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ServiceNow Asset Management Vs CI Management?

Assets and CI are two important parts of any organization. However, it is one of the major challenges to bifurcate between the two. It is paramount to differentiate between the two and bring more value to your organizational assets and CI tracks.

What is Asset Management?

  • ServiceNow IT Asset Management (ITAM) is designed to consolidate asset data and automate asset lifecycle processes, which enables an organization to track, evaluate, and manage their IT hardware and software assets.
  • This helps in cost control, compliance with contracts and regulations, and managing the asset lifecycle effectively.

Example of Asset management?

Let’s walk through a simple example of Asset Management for a company that has just purchased new laptops for its employees. This example follows the lifecycle of these laptops as assets:

  1. Procurement:
    • The company decides to purchase 50 new laptops for its employees.
    • The IT department sends a purchase request to the procurement team.
  2. Receiving & Tagging:
    • Once the laptops arrive, each one is tagged with a unique Asset Tag (e.g., Laptop001, Laptop002, etc.)
    • The details of these laptops, including make, model, serial number, and cost, are entered into the Asset Management system.
  3. Inventory:
    • All the laptops are stored in the company’s inventory until they are assigned to employees.
    • The Asset Management system tracks the location and status of each laptop (e.g., “In Stock”, “Assigned”, “In Repair”, etc.)
  4. Assignment & Deployment:
    • When an employee needs a new laptop, one is assigned to that person.
    • The Asset Management system is updated to reflect this assignment, specifying the user, location, and status of each laptop (e.g., status changed from “In Stock” to “In Use”).
  5. Maintenance & Repair:
    • If a laptop breaks down, the IT department is responsible for repairing it.
    • The Asset Management system is updated to track the repair, including the date, nature of the issue, and cost of repair.
  6. License & Warranty Management:
    • The IT department uses the Asset Management system to track the software licenses installed on each laptop and the warranty status for the hardware.
  7. Cost Tracking:
    • The Asset Management system helps in keeping track of the total cost of ownership (TCO) for each laptop, including the purchase price, repair costs, and software licenses.
  8. Retirement & Disposal:
    • After a few years, the laptops become outdated and are ready to be retired.
    • The Asset Management system is updated to change the status of these assets to “Retired” or “Disposed”.
    • The laptops are then either sold, recycled, or disposed of according to the company’s policies.
  9. Audit & Compliance:
    • Regular audits are performed using the Asset Management system to ensure that all assets are accounted for and that the company is in compliance with various regulations (e.g., software licensing compliance).
  10. Reporting:
    • The IT department generates reports using the Asset Management system to analyze asset utilization, costs, lifecycle stages, etc., which can help in future planning and budgeting.

In this simple example, the Asset Management system helps the company to track each laptop from the moment it is purchased until it is retired or disposed of. It also allows the company to manage associated costs, licenses, and warranties, and to maintain a history of repairs and locations, all of which are crucial for effective asset management.

What is ServiceNow CI Management?

  • The Configuration Management Database (CMDB) in ServiceNow is designed to store information regarding the important entities in your IT environment, known as Configuration Items (CIs), and the relationships between them.
  • This is crucial for managing and controlling your IT environment, particularly in incident management, problem management, and change management.

Simple example of CI Management?

In this example, the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is used to track and manage the servers that are essential for the company’s operations:

