Insights Streamline your Clone Operations with ServiceNow’s “Clone Admin Console”

Streamline your Clone Operations with ServiceNow’s “Clone Admin Console”

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. When was the last time your organization requested a clone?
  2. Is your organization still using the standard ServiceNow UI?
  3. How often are you cloning, and do you clone on a scheduled basis?
  4. Is your organization intimidated by the experience or lack any confidence with the cloning process?

ServiceNow has a very powerful console which streamlines the end-to-end experience of submitting a clone. This feature has been called the Clone Admin Console. Be sure to have your ServiceNow administrator(s) evaluate and begin leveraging this new workspace-like interface, given it’s easier to use and will only bring more value in the future in terms of visibility and reporting!

What is a clone?

System cloning is an essential data management process within the ServiceNow ecosystem. How can your organization trust a sub-production environment if it hasn’t been refreshed with recent production environment configuration/data? How will your user acceptance testing processes be accurate and efficient if a test environment isn’t reloaded with Production configuration (note that you may not have a test environment – this is something that can be requested from ServiceNow).

With admin privileges in place, a user can request a clone which will initiate the database copy process. The most recent backup of the source instance will be leveraged to copy data over to the target instance. Read more here about what could possibly happen throughout the process and how the ServiceNow clone engine handles any issues.

Feature: Clone Frequency

Requesting a clone is the first step for your organization to take. This ensures that your sub-production instances match the latest configurations of Production (minus any excluded tables as part of the clone profile). To take it a step further, leverage the clone frequency feature to essentially automate the scheduling of your clones! At the time of this writing, here are the options to select from in terms of calendar scheduling:

Clone Frequency Scheduling Limits

One important item to note is that there is a length limitation. ServiceNow essentially creates change requests on their side to facilitate this datacenter automation, so it makes sense to control the time limits to ensure that their database doesn’t drastically inflate with change request data.

Weekly: No more than 25 occurrences

Bi-weekly: No more than 13 occurrences

Monthly: No more than 7 occurrences

Feature: On-Demand Backup

If your organization has a requirement to push over the latest data to the target instance at the beginning runtime, be sure to turn on the “Apply On-demand Backup” toggle. This will tell the ServiceNow clone engine to take an immediate backup and apply once that is complete. By not using this feature, your organization may have data slightly behind given that the clone engine will leverage the most recent nightly backup.

User Interface

It may not be obvious, but ServiceNow is trending towards workspaces for a more unified and cohesive look-and-feel. This will result in higher adoption as well as increased efficiency. Sure, the instance forms are available for you to use whenever you feel like, but there should be more accessible and user-friendly experiences living within the platform. This is where the company is taking it and only helps alleviate any disruption by requesting a clone through the admin console.

The menu breakdown is as follows:

  1. Home
  2. Configurations
  3. Definitions

Home allows for a landing zone to view status records, request a clone, and review some general FAQs provided by ServiceNow.

Configurations is a page that essentially summarizes your organization’s clone instances and profiles. This is a great spot for an admin to spend some time and review connections as well as add any preservers, exclusions, etc. to a clone profile.

Definitions basically break down the individual pieces that make up a clone profile. From the overview page, we can see exclusions, preservers, and cleanup scripts. These mechanisms help drive the datacenter clone automation and inform how the engine should operate.

Clone Admin Console Dashboard

Final Thoughts

System cloning should not be intimidating and is not a tough concept to grasp. It ultimately comes down to your organizational processes and if they are acting as barriers against this imperative effort which provides more benefit than risks/concerns.

Communicate with the appropriate teams that are operating and maintaining the ServiceNow platform to better understand where holistic efforts are, and how current processes/procedures could be improved upon. Look to leverage other tools within the ServiceNow platform to help alleviate your organization’s pain points of system clone scheduling. If there are challenges around multiple development efforts, struggling to control change, or even a lack of testing, perhaps investigate those processes today and determine if there are inefficiencies present. ServiceNow offers platform features and products that speak directly to improving business initiatives, such as the following:

  • Automated Test Framework
    • Upgrades and cloning will be easier and faster with this one. Schedule test suites to trigger or manually execute a test to minimize risk, ensure test data input is accurate, and optimize analyst availability for newer development. Future efforts can re-run the test suite stack to ensure new functionality is not creating issues that require remediation.
  • Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
    • Understand financial budget to business requirements. Track stories and tasks via a backlog for a unified look-and-feel. Plan and execute sprints to ensure project timeline is met before or on time.
  • Test Management
    • Create test suites, test cases, and individual tests to be performed by a team of dedicated platform testers (ATF can be supplemented here). Capture results for future auditing and assign tests to specific analysts based on familiarity/expertise.
  • Change Management
    • Capture and audit changes performed to the environment to better understand the business initiatives/environment. Gain visibility into which changes are being executed versus planned or scheduled and enforce CAB meetings to determine which changes are authorized or need more detail/planning.
  • Project Portfolio Management
    • Reveal end-to-end visibility of potential ideas/demands leading to their possible project creation and its execution. Track financial consumption/spend against allotted fiscal budget and relate these efforts back to a portfolio for executive-level management reporting purposes.

Happy Cloning!! 😊