London calling: the ITSMO Team to upgrade ServiceNow tonight

Illustration of London skylineTonight, December 7, ServiceNow will be upgraded to the latest release, named London. ServiceNow releases are named after cities from around the globe. Our current version is Jakarta, and we will be skipping over the K release (Kingston) in order to move to the most current version supported by ServiceNow.

In the last few years, ServiceNow has moved to an accelerated release cycle that features two major releases every year, and SN requires customers to be within two versions of the latest release to remain in good standing for support. This requirement has prompted Emory to upgrade more often than we have historically.

Painful lessons from the past well-learned…

For those who can remember back to the distant past of 2010 when ServiceNow was first deployed at Emory, we often customized the platform to provide functionality that didn’t yet exist. Over the years, ServiceNow caught up and we found ourselves in a position where our customizations were impeding our ability to upgrade easily.

In 2016/2017, we took some hard medicine and leapfrogged by upgrading three versions to Helsinki. It was a major and painful effort, requiring outside assistance from a ServiceNow partner to untangle our complex customizations. We logged over a hundred stories in our upgrade sprints, and cataloged hundreds of defects, many of which were not remediated at the time of the final upgrade.

In the end, the upgrade was successful, and the hard work of reverting to out-of-the-box functionality had yielded a platform that was better positioned for future upgrades and development.

…Reap rewards for the future

In late 2017, we needed to upgrade to either the Istanbul or Jakarta versions of ServiceNow, and chose to embrace a long-term strategy of always skipping to the latest version in order to extend our supportability and only needing to plan for a single upgrade each calendar year. In the end, the Jakarta upgrade took three months of planning, was solely supported by internal Emory teams, and resulted in only a handful of defects that needed to be addressed post-upgrade. In the time between upgrades, we also looked at other opportunities to reduce the number of customizations in ServiceNow, which has streamlined the upgrade effort even further.

In planning team activities for FY19, we set a goal of further reducing the amount of time and effort dedicated to upgrades, and set the 2018 upgrade to London for a two-month duration. As of this writing, we are on target to achieve this goal.

Leveraging a new automated testing suite, first piloted in the Jakarta upgrade and championed by ITSMO’s Rose Harris, we were able to significantly reduce the time dedicated to functional and user-acceptance testing in several modules, and have zero reported defects as we wrap up our development and testing activities in anticipation of the production upgrade on Friday, December 7.

What to expect during the upgrade

Shiny new features? Absolutely none!

While there are plenty of new things in London, we make it a practice to only focus on ensuring existing functionality during an upgrade in order to limit complexity. Post-upgrade, we will assess and prioritize new modules and enhancements based upon customer interest and institutional goals.

Already on the list for consideration are Virtual Attendant (an AI-based customer-facing module that assists with common requests and provides contextual information helpful in resolving common issues), and the Walk-up Center module (to assist with queue management for groups that utilize face-to-face, on-demand support for customers).

Here is the schedule:

Friday, December 7

  • At 9:00 PM, ServiceNow will be made unavailable to customers by redirecting the logon screen to a maintenance message.
  • During this time the After-Hours Service Desk and NOC will not be able to open new or update existing tickets, and will need to rely upon established processes for logging tickets during a ServiceNow outage.
  • We anticipate the ServiceNow will be available again by Saturday morning, but have scheduled the change to take place through 9:00 PM on Saturday, December 8, in case of unexpected difficulties, or conditions not encountered during upgrade testing and planning.

Saturday, December 8

  • Upon successful completion of the upgrade and functional testing, we will send out a notice to the Service Desk and NOC to resume normal operations for ticket logging and monitoring.

Monday, December 10

  • If you encounter any issues with ServiceNow post-upgrade, please contact the University Service Desk and ask for a ticket to be opened for the ITSMO team.

Graphic of an English crownWait, what about…

Here are a list of common questions from previous upgrades.

Q: What about tickets created by email?
A: Inbound emails will queue while ServiceNow is unavailable, and will process when the upgrade is complete.

