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ITIL Configuration Management

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Note: This article applies to Fuji and earlier releases. For more current information, see Configuration Management at

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Note: The latest release that this documentation applies to is Fuji. For documentation on the Geneva release of Configuration Management, see Configuration Management at


Build and maintain the logical service configurations of the infrastructure and application domains that support a service. These logical service configurations are mapped with the physical configuration / inventory data of the supporting infrastructure and application elements in the respective domains. They track the physical and logical state of IT service elements and associate incidents to the state of service elements, which helps in analyzing trends and reducing problems and incidents.

The configurations are stored in a configuration management database (CMDB) which consists of entities, called Configuration Items (CI), that are part of your environment. A CI may be:

  • A physical entity, such as a computer or router
  • A logical entity, such as an instance of a database
  • Conceptual, such as a Requisition Service

In each case, there are attributes about the CI that you want to maintain, and there is control you want to have over the CI. There are changes that may need to be made and tracked against the CI. Also, to be sure, a CI does not exist on its own. CI's have dependencies and relationship with other CI's. For example, the loss of a bank of disk drives may take a database instance down, which affects the requisition service that the HR department uses to order equipment for new employees.

It is this relationship data that makes the CMDB a powerful decision support tool. Understanding the dependencies and other relationships among your CIs can tell you, for example, exactly who and what is affected by the loss of that bank of disk drives. When you find out that a router has failed, you will be able to assess the effect of that outage. When you decide to upgrade the processor in a server, you can tell who or what will be affected during the outage.

Configuration Items are a personal issue, because each customer has a unique environment. Details about the exact physical attributes of a computer may be needed by one customer, but may just represent meaningless data to another. ServiceNow therefore provides a mechanism to easily define new classes of Configuration Items and new relationships that may exist between CI's. New classes can be defined that extend other classes. For example, a laptop class exists that extends the computer class. The computer class itself extends the base CI class. Customer class extensions are automatically part of the ServiceNow environment and blend seamlessly into the integration points for other ITIL processes.

Relationships between CI's can be displayed in a hierarchical fashion, and adding or removing relationship instances is done with a simple double-click of your mouse. For a more detailed description of relationships click here.


The key to any Configuration Management business practice is the initial and on-going inventory or discovery of what you own. ServiceNow provides three options for auto-discovery:

1. Our separate and highly robust Discovery product. You can view and administer CIs as necessary in the CMDB.

2. ServiceNow provides a lightweight native discovery tool, 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. You can view and administer CIs as necessary in the CMDB.

3. For organizations that want to leverage the discovery technologies they already have deployed (SMS, Tally NetCensus, LanDesk etc.), ServiceNow can support integration to those technologies via Web Services. Scanned data can be mapped directly into the CMDB.


The CMDB has relationships with IT service management processes in the following areas.

ITIL Incident Management

Configuration Management assists Incident Management by: providing the Service Desk with immediate information on the CIs affected, and more timely resolution of faults by understanding what CIs have been affected and changed.

ITIL Problem Management

Configuration Management assists Problem Management by: linking the CIs affected by problems to the incident / problem / change management processes, and ensuring the CI status is properly maintained.

ITIL Change Management

Configuration Management assists Change Management by: recording which CIs have been changed and controlling the status of CIs throughout the entire CI lifecycle. Configuration Management ensures any changes made to CIs are recorded and kept accurate.

ITIL Service Catalog Management

With Service Portfolio Management, Business Services in the CMDB can also be managed by the Service Catalog team, and exposed to end-users who can then request items from them.

Financial Management

With the Cost Management Plugin, costs can be associated with configuration items, so that the cost associated with Configuration Management can be tracked, and bundled into expense lines, budgets, or cost centers.