Christmas in July: Breaking Down the Common Service Data Model (CSDM) to the Basics

Welcome back to our 2021 Christmas in July. As we head into the final couple of days we have some incredible things in store for you, covering a whole range of ServiceNow topics and experience levels. While we’re going deep into the basics today, tomorrow we’ll be covering HR challenges and expert advice on how to overcome them, and Friday we’re sharing an industry-specific business case pitch deck. So, if CSDM isn’t your cup of tea, we like to think there is a little something for everyone! Stay tuned.

Okay – let’s jump right in. We’re now on CSDM 3.0, an evolution of the data model standard that supports the CMDB framework within the Now Platform. In today’s blog we’re going to cover why the framework matters, what it helps you solve, and then we’re giving you a free eBook to dive deeper into the framework’s four domains.

Covering Familiar Ground: Old Pains Stirred up by New Realities

Enterprise IT is complicated – no argument there – especially with current market realities demanding rapid operational shifts. But interestingly enough many of the most startling challenges are not a result of the inherent complexity of the technology. Out-of-sync management approaches can interrupt the best-intended optimization efforts and put business health at real risk. Some examples of these “wrenches in the works” include:

  • No common data definition department to department
  • No master framework for all products
  • Configuration management database (CMDB) efforts failing to realize the value
  • Too much unchecked “organic” growth
  • Weak platform sponsorship
  • Not knowing where different departments data is going in the CMDB and ending up with data in the wrong place and duplicate data

Whether a single challenge or a pile-up of multiple issues, the end results can be extremely detrimental across the entire business. Without a concerted IT-wide focus on standardizing, integrating, and applying a common approach to digital product and service delivery, a reactive-only operational model will continue to dominate.

The myopic focus on just tools and technical solutions must be broadened to address organizational and engineer capabilities and needs. In other words, organizations must eradicate what could be called the “culture of untrusted data,” where teams keep isolated pockets of information that may or may not be up to date, and disconnected terminology they use to make decisions for strategic planning, developing, trouble-shooting incidents, root cause analysis, planning and executing changes, and the like.

Why is Now the Time for CSDM?

Like our enterprise customers, ServiceNow runs on its vast portfolio of technology. We face the same IT challenges mentioned in the introduction. So it is no wonder that leaders from our own IT departments (ITSM, ITOM, ITAM, ITBM, etc.) huddled to discuss how to improve our own service reporting within the platform and the CMDB. The discovery phase revealed a need for a new way of organizing multiple disciplines and the creation of a single lexicon for service as a base for flexible of application.

“The goal was (and is) to gain the most value from the technology in place. If you’re trying to implement better incident and change, you need an approach that focuses on CSDM from that perspective; if you are trying to implement better ITOM, the approach needs a focus on health and visibility perspective…” Scott Lemm, CSDM Product Manager, ServiceNow.

The Basic Definition

The CSDM represents a standard and shared set of service-related definitions across ServiceNow products and platform that enable and support true service level reporting while providing prescriptive guidance on service modeling within the CMDB. You do NOT need to purchase a module/product to use the CSDM. ServiceNow intends to provide all CSDM related objects and CMDB core tables as part of the shipping out-of-box (OOB) CMDB regardless of licensing. At this time, the CSDM is a CMDB framework focused on identifying where to place data that our products depend upon. In the future more visualization, reporting and analytics will be made available

CSDM is the framework that helps our customers properly build out their CMDB.

  • It applies standard terms and definitions.
  • It provides best practices around data modeling and data management.
  • It helps creates OOB CMDB core tables and guidance on service modeling and details recommended mappings.

The CSDM is not…

  • a product/SKU from ServiceNow
  • a process or implementation guide for ServiceNow products
  • a set of reports
  • Code to install

5 Key Principals of the CSDM

The founding principles were established to guide the decisions made in regard to guidance, entity names, and definitions, how the model is implemented, and how CSDM is managed as a whole.

  1. Simplified, yet authoritative, visualization. To make complexity more understandable. The CSDM is meant to be digestible for reference while allowing for deeper drill-downs where needed.
  2. Standardization. Period. A single set of universal definitions, product use documentation, and OOB tables.
  3. Powerful Reporting and analytics. A prime objective of CSDM is to support consistent analysis.
  4. Ultimate data respect. This includes leveraging prescribed technologies when integrating external data sources to ensure data integrity, a data model that is to be shared across products in support of simplified concepts and collaboration, and consistent governance.
  5. CSDM adoption support: Customer impacts per release will be limited by providing automation and guidance to accelerate CSDM adoption.

Ready to learn more? Check out our CSDM eBook, available for download here.