Q: What about Scheduled Reports?
A: Scheduled reports will not run if normally scheduled between 9:00 PM and midnight on Friday.

Q:  What if I need to report an issue or check on the status of a ticket?
A: The NOC and after-hours Service Desk will not be able to log or update tickets during the upgrade, and will need to follow the defined manual process used during a ServiceNow outage.

Q: What happens to other scheduled jobs, such as ESD user updates, etc.?
A: Updates from integrations between external systems and ServiceNow will not run during the 9:00 PM to midnight window on Friday night.

Q: What about on-call paging and event-based ticket generation from other monitoring platforms?
A: On-call paging and event-based ticket generation will not be available. The NOC should leverage other monitoring tools and escalate to on-call groups directly for the duration of the upgrade.

Other questions? Please contact ITSMO by emailing ITSMO [at] LISTSERV [dot] CC [dot] EMORY [dot] EDU.

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Get ready to party: annual LITS Holiday Party next week

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(L to R): Perry Eidson, Kelly Kautt, and Dennis House.

This year’s annual LITS Holiday Party will held Thursday, December 13, from 3:00 to 6:00, at the Emory Conference Center Ballroom. This division-wide celebration will feature music, food, beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, and great company. Rich Mendola will also be making remarks to the division at around 4:00.

Raffle Details

There will be a raffle during the event. The rules are simple: place your raffle ticket in the bowl of the prize you would like to win. If you bring three non-perishable food items, you will receive a second raffle ticket. Food will be donated to the Atlanta Food Bank.

Folks wearing holiday sweaters will also receive an extra raffle ticket. But it must be a true holiday sweater, not just green or red. Also only one prize per staff member.

Raffle drawings will be at 4:00 and 5:00.

Shuttle Service

There are two shuttles that run down Clifton Road, and stop at the 1599 Building (which is next to the Emory Conference Center):

  • A Route – Woodruff Circle to Wesley Woods
  • CCTMA – Runs down Clifton Road – stops at Clifton Road and the Law School and runs past the 1599 Bldg

If staff drive, you will have to pay to park at the Conference Center. You may also park in the 1599 deck. Please self-identify as attending the LITS event, then walk down to the Conference Center.

If you have any questions, contact me at kcomsto [at] emory [dot] edu.

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News from the Employee Council: Fall 2018

Big Brothers Big Sisters logo

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta.

In October, Zach Nikonovich-Kahn gave us a presentation about the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta.  It’s a commitment that can be a positive, transformative opportunity for both “the big and the little.” There is an orientation, an application, an interview, training and then a match meeting. The intention is for this relationship to last at least a year, with get-togethers at least twice a month. There are also “Big Couples,” where you and your partner can share the experience and take turns with outings OR have all three of you enjoy time together. It’s about spending quality time with opportunity for conversation and fun. Click this link for more information on Big Brother Big Sister.

Dan Gordon, Emory’s Chief Engagement Officer, spent time talking about the Emory Strategic Plan and what is going into the decision-making process at a high level. Emory University and Emory Healthcare are both set for significant changes with building, renovating, and expanding to enhance our relationship with Atlanta and serve the world of global communities. This effort will continue to develop over the next several months by way of focus groups, survey results, and more. Ways we can help:  participate in community events, be a positive supporter of Emory and Atlanta.

For November, the committee welcomed Wanda Hayes, Senior Director of Learning and Organizational Development at Human Resources. Wanda spoke at length about the growth in leadership development programs at Emory in the past 10 years. “Talent Management” has become a very important activity with regard to recognizing and developing employees who demonstrate promise. There are supervisor and manager programs that can be signed up for, while other programs require a nomination: for a full list and more information.

Robin Morey, Chief Planning Officer, and David Payne, Senior Director of Business and Administrative Operations, were our next presenters. They spoke about the continuing Emory planning efforts underway; particulars included a surface lot at Emory Midtown becoming a parking deck of multiple levels. Executive Park developments could include a new living facility coordinated similarly to the way Emory Point handles leases.

