Mastering Change and Risk in IT: The Evolven-ServiceNow Synergy
While high-level messaging for IT operations may sound similar, ServiceNow (SNOW) and Evolven differ in their approach to configurations, changes, and change risk, each providing unique capabilities. In part two of this two-part blog series, we'll explore how Evolven uses its patented AI to analyze the information it collects. We'll also discuss how this is a valuable source of configuration risk intelligence for our customers, especially when integrated with ServiceNow!
Automatically Correlating CRs, Analyzing Risk, and Ensuring Consistency
To process the volume and complexity of all of the information collected, Evolven uses a patented vertical AI analytics engine that deduplicates redundant information, filters out noisy changes, and makes correlations from disparate, but related, data points. Evolven's AI engine proactively identifies risks of executed changes, prioritizes changes for root cause analysis, and verifies detailed compliance controls. This critical component of Evolven's solution makes the collected granular data actionable and consolidates/reduces redundant data, which assists ServiceNow! With ServiceNow, Evolven is an incredibly valuable database of change history and detailed information, easily accessible through API and out-of-the-box integration with ServiceNow ITSM and CMDB.
Evolven automatically correlates actual granular changes (collected by Evolven) with expected changes (CRs in ServiceNow), using its patented machine-learning algorithms. In this fashion, Evolven knows what changes were planned (from ServiceNow), what the actual results were for all the planned AND unplanned deployments (from its native collection as per blog, and what the impact and risks are of the actual changes made. This intelligence allows users of Evolven to prevent incidents and significantly accelerate issue investigation or root cause analysis to help deliver the five primary IT Operations Management benefits seen in Figure 1
Figure 1 - Five major ITOM benefits
In this area, the working relationship between ServiceNow and Evolven is best highlighted. ServiceNow is the de facto tool of choice for ITSM. Its CMDB is often the “system of record” for all approved and vital IT services, and changes to those services and CIs are “controlled” by mandate to put change tickets into ServiceNow ITSM for directive control.
Where the integration shines is in having the “expected changes” in ServiceNow automatically correlated by the AI in Evolven with the “actual changes” that occurred detected through deep data collection provided by Evolven. As they say, the devil is in the details! And Evolven gives you the details!
By doing this Evolven’s risk analysis helps predict what changes will potentially cause incidents, scoring them based on their ‘risk’. This intelligence is delivered without user intervention, thus minimizing user input to the system and minimizing downstream outages and security and compliance incidents. Evolven helps automate resolution by recommending the changes that will impact services and feeds this information into ServiceNow or any other tool of choice for resolution. This AI-driven risk analysis happens on assets from development, through testing, and into production, providing a modern CI/CD risk gateway that can truly deliver a modern DevOps pipeline with security baked in - upfront.
Drift and Consistency Analysis is a use case that is vitally important to many Evolven customers! Configuration drift results from changes over time, due to manual or automated updates, patches, or releases made by application or infrastructure teams where the system or environment becomes inconsistent with its intended configuration or the documented standard. This can potentially lead to performance issues, security vulnerabilities, non-compliance, or reliability concerns. And because configuration drift can occur in any type and layer of systems, from application to infrastructure, from data center to the cloud, from pre-production to production, and DR environments, it’s necessary to collect granular details of actual changes to ensure detection and mitigation. For example, configuration drift might occur due to undocumented and unauthorized changes or when a deployment was not completed - leaving some of the environment components out of sync. ServiceNow would be largely or totally blind to this type of incident because its default level of inspection is at the CI level! In fact, many CMDB customers face configuration drift regularly.
To mitigate configuration drift, Evolven leverages its patented AI-based engine to analyze millions of configurations and changes across managed systems to identify misconfigurations, anomalies, and inconsistencies. It then communicates a meaningful risk score for remediation. It does this automatically by comparing multiple parameters and ranges across many similar systems to many similar systems. Without Evolven, it would be a Herculean task to manually run one to one comparisons in ServiceNow until anomalies are surfaced!
A final important capability of the Evolven platform is surfaced in a concept called “Blended Events”. In addition to collecting detailed information from IT assets, the Evolven platform collects change request and incident information from ITSM and anomalous events from observability and monitoring tools to correlate changed system state in Evolven. This combined intelligence provides a complete contextual picture for root cause analysis. To achieve this same practical functionality with just ServiceNow or even ServiceNow with other tools would be difficult or impossible given the complexity of the ServiceNow system, the number of moving parts, and the challenges at scale. For example, there would be many hours spent by consultants simply to get collections into ServiceNow. Then there would be programming effort (even if it’s no or low code effort) to get the correct logic flows, and finally, once the system is implemented, all users would need extensive training on where the data comes from and how to get to it. Good luck if or when any collector or logic flow breaks! Evolven makes this process easy.