ServiceNow stops over in Jakarta on its journey to AI-land

SaaS-y business process simplifier adds security chat rooms, cloud management and more to new release

ServiceNow's Jakarta release went live on Thursday, bringing with it plenty of new toys for IT departments and hints of artificially intelligent things to come.

Among the big additions to Jakarta are a redesigned Cloud Management Portal that lets IT teams provision resources into multiple public clouds, with the workflow you'd expect from ServiceNow to the fore. The Portal also lets organisations specify cloudy infrastructure configurations and allow them to be dropped into a chosen cloud. It's not quite Cloud Foundry, but ServiceNow isn't aiming for the infrastructure-as-code crowd, instead aiming to help IT teams help other self-provision resources as needed, but within pre-defined constraints.

There's also a new “Communities” application that, among other things, lets you run and moderate forums and “improve support call deflection because users help themselves via crowd-sourced knowledge.” That's not a new idea, but ServiceNow thinks it will be appreciated by organisations that either don't already have self-service knowledge bases, or want to tie it to a platform dedicated to workflow and customer service instead of adapting CRM to the task. Also new in this release is “Embedded Help”, that offers the chance to “create customized embedded help and develop guided tours” of apps.

Other notables in the new release include UI enhancements to make the product's service portal look friendlier to folks beyond the IT department, the new “trusted circles” closed chat rooms that allow users to discuss security issues with fellow sufferers. Jakarta doesn't make major changes to ServiceNow's workflow engine, so folks in IT beyond who want to build custom apps don' have big new features to work with. But the company's push beyond IT has gained new on-boarding processes that HR teams can use to make sure new hires don't have to learn how to navigate office politics just to get a desk, computer and ID badge.

ServiceNow tells The Register that Jakarta also represents its first steps towards using automated intelligence to inform users about looming problems. The company acquired AI outfit DxContinuum in early 2017 and hopes to use its wares to not just route work around an organisation, but to use AI to put work into queues so that people can do proactive maintenance before nastier things hit their to-do lists.

Jakarta's successor will bring that plan to fruition: the company tells us it will feature lots more AI, machine learning and personalisation. Hence our headline: this release does add a lot, but seems a bit of a stopover given the company's intention to make more profound changes in the forthcoming Kingston release due sometime in 2018.

Full release notes for Jakarta can be found here. ®

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