Happy September everyone! There are a variety of tools for getting asset data into the CMDB, but what I’ve recently noticed is many folks aren’t aware of the Data Management Tool (DMT) that comes with the installation of the ITSM Suite beginning with version 8.0. For this blog, I’d like to spend a little time shedding light on using DMT to import CI information how you can use this functionality in your environment.
Prior to the release of BMC Remedy Asset Management (and BMC Atrium CMDB) version 8.0, CIs and their associated attributes were stored entirely within the CMDB. For example, you could access and import a Computer System record directly into one form: BMC.CORE:BMC_ComputerSystem. Starting in 8.0 a CI is composed of data from the CMDB as well as a new form called AST:Attributes. This new structure was implemented for a number of reasons that benefit the user, however this means that importing new CIs is now a two-step process: first, an import into the CMDB attributes into the CI’s CMDB Class form and second, an import of lifecycle attributes into the AST:Attributes record that was generated during the first import.
Doing this manually takes careful consideration. After importing the CI attributes into the CMDB class, you’ll need to run Reconciliation on those attributes so that a ReconciliationIdentity is assigned and an AST:Attributes record is created. After these steps, you then match up the ReconciliationIdentity of the newly imported CMDB record to the remaining lifecycle attributes, and import those into the newly created AST:Attributes record.
The advantage of using the DMT is that this entire process is handled by the job. Instead of multiple imports and matching up the ReconciliationIdentity, administrators only need to populate one spreadsheet. The DMT job handles the rest.
How do I use the DMT?
For those of you new to using DMT, my first recommendation would be to thoroughly review the online documentation pertaining to the tool. There are a number of configuration settings to consider after an ITSM installation prior to using the tool, and I would recommend using this documentation to ensure you have things set according to the needs of your environment.
If you’ve used DMT before and are now ready to move forward, then the first step would be to download the “Transactional_CI” spreadsheet (in 8.1 SP2, users can also access the “Transactional_CI_Express” spreadsheet for greatly expanded capability) from the Spreadsheet Management Console:
- Select Data Management->Spreadsheet Management from the fly-out menu on the home page
- Select “BMC Template” in the ‘Spreadsheet Type’ drop-down. This will return a list of spreadsheets available to load into DMT out of the box.
- Navigate to the spreadsheet with a ‘Description’ of “Transactional CI” and highlight the row
- In the menu above the spreadsheet table, click “Download.” This will give you a pop-up from which you can save the spreadsheet locally.
Once you’ve downloaded the spreadsheet, you can begin to populate your CI information. In the spreadsheet, you’ll notice 5 tabs associated to different classes:
As I mentioned starting in 8.1 SP2, users can use the “Transactional_CI_Express” spreadsheet for expanded capabilities. This new spreadsheet will have the above 5 classes plus an additional 15 new classes:
When you click on one of the tabs representing a class, you’ll notice that each column represents an attribute
Fill in the information you would like to import, keeping in compliance with the directions established in row 1 of each tab. An additional enhancement with 8.1 SP2 is that each spreadsheet includes macros that can do the following:
- Remove leading and trailing spaces found in the data
- Date/time columns will be converted to the appropriate format
- Cells will be formatted as text (this function is not optional)
Once the spreadsheet is complete, you can now begin to load your data. There are actually two ways to load your spreadsheet back into the DMT; through Spreadsheet Management or in the Load step of the job. Both steps are documented in the online documentation I previously linked to. As I walk through loading and running the job, I’ll be loading the spreadsheet in the ‘Load’ step of the job. To do this, you would follow these steps:
- Select ‘Data Management->Job Console’ from the fly-out menu
- Click ‘Create’ or ‘Job Functions->Create Job’. A new Job record will come up.
- Fill in the information in the appropriate fields (i.e. Job Name, Company) and click Save. The Steps panel should appear.
- In the ‘Create’ menu under “Steps”, select “Using BMC Templates”
- A Job Template pop-up will appear. Click “Transactional” in the ‘Category’ drop-down and select the ‘CI-CMDB’ template. You’ll see a pop-up warning to run this job as a stand-alone job. Essentially, this is warning you if you are loading CI relationships as well to run this job first.
- In the Load step, highlight “Load CI” and click “View”. The Step will appear
- In the attachment pool, click “Add” to upload the spreadsheet. A pop-up will appear that will allow you to navigate to your local copy of the spreadsheet.
- Save the Step and go back to the Job by clicking the breadcrumb trail or the ‘Back’ button in the Console menu
- Move the job status from “Draft” to “Built” and Save
- Click “Run”
If the spreadsheet was filled out properly, the job should take care of the rest. You’ll notice a warning message that appears after clicking "Run":
This is normal. Once the job has completed, you should be able to access your CIs through Asset Management.
If you run into issues during this process, or for those of you simply curious, it can be helpful to know what's going on in the background. At a high level, the job is following these steps:
- Through the UDM integration, Spoon pushes the CMDB attributes into a new record into the BMC.ITSM.CI.DATA dataset of the CMDB. Keep in mind this happens during the Load step; DMT does not validate the CMDB attributes as this can be done through the CMDB processes such as Normalization and Reconciliation
- Spoon pushes the lifecycle attributes into a new record in the AST:LoadAttributes form
- DMT initiates Reconciliation on the BMC.ITSM.CI.DATA dataset
- The corresponding AST:Attributes record is created through workflow
- DMT validates the AST:LoadAttributes record
- If successful, DMT promotes the information in AST:LoadAttributes to the AST:Attributes record created in step 4
For data errors captured during validation, please review the online document. For issues not related to data, the arcarte.log is a good place to start. This can be found in the install directory of your Remedy application, under the ‘db’ directory. By default, jobs are configured to capture “Minimal” logging . If you need to capture more granular logging, you can access ‘Atrium Integrator Jobs’ from the Data Management Job Console and adjust logging level by job, ‘Rowlevel’ being the most verbose.
For some additional tips, one of my colleagues wrote a good Knowledge Article for troubleshooting DMT/UDM issues (Note: must have a support ID to view KA articles).
For those who’ve shied away from using DMT as one method for importing CIs, hopefully this blog has helped to illustrate why you might want to consider using it the next time you have a new batch of assets to import. Although this method shouldn’t be considered a substitute for regular imports from a discovery tool, I believe, especially with some of the enhancements made with 8.1 SP2, this is a viable method for importing Asset data into your environment.
Thanks for reading! Please share your experiences or feel free to ask questions in the comments section below, and don’t forget to provide me feedback by rating this blog!
For additional blogs, please see BMC Remedy Support Blogs.