ServiceNow adds automation engine to low-code platform


ServiceNow has deployed the App Engine Management Center for its cloud-based low-code application platform, enabling users to automate the development pipeline.

ServiceNow’s platform has undergone a series of transformations since its inception in 2004 as a cloud-based workflow system. App Engine Studio, launched in March 2021, is a spreadsheet database that enables low-code developers to build apps. AEMC adds simplified automation to the product and eliminates the need for certification, making it easier for coders of all skill levels to build apps, and possibly less expensive.

The entire so-called citizen DevOps process is now automated, said Marcus Torres, general manager and vice president of App Engine at ServiceNow, in an interview with SearchSoftwareQuality. The new addition gives low-code developers the ability to automatically move code from development to production and beyond, Torres said.

“Now that it’s in production, who uses [the app]? How do we optimize it? How do we maintain this over time? App Engine management does all of that,” he said.

Automation engine simplifies the development process

Analysts welcome the shift to automation.

The AEMC is a layer of simplification, said Will McKeon-White, analyst at Forrester Research. Developers who want to work on AEMC will no longer need a certification, making it more accessible to knowledge workers like business analysts, he said, adding that the platform will likely be cheaper because companies will not have to pay for certification.

Using the AEMC automation engine simplifies the process of building apps in ServiceNow, said analyst Stephen Elliot, group vice president at IDC. Companies with hundreds of distinct pieces in their data puzzle can now put blocks together in a more automated way and more easily identify patterns, he said.

“It becomes almost like a Lego set where customers say, ‘Oh wait a minute, this data, I need it for my analysis. Let me grab it. Boom! I’ll bring it,'” Elliot said.

Opening of the platform

Although the platform automates the development process, this does not mean that the AEMC will work immediately.

“The solutions are there,” Elliot said, “but companies need to consider the data they’ve collected, the corporate culture, and their citizen developers.”

Where FMEC shows promise, he said, is with vertical work, such as workforce productivity, employee onboarding or customer experience management. And although AEMC allows hundreds of employees of all levels to use the platform at the same time, there is no control problem.

“There are all these different and interesting use cases that come from the enterprise or from citizen developers like line of business managers,” Elliot said. With the AEMC, these use cases will have a level of security governance.

An example is the management of different tasks within a municipal government. Joseph Cevetello, CIO of the City of Santa Monica, Calif., plans to adopt the AEMC for the hundreds of city employees who manage various departments, including the staff who run the city’s Farmers’ Market. There are many moving parts to the smooth running of the marketplace, including vendor verification for the three marketplace locations. Once he hands over the AEMC shell to the staff, “we’re going to have a lot more flowers in bloom,” Cevetello said.

When you have hundreds of citizen developers, control becomes critical to maintaining a stable level of security and compliance, said IDC’s Elliot.

The AEMC is adding guardrails above the existing platform, he said. “And that’s the secret sauce here.”

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