  1. Discovery & Recording:
    • The company has several servers that support its various business applications.
    • These servers are discovered and recorded as Configuration Items (CIs) in the CMDB.
    • The CMDB records details such as server name, IP address, make, model, and operating system.
  2. Attribute Management:
    • For each server (CI), various attributes are documented in the CMDB, such as CPU, memory, storage capacity, and installed software.
  3. Relationship Mapping:
    • The CMDB is used to map the relationships between these servers and other CIs.
    • For example, Server A hosts the company’s database, and Server B hosts the web application that relies on this database.
    • The CMDB reflects this dependency by establishing a relationship between Server A and Server B.
  4. Change Management:
    • When a change (e.g., a software upgrade) is needed on Server A, the IT department consults the CMDB.
    • By viewing the relationships in the CMDB, the team can identify that Server B depends on Server A.
    • This information helps the IT team to plan the change carefully to minimize impact on related systems.
  5. Incident Management:
    • If Server A experiences an issue (e.g., it crashes), the incident is logged in the Service Management system.
    • The CMDB is consulted to understand what other services and systems might be affected by this incident due to their relationship with Server A.
  6. Problem Management:
    • If Server A has recurring issues, Problem Management is initiated.
    • The CMDB helps to analyze the impact and root cause by providing detailed information about Server A and its relationships with other CIs.
  7. Compliance & Security:
    • The CMDB tracks the security patches and software versions installed on each server (CI).
    • This information is used to ensure that all servers are in compliance with security policies.
  8. Planning & Optimization:
    • The IT department uses the information in the CMDB to plan infrastructure upgrades and optimizations.
    • For example, if Server A is consistently using only a small fraction of its capacity, the CMDB data can inform a decision to repurpose or retire that server.
  9. Audit & Reporting:
    • Regular audits are performed using the CMDB to ensure that all CIs are accurately documented.
    • Reports generated from the CMDB can be used for various analyses, such as capacity planning and risk assessment.

Asset Management Vs CI Management

ServiceNow’s IT Asset Management (ITAM) and Configuration Management Database (CMDB) are two distinct but interconnected modules within the ServiceNow platform.

AspectAsset ManagementCI Management (CMDB)
Primary FocusTracking physical & digital assetsManaging configuration items in IT environment
PurposeManage assets lifecycle from procurement to disposalUnderstand the relationships and dependencies between configuration items
ScopeTangible (hardware) and intangible (software, licenses) assetsAll IT components, including hardware, software, services, and people
Key DataAsset Tag, Cost, Ownership, Status, LocationCI Attributes, Relationships, and History
UsageCost Control, Compliance, Asset TrackingIT Service Management, Change Management, Incident Management
Lifecycle ManagementComplete lifecycle from procurement to disposalFocus on the configuration and relationship of CIs during their lifecycle
Relationship TrackingLimited or BasicComprehensive and Detailed
IntegrationOften integrated with Procurement and Financial systemsOften integrated with IT Operations Management systems
Primary UsersAsset Managers, Procurement, FinanceIT Managers, Service Desk Agents, Change Managers
ObjectivesReduce costs, Ensure compliance, Optimize asset useImprove service delivery, Reduce outages, Support change management
DiscoveryAsset tracking and inventory managementAuto-discovery of CIs and their relationships
DependenciesMay have limited dependency mappingDetailed mapping of dependencies between CIs

Similarities Among Asset & CI?

AspectAsset Management & CI Management (CMDB)
Data StorageBoth store detailed records in ServiceNow platform
Type of Items TrackedBoth can track hardware and software items
Information RecordingBoth involve recording attributes of items, such as name, ID, status, etc.
Lifecycle TrackingBoth track the lifecycle stages of items (from procurement to retirement)
Integration with ITSMBoth are integral to IT Service Management (ITSM) processes
Discovery ToolsBoth can utilize automated discovery tools for inventory
Relationship with VendorsBoth manage information related to vendors and manufacturers
Compliance and ReportingBoth are used for compliance monitoring and generating reports
Risk ManagementBoth contribute to identifying and managing risks associated with IT assets
Support for Audit TrailsBoth maintain historical data and changes, supporting audit trails
Dependency on Accurate DataSuccess in both depends on the accuracy and currency of data

Please note that while Asset Management and CI Management in ServiceNow have these similarities, they are used for different primary purposes and have different emphases in how they manage and use this information.

The similarities highlight how interconnected these two modules are within the ServiceNow platform. Properly configured, they can complement each other very effectively, making the overall IT management process smoother and more efficient.

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