All you need to know about ServiceNow releases

All you need to know about ServiceNow releases

8 minutes

What are ServiceNow releases?

ServiceNow releases are twice yearly version upgrades. Intended to improve the overall performance of the platform, the upgrades also typically include new modules, applications or enhancements, as well as fixes for existing products. All releases are named after a city.

Upgrading your instance to a new release requires planning, testing and validation. In fact, system upgrades can be significant projects. Each ServiceNow feature release includes major additions, so you should always consider the impact of a new functionality on an instance.

ServiceNow releases - plan, test, validate

Upgrading involves implementing enhancements to all features that are part of the base system, or are already active, unless the feature is customized on your instance.

How often does ServiceNow make releases available?

ServiceNow has a strong history of delivering updates to ensure maximum performance and improve functionalities. Since the Kingston release in Q1 2019, ServiceNow plans two feature releases per year in two non-consecutive quarters.

In between these feature releases ServiceNow provides patch releases with a collection of all known problem fixes to date that are eventually automatically deployed to customer instance.

Do I need to upgrade my instances with every new feature release?

ServiceNow supports the current and previous release. Your instances will continue to function if you choose not to upgrade with the latest release, but this means that ServiceNow cannot guarantee the performance or safety of your systems.

ServiceNow Washington DC Release unpacked

Will I be part of the Patching Program if I am on an unsupported release family?

The Patching Program does not schedule patches on unsupported release families. ServiceNow offers product support for supported release families only.

Can I stay on an unsupported release family, knowing the risks?

No. You must upgrade your instances to supported versions in order to get the latest security, performance, and availability updates.

What is the next ServiceNow release?

The next ServiceNow release, Washington DC, is scheduled to be released publicly in late March 2024.

How do I get a new ServiceNow release?

All ServiceNow releases are part and parcel of the ServiceNow subscription or licensing agreement. ServiceNow plans release dates up to three years ahead and notifies clients on the exact release dates upfront.

Upgrading typically takes weeks if well prepared beforehand and when using ServiceNow’s prescriptive guidance and best practices.

Can ServiceNow releases be purchased in the ServiceNow store?

Releases are free, as they are part of any ServiceNow subscription or licensing agreement.

The ServiceNow store is the place to go for both paid and free applications and integrations developed and deployed on the ServiceNow platform. The store is dedicated to the promotion of cloud‑native enterprise applications developed by 3rd party ISVs, solution providers, system integrators and service providers.

With over 300 apps in the store, it’s an important channel for ServiceNow users.

What is the latest ServiceNow release?

As previously mentioned, ServiceNow releases two new versions per year. The current Vancouver release was delivered in Q3 2023. Prior to Vancouver was the Utah release of Q1 2023. ServiceNow’s next release, Washington DC, is planned for late March 2024.

The ServiceNow Vancouver release

The Vancouver release boasts many new features to ServiceNow products such as App Engine, CSM, HRSD, IRM/GRC and ITSM.

Some noteworthy features from the Vancouver release include:

  • Employee Growth and Development
    This brand-new HRSD feature lets you develop data driven talent management strategies to help predict, identify, and develop skills that will have the greatest impact on the business and close talent gaps.
  • Generative AI Controller for App Engine Studio
    Connect your ServiceNow instance to third-party generative AI providers and unleash the power of AI to custom application development!
  • New IRM Application: Compliance Case Management
    This new application enables users can report, investigate, and resolve Compliance cases and events, like complaints and breaches of Guidelines and Policies.

Did any of these new features spark your interest? Read a more extensive report on Vancouver’s highlights here or watch our 45-minute webinar on Vancouver’s hidden gems.

Where can I find ServiceNow release notes?

Proper planning, testing, and validation are the basis for any successful release upgrade. The release notes guide you through completing all the phases and tasks of an upgrade.

The release notes for Vancouver are published on the ServiceNow site, as are the notes for all previous releases.

ServiceNow Washington DC Release unpacked

Why do I need ServiceNow release notes?

Before embarking on the Vancouver upgrade process, be sure to read the Vancouver release notes and review the upgrade and migration tasks for your applications and features.

The ServiceNow release notes are the go-to place for:

 

✓ Release highlights – Know what you’re getting

Review the release highlights to learn about new features and enhancements in Vancouver. You can also find the release notes that correspond to your particular upgrade path.

