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Misery loves company so ServiceNow's built anonymous chat-rooms for the recently p0wned

'Jakarta' release also adds software asset management, multi-cloud wrangling and more

Cloud wrangling giant ServiceNow has announced the new stuff that will land in its next release.

Code-named “Jakarta” and expected in June, the new release includes an intriguing new feature called “Trusted Security Circles,” which lets ServiceNow users share news of recent security incidents.

The idea here is that when security incidents strike, pros suffer in isolated silence because letting the world know about their vulnerability invites humiliation and/or attack. ServiceNow reckons security pros and the organizations they serve will do better if they can share their experiences with peers. Hence the “trusted circles,” in which opted-in participants will know who else is in the circle, but won’t see attribution for individual comments.

There’s clearly still some risk attached to sharing news of security incidents, but ServiceNow thinks that giving security pros a safe place to discuss them will pay off in faster identification of threats and faster remediation as the afflicted share their tales of woe.

Jakarta will also gain Vendor Risk Management, a method of on-boarding new suppliers that automates discovery of their security regime and suggests steps required to get data flowing safely between parties.

News of the new security bits went down well during their announcement in a keynote at the company’s Knowledge17 conference, but actual spontaneous cheers erupted from attendees when a new software asset management module was revealed. The company is promising to give its users real-time licence compliance information, automated spend management and proactive advice of overspend or licence breaches.

Introducing the feature, ServiceNow’s veep and general manger for ITSM and product operations made the bold claim that users “will never be caught in an audit again.” Which again drew cheers, and a gasp or two.

Beyond IT

Jakarta’s also going to help ServiceNow’s push beyond IT, especially into customer service. The company thinks it has a big opportunity here because it feels that its rivals in the field are tied to CRM, which wasn’t built to do customer service but became the de facto source of information about customers. ServiceNow’s schtick in all fields is creating workflows that span multiple applications, so that instead of hitting “computer says no” moments due to silos, whichever app or department is required to achieve a business outcome gets told when and where to play its part.

The company will attack customer service in the same way with tools that define a service catalog of stuff customers want to get done and then make it possible to deliver by linking the systems required to resolve customers’ issues. Jakarta accelerates that ambition with tools to deliver field service automation and monitor costs of customer service delivery.

There’s also a new set of tools to create customer communities, to aid ServiceNow users’ creation of forums, user-generated support documents and all the kinds of stuff that lets customers share their love for a vendor in the service of their fellow customers.

The company’s core IT customers get some love, too. There’s a new cloud management tool that enables users to create a catalog of all cloud resources in use, then manage them with a portal that tracks costs and steers end-users to clouds it is sensible to provision for their immediate needs.

Like many other vendors, ServiceNow is awake to the fact that enthusiasm for cloud means organizations quickly find they have multiple accounts, server sprawl, forgotten servers soaking up money, uncontrolled costs and workloads going to the cloud when there are perfectly good on-premises private cloud resources being ignored. If it can capture even a slice of the market for taming that mess, it will do well.

And seeing as ServiceNow has lots of IT departments that think it is pretty neat, there’s a gentle on-ramp to this new offering. The company also relies on IT to spread the word about service automation, so hopes Jakarta’s new on-boarding automation feature gets good word of mouth.

ServiceNow’s version of SaaS is a little different: it eschews multi-tenancy in favor of dedicated instances. And those instances can be upgraded at a time of the user’s choosing, rather than other SaaS players’ “and you all have version N+1 … NOW!” New customers get the current version. Current users are encouraged to upgrade and strongly discouraged from falling more than two releases behind.

So all the Jakarta stuff won’t immediately reach all users. But the company has a fine track record with adoption of new bits: the keynote audience was told that just a year after its customer service code debuted, 40 per cent of users had adopted it.

Happiness, it seems, likes company too. ®

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