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Automate Discovery with schedules

Make discovery easy by creating schedules for your infrastructure.

  • Create schedules that run in finite time for on‑premises and cloud infrastructure.
  • Prioritize scans based on critical business service or geographic needs.
  • Use MID Server clusters and behaviors to optimize schedule performance.

To optimize ServiceNow Discovery, set up recurring schedules that complete within your desired timeframe. In order to keep the CMDB current, define schedules for your on‑premises and cloud networks by geographic location or IP ranges. Successful completion of your schedules depends on these factors:

  • Size, location, and expected time to scan  Larger network zones could take considerable time to complete. Schedules that include multiple geographies will also take more time, depending on the availability of the targets.
  • Network link speeds – Low‑bandwidth links can slow discovery.
  • Placement and running of your MID Servers  You can stagger start times and cluster MID Servers to improve performance. Clustering MID Servers provides you with more resources, failover, and load balancing to ensure that schedules finish on time.
  • Assigning maximum runtime  This ensures that jobs finish on time or cancel. If network scans don’t finish in a finite time, they impact performance by running queues out of capacity. Pay close attention to schedules that don’t complete or cancel—you might have to add undiscovered targets manually.

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.

 

“Our scheduled scans take from one to three hours, depending on the size of the subnet and the device count. The average home page generates more traffic than a ServiceNow Discovery scan.” – Kimberly‑Clark 

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.

 

Use behaviors to focus Discovery schedules

You can also set up WMI scans to select Windows‑only servers in the following ways:

  • Multiple protocols in multiple domains  Configure one MID Server to scan for all protocols on one domain and another MID Server to perform a WMI scan on a second domain.
  • Devices running two protocols  Some devices have SSH and SNMP protocols running concurrently on one device. Create a behavior to control which of the two protocols is used for the devices. Use the behavior to prevent executing the undesired protocol.

Heads up!

OOTB Discovery will attempt to identify devices by testing well‑known protocol ports such as 22 for SSH. However, if your organization has changed this port to 2222, then you’ll need to update the port configuration settings.

How many schedules do you need?

Let’s look at an example of how one ServiceNow customer determined the best way to run schedules.

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.

 

Use behaviors to focus Discovery schedules

Behaviors are a great way to focus ServiceNow Discovery schedules on a small portion of the network. Using behaviors also limits the chance that you’ll populate the CMDB with CIs unnecessarily. The use of specific protocols lets you select the ports to scan in the initial phase of discovery. For example, you can create a schedule to scan for network devices on Sunday afternoon using a specific IP address range. And for this range, you can exclude SNMP but keep all other protocols. Basically, you create a unique schedule that uses specific behavior to populate CIs in your CMDB.

Read this product page for more information on setting up behaviors.

Use behaviors to focus Discovery schedules

Behaviors are a great way to focus ServiceNow Discovery schedules on a small portion of the network. Using behaviors also limits the chance that you’ll populate the CMDB with CIs unnecessarily. The use of specific protocols lets you select the ports to scan in the initial phase of discovery. For example, you can create a schedule to scan for network devices on Sunday afternoon using a specific IP address range. And for this range, you can exclude SNMP but keep all other protocols. Basically, you create a unique schedule that uses specific behavior to populate CIs in your CMDB.

Read this product page for more information on setting up behaviors.

Locations

100

Devices

8,000

Time window

12 hours

MID Servers

Four with 100 threads and 1.5 GB memory (This customer created a cluster to share resources.)

Schedule

100

Schedule end time achieved

Three hours

Schedule times 

7 am (33 schedules), 12 pm (33 schedules), 3 pm (34 schedules)

Table 4: Running 100 schedules in three hours 

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.

 

This customer figured out how to use clusters to stagger schedules, gaining maximum performance. Instead of running all schedules at the same time, the customer assigned proper intervals so, at any given time, all the MID Server resources are being used to run 33 schedules instead of 100. This is a great example of using resources to your advantage while also finishing jobs in a three‑hour window.

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 5: A ServiceNow IT team’s (Now on Now) schedule for a data center that uses IP ranges

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.

 

Using patterns to your advantage when running schedules

The value of running patterns and probes is that you get updated CMDB data by gaining deep visibility into the enterprise infrastructure. Before you run patterns or probes to collect data, make sure you do the following:

  • Identify the value of data  If data you’re collecting isn’t supported or used by anyone within your organization and business units, then don’t collect it.
  • Avoid duplicate data  Work with CI owners to ensure that they aren’t already collecting hidden fields of data.
  • Use patterns over probes for any new configuration – If you’re writing new rules to discover devices and applications, we recommend using OOTB patterns over probes. Before you write custom probes, see if there’s an equivalent pattern already. If you need to tweak patterns, use the extension section instead of identification. Explore additional information about creating and modifying patterns.
  • Don’t tweak OOTB patterns and probes  Instead, create new patterns and probes by copying existing probes. Wait until after the exploration phase of discovery to launch custom probes. This helps prevent overloading your system with useless data. This also helps ensure that you carry custom probes through to the next version during upgrades.
  • Always test your patterns and probes in a development environment – Always use small tests in the development environment to validate information collected. Don’t make changes to the production instance. This lets you test the accuracy of your queries without updating the CI.

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.

 

Steps to extending OOTB patterns
  1. Create a shared library for each application to be discovered  Select an existing CMDB class for your new data, such as an application. Extend to your own class if necessary. Explore how to create or modify patterns.
  2. Define a process handler to find your software  This product documentation page provides more information.
  3. Reference the shared library in the pattern to do the discovery work  Read more on this product documentation page.
  4. Set up a pattern to build the CI and extract useful information  This product documentation page tells you more.
Steps to extending OOTB patterns
  1. Create a shared library for each application to be discovered  Select an existing CMDB class for your new data, such as an application. Extend to your own class if necessary. Explore how to create or modify patterns.
  2. Define a process handler to find your software  This product documentation page provides more information.
  3. Reference the shared library in the pattern to do the discovery work  Read more on this product documentation page.
  4. Set up a pattern to build the CI and extract useful information  This product documentation page tells you more.
Expert Tip

EXPERT TIP

Use IP ranges when creating schedules. ServiceNow Discovery automates assigning IP ranges and can be used whenever you run schedules after the initial setup.

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