ServiceNow has an interesting system for third party integrations called, appropriately, IntegrationHub. There are a lot of benefits to it, from both a development and operations point of view. For developers, they can build an integration application once, and then operators can call it from anywhere in the platform. The result is a consistent delivery of services because all applications inherently are built to obey the rules of ServiceNow’s system.
Coded or codeless integration?
You can do it either way with ServiceNow, but the ideal solution will depend on what you’re asking it to do. IntegrationHub supports actions that execute commands via SSH, PowerShell, and JDBC. Depending on how your environment is set up, it may be more optimal to have ServiceNow use the OpenAPI spec to call a REST action.
For example, if you’re using a workload automation (WLA) platform that’s already set up to carry out complex workflows, it’s a simpler solution to just call the API for the WLA from ServiceNow rather than reprogramming a bunch of steps that are already programmed. WLA platforms typically are better set up to execute multi-dependency workflows that require granular scheduling and frequency options.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re making a very simple integration app that has commands that are immediately “on-demand” executable, you can get away with just scripting it in ServiceNow. Having said that…it’s not really best practice. It’s much more efficient, from an IT management perspective, to centralize as much of your automation as possible within your WLA platform. A platform like OpCon can hold all your scripts in a repository, greatly simplifying version control and management.
How OpCon brings value to ServiceNow users
SMA Technologies built a ServiceNow application that calls our REST API to initiate workflows in OpCon. The initial use case our customers were asking for was a desire to manage all IT tickets from disparate systems under ServiceNow, and not have to create them manually. OpCon, as a WLA platform, orchestrates the automation for many different systems, particularly in larger enterprises. It’s in a perfect position to notice when something goes wrong with a third-party app.
To this end, we built workflows that automatically create tickets in ServiceNow when there’s an incident. The operator receives the notification, and then can initiate the automated resolution process and receive notifications about the progress and completion, all without leaving the ServiceNow interface. What this achieves is 100% of the IT ticket management and resolution process is controlled through ServiceNow. This makes it not only easier to manage, but also creates much better data for measuring metrics because all of the steps are centrally located. It simplifies the user experience for operators and reduces manual errors and dropped tickets.
What the process looks like
When OpCon generates a ticket for a failed job, it goes into the incident table and gets routed according to the client’s parameters. An operator picks up the ticket and they change the status from “new” to “accepted.” It then sends a notification back to OpCon to change the job status to “under review.” Depending on how comprehensively an organization has automated their resolution process, it may or may not require manual intervention at this stage. If the process to fix the issue is scripted, then the operator pushes a button to initiate the workflow and OpCon will alert them to the progress. If not, then they have to manually look at the issue. When they’re finished, they can decide to restart the job or mark it as fixed. The same functions we put in place for talking to OpCon to do this basic task also work for running other tasks.
Another example is password resets. We have a client who uses ServiceNow and OpCon to automate password resets. Here’s how the workflow goes:
- User sends request
- Manager approves
- Task injected into incident table for IT
- OpCon notes the manager approval step has been complete, and resets the password
- OpCon sends notification to ServiceNow that action is complete
- IT tech marks ticket complete
Creating business rules and REST messages in ServiceNow that talk to OpCon
If you want to use ServiceNow to start an Azure server or VM, for example, OpCon can facilitate that. This is just one example, and OpCon can execute almost any workflow that can be scripted. You don’t even have to use the OpCon application in ServiceNow, you can just use REST messages.
You have to create triggerable business rules in ServiceNow. When you create a rule, you specify what action you want ServiceNow to take. In this case, you would tell it to send the REST message that tells OpCon spin up an Azure/AWS/Google Cloud machine. Additional business rules can determine what the CPU, RAM, and storage specs are for that machine. You can also set up business rules to have OpCon monitor multiple cloud machines to keep track of resource usage and scale machines up or down to optimize cost-savings. One of our internal departments has been able to save almost $500 per month per machine by doing this.
Business rules are ultimately up to each organization to configure as best suits their needs. SMA consultants, when installing OpCon, will typically help the I&O teams tackle low-hanging fruit first. On average, around 80% of manual processes can be automated during this phase. Much of this depends on how well documented the processes are. Sometimes people don't want to automate the entire process. They want 1 or more manual interventions. OpCon can help route those to the right group.
You’ve gotten this far, and you probably have some questions for us. We’d love to get you on a call with our automation specialists so they can give you technical answers to your technical questions and find out if the OpCon automation platform can bring value to your business.
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