ServiceNow® Governance, Risk, and Compliance Illustration


ServiceNow® Discovery enables you to create an accurate, up‑to‑date, single system of record for IT infrastructure, both on‑premises and in public clouds. It identifies IP‑enabled configuration items (CIs), maps their interdependencies, and populates and maintains them in the ServiceNow Configuration Management Database (CMDB). When used with ServiceNow Service Mapping, it discovers services, too.


Discovery helps ensure the accuracy of the CI data underpinning ServiceNow applications across your enterprise. It’s also a foundational ingredient in our solution for eliminating service outages.


Realize fast time to value by rapidly configuring and launching secure, agentless network resource discovery

Enable service impact analysis with hybrid infrastructure inventory and relationship information for automated service maps

Extend it throughout your IT infrastructure to easily discover any device, custom application, or data source

Application Highlights

Infrastructure relationships are mapped automatically and are leveraged by service maps

Infrastructure relationships are mapped automatically and are leveraged by service maps

Infrastructure relationships are mapped automatically and are leveraged by service maps

Guided setup makes it easy to configure and launch Discovery

Guided setup makes it easy to configure and launch Discovery

Guided setup makes it easy to configure and launch Discovery

Pattern editor enables easily customized discovery

Pattern editor enables easily customized discovery

Pattern editor enables easily customized discovery

Feature Details

  • Secure, Agentless Architecture

    Agentless discovery avoids the management complexity of permanent software installed on discoverable devices. A lightweight Java application called Management, Instrumentation, and Discovery (MID) Server runs as a Windows service or Unix daemon on standard hardware—including virtual machines already in your environment.

    Multiple MID Servers, capable of handling thousands of devices each, can be deployed in different network segments to provide virtually unlimited scalability.

    The MID Server executes probes and patterns and returns the results to an associated ServiceNow instance; it does not retain any information. MID Servers communicate by querying their associated instance for probes and patterns to run, and post the results of probes they have completed back to the instance. Within the instance, sensors process the collected data.

    The MID Server starts all communications using HTTPS, which means communication is secure and all communications are initiated inside the enterprise’s firewall. No special firewall rules or VPNs are required.

    Configuration of IP ranges, credentials, and schedules are all handled in ServiceNow. Credentials are stored using 3DES encryption or optionally can be provided by an external credential store. Once entered, ServiceNow has no way of ever displaying them again.

    On the MID Server, the standard encryption capabilities of SSH, WMI/WinRM, and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) are used.

  • Probes, Sensors, and Patterns

    The MID Server uses several techniques to probe computers and IP‑enabled devices without using agents. For example, it uses SSH to connect to a Unix or Linux computer and runs standard commands to gather information. Similarly, it uses SNMP to gather information from a network switch or a printer.

    WMI and PowerShell are used for Windows computers and there is support for WinRM as well. Storage components are discovered via SMI‑S and CIM. RESTful HTTP queries are initiated as well for supported targets such as UCS and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

    Discovered information is securely sent back to an associated ServiceNow instance for processing by the probe’s matching sensors. Patterns‑based content is handled by a generic pair of probe and sensor.

  • Application Dependency Mapping

    Discovery maps hierarchical dependencies and assigns the appropriate relationship type between CIs that it finds.

    Application dependency mapping creates upstream and downstream relationships between interdependent applications by identifying which devices are communicating with one another, which TCP ports they are communicating on, and which processes are running on these devices.

    All this information is used to automatically keep the ServiceNow CMDB up to date.

    Discovery uses identifiers to search the CMDB for CIs that match devices discovered in the network. These identifiers can be configured to instruct Discovery to take certain actions when device matches are made, or not made, to maintain data integrity.

    When IT uses VMware, AWS, or Microsoft Azure to make changes to their virtual or cloud environments, events from these environments trigger Discovery to detect those changes and then update the CIs and corresponding relationships.

    This ensures up‑to‑date accuracy of the CMDB and real‑time visibility into virtual and cloud environments.

  • Customization and Integrations

    IT can create custom patterns to explore any discoverable resource. Using pattern designer, IT can expand discoverable elements using a codeless engine. IT can also customize data model fields, tables, and relationship descriptions in the CMDB to meet specific needs.

    ServiceNow also integrates with many third‑party applications and data sources to collect additional information.

  • Quick and Easy Setup

    A guided setup provides a logical, friendly starting point to configure and launch Discovery. IT can follow simple steps to deploy a MID Server, add credentials, and create a schedule, and then complete the process by launching Discovery.

  • Unified Discovery of Hybrid Infrastructure and Services

    Discovery is tightly integrated with ServiceNow Service Mapping to form a unified collection architecture on the ServiceNow platform for discovering enterprise hybrid infrastructure and services.

    ServiceNow Discovery provides a comprehensive inventory of physical and logical assets within the IT infrastructure. These CIs and relationships are populated into the CMDB. Service Mapping uncovers the hybrid infrastructure underlying business services and connects these CIs to form individual service maps.

    You can drill down seamlessly from service maps into detailed asset information, which provides a powerful, integrated environment for resolving service issues and managing service changes.


Discovery Is Part of…

Eliminate Service outages

ServiceNow IT Operations Management

Proactively eliminate service outages and manage hybrid clouds with service visibility, availability, and agility.