CIs are actioned appropriately. Policies can be left as Draft until such time as they are validated and then Published to activate them and within the Policies themselves there’s the option to approve the action to be taken which, given the available actions, is highly recommended.
Currently, the actions available in the policies are Delete, Retire, and Archive. Historically, with the CMDB being the golden “Operational View”, the option to Delete will raise the hackles on many people - myself included, however, it needs to be seen considering both the direction of travel for the CMDB and considering the vast churn that Cloud Services have brought to the picture. This is where appropriately crafted policies need to be defined. There are already legacy capabilities that will delete specific CIs (by default) on the ServiceNow Platform under specific conditions. Using this Policy approach provided a far more controlled option, and if you still have no need to delete CIs then don’t!
The Retire policy is certainly one that we should find of value, allowing appropriate checks to be performed before a CI is retired.
The Archive Policy is the next logical step from Retire, and in many – but not all – cases would be my preferred option for removing CIs from the CMDB. Appropriate archival of your CIs (and other records) is important in ensuring you keep your ServiceNow instance performant.
The second panel in CMDB Data Manager is the Excluded CIs one, this one has me a bit more curious. The reason is that I had anticipated that once you defined the criteria to identify the CIs to excluded, for a given policy, then it was that criteria that would be applied, and all CIs meeting it would therefore be excluded from that policy. Instead, you need to select the specific CIs to which the policy applies. Given that the CMDB is constantly changing in terms of the CIs present, it means that the exclusion will not include new CIs without those CIs being (manually) selected, and in so it introduces the need for additional process checks to ensure that the excluded CIs are kept up to date.
Open Policy Tasks
The third and final panel is the Open Policy Tasks one, this is where approvers – provided you require approval in your policies – can review the tasks and provide their approval to proceed. This is not something that replaces Change Management, rather the approval to proceed with the data policy that is to be applied (e.g. Archive all CIs that are “Retired” and have been for more than six months).
All in all, the CMDB Data Manager brings some useful capabilities to assist in maintaining the data in the CMDB, though I feel the exclusion capability should be more dynamic.
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