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Set up the goals and strategy

Make a compelling case for a better discovery process and communicate how you’ll get there.

  • Document your business goals and highlight how discovery helps achieve them.
  • Get stakeholder buy‑in before deployment.
  • Break your implementation strategy into six steps.

Discovery is a continuous process. You need a strategy to manage it effectively. Before you begin, have a solid configuration management plan that protects the CMDB against unnecessary changes, provides governance, and integrates with key business processes, such as incident management, change management, and security. To set up a great configuration management plan, see our best practice guide titled Plan your successful CMDB deployment.

Get started with your discovery project by establishing goals and defining their outcomes. Focusing on the most important business needs first, drive goals with use cases and business problems. For instance, some ServiceNow Discovery customers, such as Kimberly Clark and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, focused their efforts on the security goal of responding to future threats faster. Discovery provides them with a way to account for all devices, applications, and services within their rapidly growing infrastructure.

MID Server

Each MID Server is a lightweight Java process that can run on a Linux, Unix, or Windows server. During discovery, the MID Server executes probes and patterns and returns the results back to the instance for processing. It doesn’t retain any information.

 

Business goal

Operational need

How does Discovery help?

Reducing data center outages

Greater insights into how infrastructure and applications are connected; learn about business service relationships

Discover network, virtualization, storage, and core software relationships, such as apps hosted on servers. ServiceNow Service Mapping will monitor business service changes and their dependencies on systems and applications.

Strengthen security strategy

Track and monitor growing infrastructure and dependencies; pinpoint where breaches might happen

Discover and maintain all configuration items (CIs) as a result of growing infrastructure, applications, software, and traffic patterns. Keep them updated in the CMDB.

Cloud-first strategy

Monitor changing cloud models and services; discover shadow IT

Discover and maintain cloud configurations. Monitor shadow IT spin-ups and bring them into compliance with corporate policy.

Table 1: Key business goals and how Discovery helps to support them

MID Server

Each MID Server is a lightweight Java process that can run on a Linux, Unix, or Windows server. During discovery, the MID Server executes probes and patterns and returns the results back to the instance for processing. It doesn’t retain any information.

 

Get buy‑in from stakeholders

Your discovery project should have buy‑in and input from the following stakeholders:

  • Server group – Make sure they understand how ServiceNow Discovery accesses servers and finds software running on them.
  • Security group – Expect this group to dictate where credentials are stored and to provide role‑based access to maintain patterns. You need to inform them of MID Server locations on the network.
  • Network group – Make them aware of the network traffic impacts of discovery patterns and probes. Consult with them to learn more about network zones, firewalls, switches, and other devices delivering core business services.
  • Business and technical staff – Communicate that automated discovery requires support from teams that own devices and applications. Let them know that the device or application owner must remediate issues arising as a result of discovery.
  • Project sponsor/executive  Communicate the scope and timeline for the project. 
  • Configuration management team/CMDB administrator – Align with your configuration management team if it’s different than your discovery team. See Planning your successful CMDB to identify their roles and responsibilities. This team or person approves changes to the CMDB.

Unless there’s a compelling business reason for customization, get stakeholders to agree to use the out‑of‑the‑box (OOTB) schema and configuration. Set ServiceNow Discovery as the primary source of truth for all discoverable configuration data. Then use reconciliation rules to ingest platform data to enrich discovered CIs with additional business information. For example, you should add financial data after performing and reconciling discovery with the CMDB.

Look to your infrastructure and geographical footprint to help guide your discovery strategy, keeping compliance and auditing requirements in view. To avoid issues down the road, consult with your compliance and security teams early. For example, one ServiceNow Discovery customer aligns its ServiceNow instance with PCI audit requirements. This created more work for its discovery team but kept processes in step with business needs.

Implement ServiceNow Discovery in six steps

Plan to assign a minimum two‑person team to run ServiceNow Discovery, especially if you have a medium to large network (over 10,000 devices). They should have visibility to the CMDB management team that governs CI change processes or, at a minimum, have clear lines of communication with CI owners. Depending on your organization, ServiceNow Discovery will require ongoing configuration and extension to find software products that aren’t supported out of the box.

MID Server

Each MID Server is a lightweight Java process that can run on a Linux, Unix, or Windows server. During discovery, the MID Server executes probes and patterns and returns the results back to the instance for processing. It doesn’t retain any information.

 

Step

Goal

Objective

Stakeholders

Step 1

Architect Discovery

Outline the overall architecture of your MID Server placement, network, and security requirements. Define the scan schedule. Determine all network zones, when zones should be scanned, and stagger schedules appropriately.

