ServiceNow is changing their support model from an n-2 to an n-1 model in conjunction with the release of London.
As a result of ServiceNow shortening their support window, companies who don’t currently upgrade to the latest ServiceNow release are going to need to revisit their approach. Once London is released, you’ll need to be on either London or Kingston in order to receive ServiceNow support.
N-2 vs N-1
Prior to the London release, ServiceNow has had an n-2 support model. This means that ServiceNow support is provided to all users that are on the most current version of the platform, abbreviated as “n,” and up to 2 major releases prior. So at the time of posting, support is available for Kingston, Jakarta, and Istanbul.
ServiceNow has also allowed customers to opt-out of upgrades and stay on old versions indefinitely, albeit without any technical support available. However, due to platform security and stability concerns, this is now changing. Beginning with the release of ServiceNow London this September, ServiceNow will be moving to an n-1 support model, meaning that support is provided for the current version (London) and 1 major release prior (Kingston). Furthermore, in 2019, they will likely be mandating upgrades without an option to opt-out.
Moving to an Annual Upgrade Cycle
Moving to an annual upgrade cycle isn't an easy task on your to-do list. It takes time and resources to adequately plan, develop, and test all the changes before moving into your production environment. Admins need to be trained on process changes and new functionality. All of this can take months to complete, especially if you don’t have a ServiceNow admin available to orchestrate everything.
Things get a bit dicey too if you have a significant amount of custom code built into your platform. The ServiceNow platform won’t touch custom code during your upgrade because changes would break it, leaving you with a broken platform. Instead, it marks any custom code as a “skip,” and someone from your team has to manually review these skips every year.
There are, however, considerable benefits that come with annual updates. By staying up to date, you will leverage ServiceNow’s substantial R&D investment in the product. According to their 2017 year-end report, ServiceNow invested more than $370 million in R&D. This includes new features, product enhancements, bug fixes, and security updates. With upgrades comes support by ServiceNow’s technical support team as well.
Be Careful what you Customize
The discussion should be how to configure not customize. Configurations are resilient to upgrades. We’ve seen both ends of the spectrum: customers with only a small handful of skips to review and update and others with thousands of skips to be addressed with each upgrade.
When upgrading every 2 or 3 years, skips are fairly manageable. However, now that you’re staring down the barrel of required annual upgrades, that customization will only burn up time and resources--of which could have been used on other mission-critical projects.
Reality is, there are valid reasons to build custom code into your ServiceNow platform. Just keep in mind that the rule of thumb for customizing is to make sure you’ve exhausted all the out-of-the-box configurations first. Plus, the no-code workflows in Kingston make it even easier to configure your system.
Don’t Undertake the Journey Alone
With the big changes to ServiceNow support on the horizon, and you may be thinking, “I don’t have the resources for yearly upgrades” or “How am I going to hire a part- or full-time ServiceNow admin.” These are common thoughts.
The good news is, with the right ServiceNow partner, you won’t have to shoulder the risk of hiring additional staff. Your partner can perform an upgrade readiness audit to prepare your organization for the newest ServiceNow instance, manage the upgrade process from beginning to end, or just augment your team where you need it most. Plus, if there's ways to better leverage the platform, they'll identify those for you as you work through the upgrade.
Are You Ready to Upgrade to London?
If so, we can help. Reach out to us at LetsTalk@crossfuze.com.