As ServiceNow expands its reach and functionality into other verticals, such as HRSD and CSM, new Integrations will be “integral” to turn ServiceNow into your company’s Source of Truth (sorry, I can’t avoid the puns).
ServiceNow has been pushing the level of interest in integrations with each release. There is more of a focus on Scripted APIs, which is giving the platform more flexibility. External services have been adding Webhooks to their offering, and with the release of the Integration Hub in Kingston and the focus on Flow Designer in London, the ability to communicate securely between systems and software has started to become easier and quicker.
Before we get into this article, let us say up front, it will be a little more technical than others, but it’s meant to generate ideas and promote discussions with proper parties. That being said, we also want to provide adequate context for those reading.
First off, the term “Integrations” is generic. For us, an Integration is one system programmatically sending or receiving data to/from another system. For widely used Integrations, we rely upon APIs (application programming interface) for available actions and the options it allows. For Integrations that have no API, we will depend on the team providing the data, to define which data and how that data should be processed.
See the diagram below explaining how Integrations may work with your ServiceNow instance, MID Server, Cloud Services, and/or Authentication/Authorization.
Why do integrations matter so much (to us and to you)?
Because integrations evolve, they come and go in waves with business trends, and having the technical expertise to adapt to upcoming “hot” integrations is key. Acorio is committed to staying on top of the latest integration trends that we are seeing come into play with the ServiceNow platform, bringing to life our clients most productive business tools.
To that end, we have compiled a list of Acorio’s Top 5 trending, business related, ServiceNow integrations.
1. ServiceNow to ServiceNow Integrations (REST or SOAP)
Perhaps too obvious of an integration to be included on this list, we still believe it deserves a mention because it’s the most attainable for new ServiceNow admins.
The REST (Representational State Transfer) API and Authorization is conceptually the same; the only difference between the two is the data that you are sending and receiving between ServiceNow instances. There are two types of REST API options available to you: Table API and Scripted API. In the examples below, we will use the following scenario.
Let’s say that two companies were on their own ServiceNow instances. Company A acquires Company B, and moving everyone over will take 36 months. For now, they plan to keep both ServiceNow instances, as their operations teams use ServiceNow very differently. However, Company A’s Service Desk employees will now handle all triage. The same example may apply to outsourced IT, or companies with multiple IT departments.
The Table API makes a direct call to one specific table and then returns a response, on whether it was successful or not.
One use case for an integration would be synching Incidents between two ServiceNow instances via eBonding. Depending on the company, the incident will be transferred to the appropriate group. If that group happens to be in the other instance, you can transfer the contents of your incident via the Table API. If it was successful, you can close the ticket on Instance A, and it will remain on Instance B for fulfillment. If not, it will remain in Company A instance.
Scripted APIs are custom Web Service calls made up of complex logic that can be very specific to address certain scenarios. All scripting, ACLs, and versions are controlled and defined in each resource of the API.
What would happen if an employee at Company B needs to submit a request on company A. You could have them go to the other portal to fill out the request, but due to legal restrictions, it is not possible for that to happen, at this time. However, via the Service Catalog Scripted API, you can pull the list of catalog items from Company A and allow them to fill out the form and submit the request back to the API, just as if they were submitting it on Company A. The team at Company A can process the request without having to allow login access to the user in Company B, but still process the request properly.
For more information on ServiceNow to ServiceNow integrations, send an inquiry to Acorio. Unless we encounter a fatal error, you will get back a response!
2. Discovering Computers (SCCM/Casper)
How does your company track Configuration Items on your network? Is it maintained in a spreadsheet that needs to be updated manually and then uploaded into ServiceNow? This might be fine for a company of 10-20 people, but once those employees are remote or the turnover rate of the employees with institutional knowledge increases, it becomes harder to maintain those CIs.
The solution is to use a Device Management tool like SCCM or Casper. Both use the opposite approach to ServiceNow’s discovery and have an agent that is installed on the client, reporting updates back to the server. ServiceNow then will connect to those tools and populate and/or update the CMDB with the appropriate data that is specified. The connect can be done via REST API or a JDBC connection via the MID Server.
SCCM: Developed by Microsoft, has the ability to manage most devices on your network, from Windows, OSX (10.6+), and *NIX (Unix/Linux). ServiceNow has an OOB solution for SCCM.
Casper: Developed by JAMF Software, is specifically focused on Apple Device Management (Computers and Mobile Devices).
The features for each can include:
- Software Deployment
- Inventory and Computer Management
- User Management
- Security Management
- Self Service Portal
By allowing ServiceNow to integrate with these interfaces, this will save your employees many hours addressing inventory and upgrades for computers. It means that the user can request software from the portal, and then once approved, can be automatically installed, allowing your staff to focus on tasks that have a greater impact on the company.
When deciding on importing your inventory, err on the side of caution, and don’t overwhelm your CMDB with useless information. Start small and grow smart. We have heard countless stories of those who have imported their entire network with a full software import. 10 million Configuration Items later, they had all the data they wanted, but no one owning it, and their data was almost immediately unmanageable.
