ServiceNow: A Beginner’s Point of View

Author by Trevor Suarez

Over the past week I had the opportunity to work on a project that required some ServiceNow integration. Being new to Concurrency and the IT world I originally didn’t know what ServiceNow was, what its purpose was, and who uses it. I wanted to share some of those hurdles, and the and the answers that I found to overcome some of those hurdles.

What is ServiceNow?

ServiceNow is a software-as-a-service provider. The platform has a few common features that it provides from asset and license management, to the IT operations of large corporations, including help desk functionality. The focuses on "incident, problem, and change" IT operational events. The main way ServiceNow solves problems is by transforming old, manual ways of working into modern digital workflows.

Who uses ServiceNow?

In general scope, ServiceNow is used by everyone in a business. The general company professionals use the front-end of the program, creating requests and managing their assets. Higher business users such as managers might be making approvals for their team as well. The IT team also uses ServiceNow to execute the requests.

In the case of the project I am involved with, I am working for the higher business user who needs virtual machines or is requesting one on behalf of one of their team members.

Why use ServiceNow?

Creating a virtual machine, even in the Azure portal, can be tricky for some users. Many of the fields in the portal require further knowledge that the user might not have. Using PowerShell or some other command focused program requires even deeper knowledge about the VM being requested, and knowledge of the syntax used by the command program. In the case of the client that I was helping, I \ created a virtual machine category and a VM request form. The category would allow for the client in the future to build VM requests based on a use case (storage, compute, application, etc.). The VM request form only asks for a few variables from the user, ones that are needed to provision the VM. These variables are the non-technical ones such as datacenter location. The business user knows more about the VM’s need, which is why it is easier for them to fill in the non-technical details.

ServiceNow Basics

Now that we are on the same page, I can explain the steps that I went through to create the category and category items (VM request form) in ServiceNow.

To create an MVP for the client, I needed to create a dev instance. To create a developer instance, visit ServiceNow’s website: https://developer.servicenow.com/. Once at the site, click the sign up for developer instance button or hover over the manage tab and click instance. From there, simply sign up with your info and you will have an instance ready to go! NOTE: ServiceNow will give you a few different versions (city names) to choose from. It usually doesn’t matter which one your instance is based in. I suggest choosing the one recommended by ServiceNow.

Once my instance was up and running, I needed to figure out how to create a VM category. I chose to create a category because a category could contain many types of VMs as well as many types of use cases. This would allow a user to select a VM based on their use case and need, instead of having one VM with lots of options to pick from.

To create the category, search for Service Catalog – Maintain Categories. Towards the top of the page, click New. Enter all the information that is required and user the search buttons to the right of the dialog box to help with organizing the category.

To add a Catalog item to the newly created category, search for Create New Service.

Once in the Service Designer, add a service name, description, and content to the page. To add questions to the service’s form, drag the options from the left toolbar into the bottom half of the screen. Clicking the gear icons for each question block to bring up its options. Here, it is possible to customize the question prompt, default options, and tips to help the user answer the question properly.

After finishing the design, it may be necessary to add custom tasks under the Configuration tab. Then under the Availability tab choose the target category which this service will be housed under. Use the search button to help with that.

To preview from a user’s perspective, click the eye button in the upper right corner.

After finishing your work, click save and publish, both in the upper right corner. The new service will be published under the category.

To view your work, search for Self-Service – Service Catalog. Once there, clicking the plus icon in the upper right allows you to search and add the newly created catalog to the service catalog homepage. To add it to the homepage, find the new category in the middle list. Click Add Here to any of the sections at the bottom of the dialog box to add it to the section.

Once the new section is added to the homepage, give it a shot. You should only see one service, which is your newly created service.

For a simple category and service, this process works well. I recommend this process for anyone who needs an MVP solution. This process keeps the services simple and require small amounts initial input from the development side.

Best of luck on your ServiceNow endeavors!

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