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ServiceNow wraps intelligent automation platform with web-based apps

ServiceNow has moved into markets where it will be the underdog, and its success will depend on how well the new apps leverage the company's core automation engine.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- ServiceNow has added features to its core software automation platform to give IT professionals more advanced management and security control over their applications.

At its Knowledge17 conference here this week, ServiceNow introduced a new cloud management product that lets IT professionals control cloud resources across Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and VMware; a software asset management program that pre-emptively fixes licensing issues before they adversely affect a company's earnings; and a program that allows enterprises to share threat intelligence in real time, along with several other new applications.

But the company won't ignore the core of its portfolio. ServiceNow has enhanced its Intelligent Automation Engine with features that can predict outages and potential security breaches, as well as predict future performance and benchmark performance.

"They have a ton of operational customer data built up over the years, so they're trying to automate more base-level tasks and create push-button systems, making it easier to handle queries and to route them more efficiently," said Sanjay Medvitz, analyst with Technology Business Research Inc. , a Hampton, N.H., consulting firm.

With the expanded portfolio, ServiceNow seeks to create as many enterprise touch points as possible, all of which appear tightly connected to the core platform," Medvitz added.

But while ServiceNow has pulled away from most competitors in the IT systems management (ITSM) market, the company faces challenges in new lines of business it plans to enter. Smaller, web-based competitors, as well as one or two larger competitors, in some customer services markets could present some stiff competition.

"Monetizing the new products may be good for helping [ServiceNow} reach that $4 billion revenue goal [by 2020], but they'll be head-on with nimble startups as well as Oracle in the customer service management and HR markets," noted one IT professional who declined to be identified. "They will need more relationships, like the one with IBM, to build out these products' capabilities."

ServiceNow adds artificial intelligence and machine learning

Some of the new products incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies, particularly the enhanced ServiceNow Intelligent Automation Engine.

They will need more relationships, like the one with IBM, to build out these products' capabilities.
Anonymous IT professional

But company executives said they want to be careful not to apply the technologies to automate every aspect in products like the Automation Engine.

"Everyone talks about AI or machine learning, but not everyone is looking for a use case," said Dave Wright, ServiceNow's chief strategy officer. The company wants to balance the ability to let customers innovate, with the provision of "functions that bring short-term business value," he said.

For instance, if IT administrators notice a lot of user threads are created quickly and could result in a CPU drain that could bring a server down in two hours, they can pre-emptively issue an alert to cease that activity in order to bring CPU usage down.

This could be applied to many different critical applications, such as an online banking system, to spot security events across a system or notice an increased number of failures with some hardware in the network that wasn't experiencing that problem before, Wright said.

The Intelligent Automation Engine is designed to run a user's historical data through a number of algorithms: projection, seasonal trends, regression and moving averages. It then matches that data up with the model that best fits a company's particular historical data set.

Besides the ServiceNow Intelligent Automation Engine, the company also introduced:

  • ServiceNow Cloud Management, which not only gives admins a way to create a catalog of cloud resources across AWS, Azure and VMware, but also tracks spending from any device.
  • A software asset management package that helps IT staff monitor new and existing licenses to remain in compliance with software licenses and be prepared for scheduled -- and unscheduled -- software audits from suppliers.
  • A cloud-based security program, Trusted Security Circles, that lets corporate security teams share information with suppliers and other business partners to evaluate how dangerous a given security is. Companies have the option to share this information anonymously.
  • ServiceNow Enterprise Onboarding and Transitions, an HR package that automates employee lifecycle events across departments.
  • ServiceNow Communities, a customer service management application that presents customer profiles, the products and services they offer and the ability to engage all customers from a contextual search.

Ed Scannell is a senior executive editor with TechTarget. Contact him at escannell@techtarget.com.

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