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7/8/2010
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ReviewCam: Service-now's IT Management In The Cloud

Service-now.com has a SaaS model for IT Service Management, and it's aiming at some pretty big players. The company is growing its customer list fast, and it's not hard to see why.

IT service management is big business for some big companies -- HP, CA, IBM Tivoli, and BMC, just to name drop. "Little" Service-now.com, at $50 million plus in revenue, has been taking all of this to the cloud for the past five years. The company's founder and CEO, Fred Luddy, is an ex Peregrine executive, and has a long history in IT service management. Service-now claims to have a dozen Fortune 1000 customers (its customer list also includes Facebook, the New York Stock Exchange and the NBA, which uses Service-now to manage its arenas), and has been lauded for its innovation. In our ReviewCam (below), we get an inside look at how the technology works.

Service-now.com offers several key aspects of an IT service management platform, including a shopping cart-like experience for ordering products from a customized, IT-provided catalog. End users can also do things like report a problem, request password resets and so on.

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The product's configuration management can take information from existing inventory and monitoring tools, and it can discover systems on the network. More important, it maps how those items are connected into the rest of the infrastructure, giving everyone from IT to business analysts a sense of the interdependence of systems.

A workflow engine is tied into Service-now, and while it is ideal for things like getting order requests approved, the company says that data center automation is next on its to-do list: so for instance, an administrator could request the provisioning of a virtual machine, and that can go through an approval process via the workflow engine, and be automatically launched based on approval.

Service-now can support third-party reports, but it also generates its own. These reports can be filtered based on various criteria (selectable from a form), and you can schedule them for delivery, extract them, or even drill deeper into the data. There is also a dashboard view, which is more of a tool for the CIO who wants to get an overall sense of the health and costs across the IT organization. You can see at a glance the services that are running and how well everything is working, and you can very easily change the view, looking only at what's not working well (and diving into the details), or looking at services by SLA.

This is a hosted platform, so the "console" view works in any browser, including HTML5 and on mobile device browsers; it even supports the iPad's multi-touch gestures. These are recent additions, available in the company's Spring 2010 release, which also includes portfolio management, cost management, project management, field service management and shared services (for HR and facilities to create business processes using the platform).

The service costs $100 per IT user (not end users, but those who are in the IT process chain) per month. This includes everything -- all of the applications, hosting, training and support.

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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