Service-now.com, which delivers service desk functionality in a SaaS model, is launching a fall release of its service. New features include runbook automation, software development lifecycle management, sales force automation, IT cost management, project and portfolio management, visual dispatch using drag-and-drop assignment, improved section 508 compliance for the visually impaired, a content management system for developing self-service portals and the ability to create wiki articles to use as a knowledge base.
The software development lifecycle (SDL) functionality appeals to Nick VanWingerden, executive logistics analyst for Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va. The university has a centralized IT shop of approximately 220 employees that serve 65,000 users. The organization is currently using standalone, homegrown SDL systems that are not integrated with its service desk suite. This means help desk tickets related to software problems have to be cut and pasted by IT staff and sent to the developers. By integrating SDL into the service desk, developers get faster notification of software issues.
VanWingerden is also interested in the ability to group projects together into a portfolio and functionality that tells him the true cost of development efforts that could help him create chargebacks. In addition, runbook automation will help him improve operations. The university's current runbook is a set of wikis that contain information about tasks and systems, such as how to reboot the router. "Now, instead of it just being information for someone to read, consume, and act on, they're building it in so Service-now can actually do something," he says. "It's poised to speed things up."
"Service-now has established a beachhead and is moving into other areas instead of just sticking with service desk," says Michael Coté, an analyst with Redmonk in Austin, Texas. The company was the first to develop service desk functionality on a SaaS platform, forcing the major vendors, including BMC, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM to offer similar services to compete. Coté is particularly interested in the potential of "process packs."
The latest version of Service-now comes with a process pack, which is a small chunk of code, for runbook automation of virtual machines. Coté would like to see the company open the door to the user community to create their own process packs. "If Service-now can cultivate a community to contribute process packs, it extends the breadth it has to offer," he says. The new version of the software is available now, starting at $100 per user per month. The cost decreases as more users are added.