Each of the release notes packages includes tools to inform you on the next steps in your upgrade, including:

  • Vancouver highlights
  • Features and changes by product, which are pre-combined for cross-family upgrades
  • Changes to plugins
  • Personalized PRB release notes
  • Available patches and hotfixes
  • Browser support
  • Accessibility and compliance

✓ Best practices – Checklists to a successful upgrade

Start preparing for your upgrade with the upgrade planning checklist based on best practices.

To help ensure that you complete all the tasks for a successful upgrade, follow the step-by-step instructions in the upgrade planning checklist to track and plan the upgrade.

 

✓ Guidance – Get started with your upgrade

Upgrading your instance involves planning, testing, and validation. The release notes guide you through completing all of the phases and tasks for a successful upgrade.

ServiceNow Releases - Release notes

How do I know what my current ServiceNow release is?

If you’re not quite sure what release is running on any one of your instances, you can check this when you go to the ServiceNow Support page.

How do I upgrade my current version to the new ServiceNow release?

Basically, upgrading to any new ServiceNow release involves answering the following 3 questions:

 

1. What has changed in the new release and what have you changed in your instance since the last release update?

Assess the impact of the new release on your existing functionalities:

  • Check past experiences & history
  • Review what has changed in the new release
  • Use the Upgrade Preview module to see impact on current configurations and help estimate time needed for the upgrade
  • Contribute to common findings register and make them reusable for other upgrades

 

2. Have you got a plan of action in place to ensure you’ve covered all feature changes?

Prepare a release schedule and make a resource plan:

  • Make a calendar view with dates and hours and identify number of resources required and their availability
  • Define and assign upgrade responsibilities
  • Use the Upgrade monitor to review past experiences to know what to fix and what to ignore and plan time for tackling defects and bug fixing
  • to ensure any urgent development work is rounded off before the development freeze period

 

3. How can you validate that what you have upgraded works when going live?

Prepare test plan & scripts

  • Re-evaluate your resource plan based on:
    • What to test
    • How much to test
    • How many resources are needed to test
  • List all critical functionalities and assign resources and hours for additional time to build and testing
  • Plan high-level testing for other non-critical functionalities
  • Carry our portal quality check to make sure your users are getting the experience you have in mind

How will upgrading to the latest ServiceNow release impact my operations?

Any release upgrade requires planning and resources to make sure that all features work to the max and system security is guaranteed once the upgrade has been completed. This will impact any current projects that you have running, as well as requiring people to become owners of upgrade actions.

Importantly, we’ve seen release upgrades are most successfully implemented if current IT projects are completed or temporarily halted so that full focus can be given to the ServiceNow release.

Hand icon

 

✓ Resources
When upgrading on same instance where project is being executed, we recommend a development freeze.

checkmark icon

 

✓ Clear actions and owners
Not all people are experts in upgrades, always check to you have the right people fitting the right task. Provide them with a clear action list and assign single owners to actions. Multiple owners for one action causes ambiguity.

cogs icon

 

✓ Selecting instances
When requesting a cloned instance to test upgrade, consider the impact to testing components such as integrations, and reapplying fixes to original the dev instance.

puzzle icon

 

✓ Resuming projects
Ask yourself what is required post-upgrade to resume original projects. How do you realign your people and resources? And will you be needing additional people to fulfil your plans on time?

Overview of all ServiceNow releases

Release names and highlights:

Release name Date
Aspen 2011
Berlin Q3 – 2012
Calgary Q2 – 2013
Dublin Q4 – 2013
Eureka Q2 – 2014
Fuji Q1 – 2015
Geneva Q4 – 2015
Helsinki Q2 – 2016
Kingston Q4 – 2016
Jakarta Q2 – 2017
Istanbul Q4 – 2017
London Q2 – 2018
Madrid Q1 – 2019
New York Q3 – 2019
Orlando Q1 – 2020
Paris Q3 – 2020
Quebec Q1 – 2021
Rome Q3 – 2021
San Diego Q2 – 2022
Tokyo Q4 – 2022
Utah Q2 – 2023
Vancouver Q4 – 2023
Washington DC Q1 – 2024
Xanadu Q4 – 2024
Yokohama Q1 – 2025
Zurich Q4 – 2025

 

Book a free ServiceNow expert call

We can’t wait to help you make work flow with ServiceNow! Fill out the form below, and we will get you in touch with the right ServiceNow expert.