Let us help you capture snapshots of your system’s growth, mold it to your image, and you can cherish those changes over time!
When someone asks your Software Development team, “What do you use for bug and issue tracking”? You might hear people say ServiceNow’s “Agile Development” application, or “Pivotal Tracker” by Pivotal Labs, but most likely you will hear about Atlassian’s “Jira”.
Let’s face it! Jira is one of the most widely used tracking tools in the industry, for software and project management.
Ultimately, the decision for which system you choose is up to the team that is currently using Jira. They know how they do their work in Jira and don’t want to learn a new system, which may or may not increase productivity.
That being said, there are a number of features that would allow you to integrate Jira into ServiceNow via their REST API. These would give the user or administrator the ability to trigger a push back to Jira or a pull data into ServiceNow.
Some actions may include functionality related to:
- Demand Management
- Incident Management
- Change Management
- Service Desks
Every Jira integration can be different, as most companies adapt their instance to the way they work, with custom fields on different screens. When deciding to integrate with Jira, make sure you think about all triggers and data that need to come over, and you understand the reasons for why that data is coming over.
We think ServiceNow is the best place for your Agile development, visual task boards, stories, and RIDACs, but we understand the option is not always available. For the REST of the time, there are APIs!
Workday is a financial and human resource management software, licensed to companies for onboarding and managing their users, as well as the company’s financial source of record.
Managing Workday can be a challenging process to onboard 5 people without an integration with ServiceNow, but what about 20 or 100 people? Where is the tipping point?
At what point do you need an integration, relax, and wash your hands of all the frustration?
Luckily, Workday has a few options for accessing data.
- RaaS (Reports as a Service) – Workday allows you to create Reports that can be exposed to the outside world via REST API that can provide you the targeted information you are looking for. This is our recommended approach.
- SOAP API – that allows you to look up, push, and pull a vast amount of content over, as long as you have the correct information to pass in and understand your data. Making sure you know where it is located and then finding it in the API after.
Do you know your Workday data very well? That will be extremely beneficial when working with the integration, either RaaS or SOAP.
Acorio has implemented a number of Workday integrations, and we have seen a rise in Workday requests, even in just the past few months as ServiceNow continues to expand across the enterprise.
For more information on Workday, contact Acorio during our Work Day, from 8am-5pm!
5. MID Server Integrations – Secure
Third party applications are everywhere. New services are appearing weekly. However, we know not every company will use these major services, most of which, have easy integration points.
Sometimes, integrations are not so cut and dry, and are not available to the outside world. Maybe they are homegrown, maybe they are not traditional API based, maybe it is a text file that gets updated every hour and needs to be interpreted and transformed. They are usually an on-premise system that relies upon the MID server for ServiceNow to connect.
We understand that not all integrations are created equal. Some APIs are developed while planning the data structure, others are not. We will take that data and determine the best way to complete the integration. If we don’t have access, we don’t know what the integration will become.
We don’t judge the decisions for integrations, they are all welcome at Acorio. While we will work with many different types of connections, it still comes down to the data we have access to.
Help us to understand your data, and we can help you to understand ServiceNow.
6. Bonus Integration – AD and SSO
When we were making this list, we were trying to focus on the trends that were most relevant to the interesting trends we were seeing, and not common in most projects. However, if we chose to ignore AD and SSO, many would have disagreed. We threw this one in as a bonus.
Active Directory is one of the most common directory services in the industry and used by many companies for managing their user data for centralized services. One of the main reasons for integrating ServiceNow with Active Directory is to allow users to log into ServiceNow using their Windows credentials. ServiceNow connects to Active Directory via LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). LDAP will query the directory based on your criteria and return back users and map the fields properly. This functionality allows you to associate groups, roles, locations, computers, and manager to the correct object in the database.
ServiceNow also has the ability to connect with AD and other potential services for Orchestration activities. For example, creating a new User or Group, adding or removing Users from an AD Group, execute SSH/WMI/SFTP commands, run custom PowerShell scripts.
Once you bring in your users, and they are able to log in, you will then get the comment: “I’m already logged into my computer, why do I need to login to ServiceNow again?”
The solution is, SSO (Single Sign-on). You can connect your instance to an ADFS (Active Directory Federated Services) as an IdP (Identity Provider), and allow users an easy and simple way to access ServiceNow, the same as other services on your network.
So, Why Integrations?
In the end, the goal of integrations is not to migrate users and/or data over to ServiceNow from the source. If that is the goal, the project will receive resistance from power users of the application, and most likely fail to get buy-in.
Instead, the goal of integrations is to help streamline the process for a user to complete their daily tasks. Whether that integration is just pulling over data for ServiceNow to display options, a user interacting with the integration throughout the process, or just the push of data back to its original source when complete, you want to reduce the amount of tedious and repetitive work that decreases productivity.
If you are looking to start an integration or review one that has already been developed, contact Acorio. We want to help!