Explore Analytics and BDNA – Cloud Based Data Visualization Meets Normalized Data

You’ve reached an archived blog post that may be out of date. Please visit the blog homepage for the most current posts.

BDNA provides ServiceNow users a managed content subscription that populates hardware and software models within ServiceNow as well as an automated means to create ServiceNow asset and CI data linked to the associated models.  The content is managed by BDNA so as market changes occur such as new hardware models, new software versions, or acquisitions the hardware and software models within ServiceNow are automatically kept current for subscribers.  A similar type of managed content subscription exists for HP Asset Manager, Troux, and Apptio users.

Working with ServiceNow and BDNA I’ve come across a software startup called Explore Analytics .  The company provides its subscribers a hosted data visualization platform.  The founders hail from ServiceNow, both from the product development and field organizations.  The platform provides a number of connectors for a wide variety of platforms.  They can connect relational databases, flat files, or web service APIs into a single pane of glass and have that data come alive from a library of rich visualizations. The data is connected to live within the source and does not require an ETL to a central data warehouse.  Most notably they have an advanced connector for querying live data within ServiceNow from its web service API.

Explore Analytics technology pairs nicely with BDNA.  At the core BDNA provides a mechanism to align the raw data in IT procurement, discovery, and configuration management tools to the clean and enriched value within its catalog called Technopedia.  The IT data sources can vary across an organization depending on the asset class, business entities, and tools inherited by acquisition.

enterprisee it data


In addition to normalizing the data sources to a master title, BDNA’s catalog also enriches with bundles of related market data packaged together into something called content packs.  You can see a full list of available content packs here.

market data

The combination of normalized discovery data and relevant market data creates the building blocks that can then be combined into the optimal format and structure to be consumed by specific third party tools specialized for a particular business function such as IT Service Management (ITSM) or Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC).

bonded data

These best of breed tools for GRC and ITSM provide application specific business logic that further enriches the data with user provided context and workflow status.  This makes the data come alive in a unique way for the particular use case.

data platform


It is here where Explore Analytics offers a unique solution.  It can pull live data from these disparate systems to provide unique insight all without requiring users to install any server side software. It can pull this data and join it in the cloud without any ETL in part because all of the hardware and software data within these distinct silos have been normalized to the same catalog (Technopedia) beforehand. They have the technology to join across the multiple silos without normalization of course but if reporting on hardware or software then standardization to a master title enables cleaner reporting.  The enrichment of the data from the catalog with items like the open source status of a product or manufacturer published obsolete dates provides new insight not available prior to normalization.

For example, using Explore Analytics one could create a data visualization showing how the software assets in ServiceNow break down in terms of being open source or not.  Open source status is a data element captured within BDNA’s catalog but not imported to ServiceNow.  This visualization would leverage Explore Analytics ability to connect directly to ServiceNow’s API and BDNA’s Technopedia tables in SQLServer or Oracle database.  The Explore Analytics chart below could be embedded using a simple iframe or hyperlink. By being a cloud provider of data visualizations, the content you create with Explore Analytics can be reused in multiple and varied channels such as this blog.

Open Source Software Assets

Click here for interactive version of visualization.


Explore Analytics could also query the hardware products (normalized by BDNA) and deemed high risk in the IT GRC tool such as RSA Archer and cross check those with the assets in ServiceNow (also normalized by BDNA) that have the same hardware product name (or product ID) to pull in warranty expiration information.

Vulnerable HW in IT GRC

Click here for interactive version of visualization.


Since BDNA normalizes both procurement data and inventory data you could create a visualization that associates price with the unlicensed products deployed in the data center or workforce for insight to your financial exposure.

Financial Exposure to Unlicensed Software

Click here for interactive version of visualization.