Review: BDNA for Integrations [BEST IN CLASS]

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch If anyone has ever tried to cleanse raw inventory data to build a picture of what is actually installed out there for a managed estate, this product solves all that. Data is brought in whatever format and normalized to identify a standard naming convention, but that is not all. That data then has market intelligence appended to provide the most comprehensive definition for hardware and software
  •  BDNA have tapped into Data-as-a-Service and the concept is fiendishly simple – take in data, clean it, classify it to a sensible taxonomy hierarchy and pump it back into ITSM
  • They have extended their reach to Purchase Orders to begin to integrate procurement into a single record of consistently referenced data
  • Their catalogue is free to browse online
  • It sounds too good to be true and that is their biggest challenge – this is something that really works for the larger organisations who have the insight to make the investment but may be out of reach of smaller organisations
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, BDNA’s customer base is more focused on larger companies.They are classified for this review as:Specialised tooling, requiring integration to ITSM.

Commercial Summary

Vendor BDNA
Product Technopedia NormalizeTechnopedia Normalize for Purchase Orders
Version reviewed Version 4
Date of version release Version was released on August 10th, 2013.
Year founded 2002
Customers 100+
Pricing Structure Technopedia Normalize pricing is based on number of devices whose data is being normalized.
Competitive Differentiators
  • BDNA normalizes data across multiple vendors and feel very confident to be able to offer SLAs on the level of data accuracy and completeness
  • BDNA employ a team to curate and add Market Intelligence to that normalized data
  • They have now applied those same algorithms to Purchase Orders in either structured or unstructured fields – so now information can be tracked from acquisition to retirement.
Additional Features They recognise that larger customers are able to negotiate extended products (for example where end of life support may be extended) and they offer a Private Catalog offering to capture and normalize that data but it is not sharable with any other organisation.

Independent Review

Integrations 2013 Group Test Best in Class: BDNA

BDNA has tapped into a concept so simple – it is a wonder that no-one has really figured this out before. Except they have – in endless projects to tidy up disparate asset collections with equally endless meetings to define taxonomy and standards.

What BDNA do is fiendishly simple – they bring in data, clean it up, align it to a sensible, and it has to be said logical taxonomy, and then push it back to your ITSM system.

Their data factory then can pull information in as scheduled and repeat the entire process, until anything all data is defined as either relevant or irrelevant (i.e. too low level).

The fact is the Technopedia Catalog grows organically all the time – and the data can be used to apply to other customers – although they do take care to strip out sensitive information.

The real value is the way they enrich the data with market intelligence – a team of people collect information such as End of Life state, Upgrade and Downgrade information, Operating System compatibilities. They can also collect information like power ratings which can be vital information for large data centre transformation projects.

BDNA will supply their own taxonomy – they have developed this with two or three iterations from scratch and now have a sensible hierarchy of:

Category – Sub Category – Vendor – Product.

The area of taxonomy is one that sometimes has people with emotional attachments to long strings of hierarchy – this feels spot on.

BDNA also provide customers with a real-time analysis tool to slice and dice their information which makes it a powerful tool when you consider areas like compliance.

When they apply this same knowledge to the mish-mash of information held in Purchase Orders and can perform those same levels of normalization – the end to end capability of this software is remarkable.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

There are three phases to their integration process:

  • Identity reconciliation – establishing a unique identity of the elements being managed
  • Consistency across the systems
  • The ability to support the integration in a vendor agnostic manner – so it does not matter what the source is, the information is brought in and normalized.

In the demonstration, it was staggering to see that even within one software brand, the markers differed to a large extent, from the Vendor company name to the software itself.

BDNA bring that in, and define a standard reference from which to act as the root for the definition.

Security Controls

BDNA have the ability to strip out sensitive information, for example user ids and machine ids – they assign an alternative id so that they can maintain a connection to the course systems but that data is withheld as they propagate the data elsewhere.

Pre-Deployment Integration

Even though this is not a traditional ITSM tool, the task of collecting the Master Data is a very integral part of the process and this is where BDNA comes into its own.