Consult with and get buy-in from CMDB, network, security, and server teams.

Step 2

Pilot Discovery

Select a small network footprint to discover in the pilot phase. For instance, pick one device of each type or select a small region.

Engage network admins and security monitoring teams to reduce impact to the network. Test against types of devices that you consider to be old, unreliable, or susceptible to failure if scanned.

Step 3

Review results and remediate

Review results from the initial discovery, paying attention to any missing, inaccurate, and duplicate data in the CMDB. Establish a process for identifying, classifying, distributing, and remediating discovery failures. Send to appropriate support teams for action.

Distribute responsibility for review and remediation across your CMDB, network, security, and groups.

Step 4

Extend out-of-the-box patterns

Extend OOTB patterns for your own applications and products. Ask: Do these applications require new CI classes, or will existing ones suffice? Most of the time, you won’t need a new class.

Engage your CMDB and CI class owners.

Step 5

Production build-out

Expand discovery to the production environment. Take small steps, such as starting in one region and expanding to others.

Update and communicate progress to stakeholders and get their help where needed.

Step 6

Service relationship mapping

Map service relationships and dependencies to applications and devices. Undertake this advanced step, which requires the Service Mapping application, after you’ve performed infrastructure discovery.

Involve business application and services owners with detailed knowledge of business services in this more complex step.

Table 2: Six steps to plan your Discovery project

MID Server

Each MID Server is a lightweight Java process that can run on a Linux, Unix, or Windows server. During discovery, the MID Server executes probes and patterns and returns the results back to the instance for processing. It doesn’t retain any information.

 

Based on prior deployments, 98% of customers are satisfied with the OOTB capabilities of ServiceNow Discovery to support a large number of devices, applications, and services. To streamline your efforts, start with OOTB patterns, probes, and built‑in APIs, limiting customization except where needed. Consult this list of all supported OOTB data available before you customize.

For example, customers discover these OOTB elements to use without customization:

  • Both physical and virtual servers with over 20 attribute and related record types
  • Standard network devices including routers, switches, and load balancers
  • 24 OOTB application profiles, including MS SQL, Oracle, and Tomcat
  • Software installed with MSI (Windows), pkgadd (Solaris), and RPM (Linux)
  • Application‑to‑application dependency mapping
  • Logical network‑to‑server IP relationships

MID Server

Each MID Server is a lightweight Java process that can run on a Linux, Unix, or Windows server. During discovery, the MID Server executes probes and patterns and returns the results back to the instance for processing. It doesn’t retain any information.

 

Figure 1: The Discovery dashboard shows the progress of discovered infrastructure and monitors issues

MID Server

Each MID Server is a lightweight Java process that can run on a Linux, Unix, or Windows server. During discovery, the MID Server executes probes and patterns and returns the results back to the instance for processing. It doesn’t retain any information.

 

Commonly used networking protocols

ServiceNow customers typically use the following networking protocols to communicate throughout the discovery process:

  • Domain Name Server/Windows Internet Name Service (DNS/WINS) for resolving IP address connectivity 
  • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) for network, printers, and poweringdevices
  • Secure Shell (SSH) for Unix based computers
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) for Windows systems, including Windows PowerShell 
  • Common Information Model (CIM/SMI‑S) for storage servers
  • Cloud‑enabled APIs for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and VMware vSphere

MID Server

Each MID Server is a lightweight Java process that can run on a Linux, Unix, or Windows server. During discovery, the MID Server executes probes and patterns and returns the results back to the instance for processing. It doesn’t retain any information.

 

Commonly used networking protocols

ServiceNow customers typically use the following networking protocols to communicate throughout the discovery process:

  • Domain Name Server/Windows Internet Name Service (DNS/WINS) for resolving IP address connectivity 
  • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) for network, printers, and poweringdevices
  • Secure Shell (SSH) for Unix based computers
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) for Windows systems, including Windows PowerShell 
  • Common Information Model (CIM/SMI-S) for storage servers
  • Cloud-enabled APIs for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and VMware vSphere
Commonly used networking protocols

ServiceNow customers typically use the following networking protocols to communicate throughout the discovery process:

  • Domain Name Server/Windows Internet Name Service (DNS/WINS) for resolving IP address connectivity 
  • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) for network, printers, and poweringdevices
  • Secure Shell (SSH) for Unix based computers
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) for Windows systems, including Windows PowerShell 
  • Common Information Model (CIM/SMI-S) for storage servers
  • Cloud-enabled APIs for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and VMware vSphere
Expert Tip

EXPERT TIP

Set up discovery goals and get stakeholder buy‑in before kickoff to speed up the project implementation.               

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