ServiceNow Knowledge17: The Aftermath


This past week found me in the sunny humid wilds of Orlando as I stepped up for my first developer conference ever; ServiceNow’s Knowledge17.  Having worked in the platform for only the past year, I consider myself fairly advanced in the subject matter at hand for the typical beginner, yet having a long way to go to call myself expert.  With the urging of our sales reps and my own research on blogs, the ServiceNow Community and more, I decided that Knowledge17 was where I was going to start my attempt at becoming said expert.

Despite sore feet, legs and a worn out 43 year old Dad-bod, it turns out that this was a good place to invest my time and money.  I was able to spend three solid days learning some vital skills and plans to help move my own company forward in our ServiceNow implementation, as well as get some solid hands on time for components that will carry us forward into Phase 2 and 3 of our long term plans.

I’ve been sitting here since I got home late Thursday night thinking about what I might talk about.  The problem is, there was just so much information that I absorbed and took in, which spurred on new ideas, which in turn brought up more questions.  It’s just hard to pin down a solid thing to write about.

Putting my developer brain to good use, here’s some bullet points on both pros and cons from the past week:

  • The Service Portal in ServiceNow is pretty damn exciting.  Our current system is built in the previous iteration of Service Portal, called CMS.  It’s old, it’s outdated, and as we’ve found out recently after our go live, it can be a little clunky for large scale roll outs.  Service Portal streamlines all of this as well as gives it a modern and sleek look, with fairly little effort.  (In comparison to CMS.)
  • The Knowledge17 Folks Take Care of Their Own. I paid for one meal my entire time at Knowledge17, which was lunch the last day as the show was shutting down! While it may take you a mile to hike to the DineNow area from my hotel, they fed us breakfast and lunch daily, and usually had events lined up for the evening.  Not too shabby.
  • I’m not as clueless as I feared I’d look in front of seasoned developers. This was a nice surprise.  I’m growing in my skill set, and I’m not knocking myself! I’m just fairly new.  Working in our own instance of ServiceNow, I sometimes feel a bit bewildered and lost and feared that this could cause problems in the light of Knowledge17.  Turns out, I hung in there pretty well and never had any questions as to what was being discussed.  It felt pretty great!
  • I now have high hopes for our biggest Phase 3 project later this year. Identity Access Management is a bit daunting when looking at it for the first time.  We have a project to move portions of ours into ServiceNow.  Seeing some of these aspects in action at Knowledge17 let me know that it is indeed quite possible and while it’s a lot of work, it’s not insurmountable.
  • I was previously unsure how far I wanted to study ServiceNow.  There for a bit, I was unsure how far I wanted to follow this ServiceNow thing.  My department is the only one department in our company using it, and our plans only go so far.  I was a bit worried I might be ‘wasting’ my time.  After networking this past week, I found out how big the ServiceNow market is, even in my area.  So now I am fired up to make myself a bonafied expert.
  • I have a few tricks up my sleeve for big wins at work! I came away with a couple of surprises to slowly introduce at work, that will be big wins for my own book!
  • I have some learning to do. There’s a lot of modules that I took in demo’s for in the ServiceNow platform that would be a good tool to have for our security department as a whole.  So far, the sales side of things introducing these modules haven’t gone so well.  I need to learn how to write a design doc and a proposal and present these to management in a professional way!



Servicenow: The Foundation.

*Note: This entry is my attempt at summarizing what I’ve learned in Chapter 1 of ‘Mastering Servicenow’ by Martin Wood, in my own words. Hooray for study tips!*

Diving into the guts of Servicenow can be a daunting task when you first log into your instance.  Accessing the system by the default System Administrator account that is provided at creation shows you every possible action that is possible in the system. All are represented by a long list of applications and modules down the left hand side of the screen in one grandiose, ever shifting menu.

After you dig in under the hood of the system, the underlying structure starts to take shape and soon, you can see a growing picture of what makes Servicenow tick.  While it may seem scary with menus and options every where you turn, the backbone of Servicenow is rather simple; it is one giant database. Every bit of data you see, is a record stored in a relational database, grouped by named tables that hold all of the related records together.

I can imagine what you’re thinking right now; a giant relational database filled with hundreds of tables and thousands of records does not seem any less daunting. It’s not so bad though. All of the data is managed by customizable lists that will show you all of the records in any given table.


Being able to visualize the list and see how it is broken down, the structure of Servicenow starts to make more sense.  Each row on the list is a record, which you may choose to think of as a single grouping of data.  Every column in that row then, is a field, which is a different string of information contained within the record. There are several different types of fields that can be held within each of those records, but we’ll get to those later.

For further detail of a record, we will want to dig deeper and look at the form that makes up the record. You can do this by simply clicking on the record name in the first ‘field’ or column of the list.  For our example, let’s click on the ‘Room’ record.


You’ll notice the form lays out the same information that is available in the list view, however it is missing some items and may add some more that you do not need in the list.  This form has the pertinent information displayed such as the ‘Room’ label and well as the table name that the record belongs to.  There is a lot more data available to you though.  You can control the lay out of your forms by way of the meta data table known as the ‘dictionary’, as well as configuring layouts and adding additional fields to the record.  Really, the sky’s the limit!

Where the efficiency of Servicenow begins to shine is in the depths of these records and tables, being stored as a simple relational database.  Due to this, we can can create forms and records, that pull pre-existing information off of other records and tables, which keeps us from having to recreate data structures for every different iteration that we wish to package into an application.  This way we can create more forms and applications, with far less repetition of work.  Everybody appreciates a bit less work!