Emory has engaged Sasaki, a firm based in Boston that emphasizes new vision for coordinating master planning that interconnects campus and urban environments. Robin spoke to the diverse focus group efforts underway and to the consultant firm’s engagement with this ambitious, forward-driven opportunity. Please visit the  website to learn more about the framework planning process.

Your LITS Employee Council Reps:

  • Denise Holliday, PeopleSoft Financials
  • Bonita Bryan, Woodruff Health Sciences Library
  • Dawn Francis-Chewning, Academic Technology Services

Please reach out to any one of us with questions we can bring to the Council on your behalf.

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Chaun Campos, Library Specialist, Oxford Library

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“Having been used to public libraries, working in an academic library is a whole different and interesting environment.” – Chaun Campos

Chaun Campos (pronounced “SHAWN”) is the new evening library specialist at the Oxford Library. Before coming to Emory, Chaun was at the August/Richmond County Public Library, where she spent a year as a student assistant.

A native of Atlanta, GA, Chaun attended Banneker HS in College Park. She earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Augusta State University.

Chaun is an avid long-distance runner. She completed her first half-marathon not long ago and really enjoys looking at the landscape when she runs. She also likes to eat! “My favorite food is macaroni and cheese. People everywhere make it different ways with different spices. I love it,” said Chaun.

Regarding her experience thus far in Oxford, “It has been really eye-opening,” said Chaun. “Having been used to public libraries, working in an academic library is a whole different and interesting environment.”

You can reach her at chaundria [dot] monique [dot] campos [at] emory [dot] edu.

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Stephanie Darden, Senior Library Specialist, Oxford Library

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“It’s amazing here in Oxford because you can learn many different aspects of library science.” – Stephanie Darden

Stephanie Darden is the new senior library specialist in the Oxford Library. She came to Oxford after spending two years as a library para-professional at Life University in Marietta, GA. She also worked as a library assistant for a half-year for a library in Zebulon, GA. Stephanie also taught English in South Korea for five years.

Born in Washington, DC, Stephanie was raised all over the east coast, spending most of her time in Tampa, FL, and Bath, OH. She came to Georgia in 2000. She earned her master of library science degree from Valdosta State University THIS WEEK! Stephanie also has a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Oglethorpe University.

Stephanie loves reading fiction and traveling. Her favorite travel locations so far have been Rome and Japan.

“It’s amazing here in Oxford because you can learn many different aspects of library science,” said Stephanie. “I am looking forward to growing as a librarian.”

You can reach Stephanie at stephanie [dot] darden [at] emory [dot] edu.

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Winston Huey, Application Analyst, ITSMO

Photo of new employee

“I work with a brilliant team,” said Winston about his colleagues in ITSMO, “I enjoy using work flows and this team specializes in them.

Winston Huey is the newest application analyst to join the IT Service Management Office. Prior to his work at Emory, Winston spent a year as a front-end angular developer at Onetrust. He also spent 18 months as a team leader for logistics reporting systems at AT&T.

Born in Hillsborough, NJ, Winston earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Georgia State University. He came to Georgia twenty years ago when his dad was transferred as an AT&T employee.

When he’s not working, Winston loves to fly drones and play video games. He considers himself a drone hobbyist, flying a Mavic Pro and shooting video when he can.

“I work with a brilliant team,” said Winston about his colleagues in ITSMO, “I enjoy using work flows and this team specializes in them. I’m excited to get my feet wet in their systems.”

You can reach Winston at winston [dot] huey [at] emory [dot] edu.

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LITS recent headlines and upcoming events

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Recent LITS headlines:

Upcoming LITS events:

(go HERE for more information for each event)

  • December 13 – InfoForum: 9:45 am – 10:45 am, Jones Room, Woodruff Library
  • December 13 – Event: Pet Therapy Study Break, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Jones Room, Woodruff Library
  • December 13 – Event: LITS Holiday Party, 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Emory Conference Center Hotel
  • December 19 – Event: LEAF Holiday Party, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm, Jones Room, Woodruff Library
  • December 24-28 – Christmas Break
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