BDNA’s Technopedia Catalog is a definitive library of hardware and software elements of more than 300,000 different hardware elements and more than 350,000 types of software.

BDNA augment this catalog with over 1000 updates, daily. In addition to the product data, they add contextual market intelligence about the products – for example compatibility, power ratings, dimensions etc.

This information then be piped back in to an ITSM tool with a single standardised definition of the hardware and software being managed, with the following advantages and conditions:

  • No manual entry of catalogs thus avoiding the errors and duplications that can have a ripple effect on all ITSM/ITIL processes and the integrations that depend on these.
  • BDNA provide a consistent model that works across vendors such as IBM, HP, ServiceNow, BMC etc.
  • Automated maintenance of this model through the Data as a Service model keeps the information current and prevents drifts in ITSM/ITIL systems that introduce inefficiencies over time.

Asset and Configuration Information

Technopedia Normalize takes data from 36 input sources that feed Asset and Configuration data –typically discovery systems from vendors such as HP, BMC, ServiceNow, Microsoft, and Cisco etc.

Once imported, the data is filtered to remove items that are considered non-essential or irrelevant for typical ITIL processes, for example low-level DLLs, patches, tools within a software distribution etc.

They discard any duplicates and assign the data to their taxonomy to give it its definitive name/identity from the Technopedia Catalog, and the definitive information is integrated back into ITSM.

Configuration data is passed from the source system into ITSM after it has been through its reconciliation to ensure that the data is correct as it comes into configuration management, again using the Technopedia Catalog taxonomy.

Additional Areas of Integration

BDNA have made the Technopedia catalog free online – there you can search through manufacturers, hardware and software and see some of the contextual business intelligence as well.

  • Technopedia Normalize for Purchase Orders

The issue with Purchase Orders is that often product data is even more fragmented than the multiple definitions in hardware and software inventory sources. BDNA have established a method of taking the structured and unstructured fields and applying the same normalization process to pull out the information, and align it to their taxonomy. In this way, the information can be integrated across Financial and Business system as well ITSM.

BDNA Customers

From the BDNA Brochure

  • BDNA Data as a Service – we take data from your systems, clean it and enrich it with market intelligence to provide insights that directly lead to action.
  • Technopedia is the world’s largest categorised repository of information on enterprise software and hardware.
  • Updates over 1000 data points daily through the Technopedia Data Factory to ensure Technopedia is current and complete – and offers an SLA on data refresh and turnaround time.

In Their Own Words:

BDNA is the leading Data as a Service (DaaS) company whose industrialized approach to delivering clean data solves the challenge enterprise IT has faced for years in wasteful spending, recognizing risk, improving IT processes and unlocking new value streams. IT data is fraught with quality issues and is inconsistent, inaccurate and incomplete which makes it difficult to gain meaningful insights from the data.

The BDNA solution aggregates IT data from more than 35 supported data sources, filters, de-duplicates, normalizes and enriches the data with market intelligence. The resulting clean, curated and complete data can then be used by any ITIL process including ITSM, ITAM, CMS/CMDB, IT Planning, Cost and Governance, Procurement etc., to improve ROI, increase efficiency and drive decisions.

Technopedia™ Catalog: The world’s largest cloud-based IT reference catalog, providing over 900,000 hardware and software products and configuration items (CIs) in a structured taxonomy.

Technopedia™ Content: BDNA’s market intelligence repository for over 900,000 software and hardware products with over 2,500 updates per day and over 38 million market data points including software EOL dates, support data, hardware lifecycle and many more.

Technopedia Normalize™: Aggregates, filters and de-duplicates raw data from over 35 enterprise data sources, aligns the results to Technopedia Catalog and enriches with Technopedia Content.

Technopedia Normalize for Purchase Orders: Normalizes purchase orders with or without manufacturer’s part numbers enabling organizations to accurately establish what was purchased and map that to actual usage providing data clarity and consistency across purchasing systems and other IT systems of record.


Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.