Populate the CMDB

You can populate the CMDB by using Discovery, by importing information from another source, by integrating with an existing external CMDB, or by manually creating a CI.

When you populate the CMDB with information, you create a record for each configuration item in the cmdb_ci table or on one of the tables that extend that table.

ITIL configuration management auto-discovery

The key to any configuration management business practice is the initial and on-going inventory or discovery of what you own. The ServiceNow platform provides three options for auto-discovery:
  • The separate and highly robust Discovery product.
  • A lightweight native discovery tool, called Help the Help Desk, as 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 is included in the core ServiceNow functionality, in the Self Service application, at no additional cost.
  • For organizations that want to leverage the discovery technologies they already have deployed (SMS, Tally NetCensus, LanDesk, etc.), the ServiceNow platform supports integrations to those technologies via web services. Scanned data can be mapped directly into the CMDB.

For further information and best practices for designing, constructing, and maintaining the CMDB, see white papers CMDB Design & Configuration and CMDB Design.

Use Discovery

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 of the items found. This information is sent back to the ServiceNow instance, and is used to populate the CMDB.

Figure 1. Discovery overview
Discovery overview

Import information from another source

Information can be imported to the CMDB using import sets. Import sets find files of information (in formats such as XML, Excel, or CSV), import them, and transform them onto the required table. This process can be scheduled or performed on demand.

To import relationships between CIs, use import sets to populate the table [cmdb_rel_ci] with information on the parent, the child, and the nature of the relationship. The [cmdb_rel_ci] table displays a list of all CI relationships and is useful when importing CI data.

Figure 2. Import set overview
Import set overview

Integrate with an existing external CMDB

If the data required for the CMDB is already being collected by another CMDB, it is possible to collect the information from that CMDB in an automated process.

Figure 3. CMDB import integration overview
CMDB import integration overview

Manually create a CI

Create a single CI for a specific class.

  1. Identify the table for which you want to create a CI.
  2. In the navigation filter of the application navigator, enter the table label (such as 'Linux'), or the table name in the format of <table name>.list (such as 'cmdb_ci_linux_server.list').
  3. In the list view of the table click New and fill out the form fields for the table.
  4. Click Submit.