Case Study

Zurich Deploys ServiceNow Update Sets 5X Faster With xtype.

Added Business Output

Realize a 75% increase in the number of user stories released each year.

More Time

25% productivity lift through automation. This equates to 6 FTEs.

Code Sprawl Avoidance

Automatic synchronization of all ServiceNow instances.

Reduction Cloning Costs

Reduce the time it takes to perform each clone by 75%.

About the company

Zurich is a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. With about 56,000 employees, it provides a wide range of property and casualty, life insurance products and services in more than 210 countries and territories. Zurich’s customers include individuals, small businesses, and mid-sized and large companies, as well as multinational corporations.

Industry

Insurance

Employees

55,000

Global Deployment

215 countries

Equity

$34.494B

Business Challenge

Zurich followed DevOps and Agile industry trends as they organized their ITSM development efforts. However, over time cloning began taking more and more hours, requiring clones to be executed over weekends. Cloning on weekends meant that admins had to work weekends to import pre-clone development work into the cloned sub-prod instances – an effort that also took many person-hours to complete. Additionally, the number of developers writing ServiceNow code produced a volume of work that made comparing changes across instances in preparation for code pushes too laborious and time-consuming. In short, a significant percentage of developer and admin time was spent reviewing and preparing for deployments rather than writing code.

Reduce Development Lead Time

Developers can’t code updates during cloning blackout dates. This fact didn’t use to represent a challenge as cloning was done during non-productive hours such as weekends or evenings. However, with cloning taking 20+ (and growing) hours to complete, there has been pressure to reduce the lead time required to have newly minted clones ready for developers.

Reduce Deployment Lead Time

Preparing for production deployments is time-consuming. Zurich spent days cross-checking spreadsheets and manually inspecting update sets in multiple browser tabs across their sub-prod instances. Even with this attention to detail, it was still difficult to precisely determine the number and ordering of update sets, scripts, etc. in their pre-prod instance that were ready for prod.

Improve Change Failure Rate

Zurich wanted to reduce the number of post-deployment conflicts resulting from siloed instances being out of sync.

Reduce Privileged Access

With so many developers coding updates in parallel elevated privileges were granted to developers so they could promote their update sets to pre-prod instances. Though this is a common practice in the industry and the risk is understood, this still creates privilege sprawl which is not the ideal of any access management best practice.

xtype helped us meet and exceed our technical objectives faster than anticipated.

We’ve successfully filled in gaps in ServiceNow utilizing xtype which allows us to move faster and deliver new functionality efficiently while ensuring a high standard of quality.

Alex Cha / Lee Chapman

ServiceNow Development and Operations Team at Zurich

The Solution

Zurich, like most companies, has adopted DevOps and Agile methodologies. It became apparent that those principles needed to be applied to their ServiceNow development efforts. However, much of the DevOps tooling and metrics is still focused on file-based architected applications, not platform-built use cases like ServiceNow apps, update sets, plugins, scripts, and more. Zurich began investigating solutions to address their challenges.

Zurich knew that automation was key to addressing their challenges but struggled to find a solution to address all of their criteria. The top priority was to reduce the number of conflicts and errors and the time spent resolving those issues resulting from siloed development instances. Next was to reduce the lead time required to make post-cloned instances ready for new development.

During this investigation, a consultant mentioned xtype. Zurich reached out to xtype for more information and to discuss how xtype might address Zurich’s needs. Finding that xtype can address their needs, Zurich purchased licenses and implemented xtype’s platform engineering solution for ServiceNow. xtype proved valuable and provided insights, automation, and back-syncing that addressed the challenges Zurich set out to solve.

The Results

Reduction of Deployment Lead Time

xtype provides 360° real-time cross-instance visibility of all changes and releases. This visibility eliminated the need for manually auditing sub-prod instances looking for updates to include in deployments. Manually building tracking spreadsheets with instructions, scripts, and update-sequence is also fully automated by xtype, reducing the likelihood of errors and reducing the time required to prepare for deployments and. releases

Reduction of Development Lead Time

After performing a clone, Zurich now only needs to perform updates on a single post-cloned instance, and xtype automatically back-syncs all of those changes to all other sub-prod instances.

Change Failure Rate Improved

Besides performing back-syncs after cloning, xtype performs real-time back-syncing, which means at Zurich, developers are always writing code in the most up-to-date environments possible. Developing code in this way reduces the number of conflicts, code duplications, and duplication of effort.

Practicing Least Privileged Access

Since xtype automatically deploys changes and releases to targeted instances, the common practice of granting developers admin privileges to deploy their changes is a thing of the past at Zurich. xtype, not developers, deploys changes to target instances, removing the need for elevated privileges.

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