The ITAM Review

News, reviews and resources for worldwide ITAM, SAM and Licensing professionals.

Review: ServiceNow for SAM

This independent review of the Berlin release from ServiceNow is part of our 2012 SAM Tools Review. See all participants and terms of the review here.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch ITAM & ITSM repositories on a common platform
Strengths One organically developed cloud platform for ITAM & ITSM
Weaknesses No software recognition database
Primary Market Focus Mid-market to Large enterprises, ITAM as CMDB/ITSM expansion.

Commercial Summary

Vendor ServiceNow
Product n/a
Version reviewed Berlin
Date of version release July 2012
Year founded 2004
Customers “We have more than 1500 mostly enterprise customers. The majority of these use the built-in CMDB to track service assets. Many customers are already taking advantage of the asset repository to separate configuration items and assets.”
End points managed “The average number of CIs in a typical customer CMDB is 187,000. We have approximately 1,100 customers using the ServiceNow repository for asset data. Therefore our customers have more than 200 million CIs or devices under management.”
Pricing “ServiceNow’s IT Service Automation Suite pricing is based on a per user subscription model with volume, term, and infrastructure discounts available. The Suite includes full use of ALL applications within the suite, all hosting infrastructure, one or more non-production sandbox instances, high availability, redundancy and disaster recovery, customer support, and all upgrades. Note: Discovery and Orchestration are licensed separately. Additionally, the Service Automation Platform is licensed separately for customer application development.”
License Options Subscription, SaaS

Independent Review

ServiceNow has gained significant traction in the IT Service Management field with their cloud-based platform. The ‘Berlin’ release of ServiceNow made available in September 2012 includes significant enhancements for IT Asset Management.

For network inventory, customers can integrate their existing systems management tools into ServiceNow or use a built-in agentless discovery tool at an additional cost. We reviewed ‘ServiceNow Discovery’ in November 2011 – see the review here.

ServiceNow claim their customers are requesting more ITAM features for audit defence and addressing software spend and savings. Berlin is certainly a great start with Enterprise level SAM features such as managing different license types, tight integration with their ITSM service request platform and license management logic.

The ITAM and CMDB repositories are stored in separate tables but can relate to each other’s properties. The goal is to deliver accurate ITAM without cluttering up the CMDB; similarly ITAM can deliver their key requirements without the noise of technical and operational detail.

“ITAM and configuration management are closely related, but have different goals. The ITAM repository tracks financial information of company property, while the configuration management database (CMDB) tracks configuration item (CI) details and relationships that support business services.”

There are instances when an item might be a CI, or might be an Asset, or might be both.

For example:

  • CI only – VLANs, ports, switches, IP addresses, Clusters
  • Asset only – consumable item, License, contract
  • CI & Asset – SQL Server

The result is a strong ITAM model. IT Asset Managers can build their repository but also leverage configuration items and the service delivery model to automate some of the leg work of ITAM lifecycle processes such as ordering, fulfilment, deployment and stock holding.

For the purposes of license management, applications in use can be normalized and managed against ‘Software Counters’ to which licensing types and rules can be applied. License types include by core, by processor, by user, by workstation and IBM PVU.

It’s a great start from ServiceNow; my only gripe is the software recognition. Large enterprises facing a daily fire hose of application data have to recognize applications manually.

ServiceNow have taken the strategic decision to partner with other software catalogue providers (such as BDNA) rather than starting from scratch with their own library.

The premise is to be able to “Automate your IT asset lifecycle on one platform” but using ServiceNow in isolation with manual recognition reliant on Add/Remove programs is far too labour intensive. Similarly suite recognition and downgrade rights must be applied manually. ServiceNow’s closest competitors in this review have inbuilt or embedded OEM software recognition databases.

2 Minute Video Introduction – ServiceNow Discovery

ServiceNow Customers

From the ServiceNow Brochure:

“Most organizations can gain immediate and real-cost savings from an IT asset management program, in addition to compliance benefits. ServiceNow helps achieve both goals. ServiceNow IT asset management helps IT decision- makers get the most out of assets at every stage of the life cycle through management of the physical, financial, and service attributes of IT hardware, software, and virtual assets. ServiceNow helps take the pain out of software asset management through automation of software license tracking. Manage a wide variety of license types, including those based on CPU types, location, named users, subscriptions, and much more. You can also extend the model to accommodate licenses based on any configuration item (CI) type.”


Click to enlarge.

Further Information

About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource for worldwide ITAM professionals. The ITAM Review is best known for its weekly newsletter of all the latest industry updates, LISA training platform, Excellence Awards and conferences in UK, USA and Australia.

Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.

Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).

When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.


  1. Liam McGlynn says:

    Have you considered constructing a practical equivalent of the “Magic Quadrant” for both ITAM and ITSM products? Whereas Gartner and Forrester are tilted toward a market view, you could present a view that appeals to feet-on-the-ground IT folks responsible for evaluating and selecting the product. Of course, this puts the magazine in the crosshairs of software vendors but also makes you a desirable source of reference material.

  2. itsmreview says:

    Thanks Liam. It’s ‘on the roadmap’ 🙂

  3. If anyone having information about how to implement ITAM module please explore it. I need it

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