Discovery Tools

A common use of the Import API is to build an integration with one or more discovery tools. Tools like Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or HP Network Node Manager (NNM) can discover hard- and software items within a network. Such tools are typically also able to discover some relations between the discovered items. This information can be used to automatically add and update Products, Configuration Items and relations between Configuration Items in 4me.

Integrating With Discovery Tools

Multiple discovery tools can be integrated with 4me. To ensure that 4me is able to distinguish between different discovery tools, a unique identifier should be chosen for each discovery tool. The identifier of a discovery tool can then be stored in the Source field of the 4me records that are generated and maintained by this tool. Examples of such identifiers could be SCCM or NNM. Longer names with spaces (up to a maximum of 30 characters) may also be used to populate the Source field of a record.

It is important to fill out the Source column for each row when an import file is prepared using data from a discovery tool. In addition, for a Configuration Items import file, the Source ID column should be set for each Configuration Item to the unique identifier by which the Configuration Item is known within the discovery tool. Having both the Source and Source ID values stored in 4me makes it possible for a discovery tool to update a Configuration Item record without knowing its ID (see Create or update).

Before a new Configuration Item record can be registered, a Product record needs to already exist that describes the Configuration Item’s hardware model or software application.

Below an example is provided of how the Source and Source ID columns of a Products import file could be filled out using data from a discovery tool. Such a Products import file should be imported before Configuration Items are imported to ensure that all the necessary Products are available in 4me.

Source	Source ID		Name				Brand		Model		Category
SCCM	Abobe Reader		Abobe Reader			Adobe				software/browser_viewer_application
SCCM	Microsoft Windows 7	Microsoft Windows 7		Microsoft			software/operating_system_software
SCCM	VMware ESXi		VMware ESXi			VMware				software/operating_system_software
SCCM	Dell Precision M4400	Dell Precision M4400 Laptop PC	Dell		Precision M4400	computer/laptop_pc
SCCM	IBM Power 795		IBM Power 795 Server		IBM		Power 795	computer/server

After the Products have been imported, the CSV or TSV file with the Configuration Item information can be imported. Before starting the Configuration Items import, however, use the polling feature to make sure that the Products import has completed and that it was successful.

The example below demonstrates how the Source and Source ID fields can be used in a Configuration Items import file to ensure that Configuration Items can be identified uniquely using data only from the discovery tool.

Source	Source ID			Product				Label		Name				System ID
SCCM	AbobeReader9.1.0		Adobe Reader					Abobe Reader 9.1.0
SCCM	MicrosoftWindows7ProSP3		Microsoft Windows 7				Microsoft Windows 7 Pro SP3
SCCM	VMwareESXiBuild164009		VMware ESXi					VMware ESXi 4.0 Build 164009
SCCM	01:23:45:67:89:ab		Dell Precision M4400 Laptop PC	CMP00052	Dell Precision M4400 Laptop PC
SCCM	5691602				IBM Power 795			CMP00207	IBM Power 795 Server

Note that the names without spaces were used to define a Source ID for the software Configuration Items. This was done to demonstrate how the length of the text string in the Source ID field, which can contain a maximum of 128 characters, can be reduced.

The example URLs for the System ID field are hypothetical. The importance of specifying a hyperlink in the System ID field is explained in the blog post Afraid of the CMDB?

Once the Configuration Items have been imported, the Configuration Item relations can be imported. Again, use the polling feature to make sure that the Configuration Items import has completed and that it was successful.

Below is an example of a Configuration Items Relations import file that relates an operating system and an application to a personal computer that is identified by its MAC address.

Source	CI Source	CI Source ID		Related CI Source	Related CI Source ID		Relation Type
SCCM	SCCM		01:23:45:67:89:ab	SCCM			AbobeReader9.1.0		child
SCCM	SCCM		01:23:45:67:89:ab	SCCM			MicrosoftWindows7ProSP3		child

If one or more relations are defined for a Configuration Item in the import file and a Source is specified in the first column for these relations, then all existing relations of that CI with the same Source will be removed during the import.

Important: Make sure all relations for a Configuration Item are grouped together in the import file. Otherwise the last relation that is specified for a Configuration Item in the import file will cause the previous relations, which were added during the import for that same Configuration Item, to be removed.

If the Source is not defined for a relation in the import file, then the relation will be added during the import without removing any existing relations.