Improving ServiceNow DevOps Flow Metrics: Mean Time To Environment

Scott Willson

Optimizing MTTE with xtype 

In the fast-paced realm of ServiceNow development, minimizing bottlenecks is critical. The speed at which developers can access newly cloned environments directly impacts iteration velocity. A key DevOps Flow Metric called Mean Time to Environment (MTTE) measures this end-to-end environment availability. By reducing MTTE, teams can develop, test, and release new apps and features faster. This post explores tips for optimizing your ServiceNow MTTE and how xtype can accelerate environment readiness.

What is MTTE?

MTTE measures the average time it takes for developers to gain access to an environment with the latest code changes, plugins, apps, configurations, and data necessary for low-error development and validation testing after a clone. The lower the MTTE, the faster developers can verify implementations, identify issues, and progress releases through the pipeline. 

The Hidden Cost of Cloning 

As you know, cloning is typically done to create separate development, testing, and production environments. Keeping these environments isolated is considered a ServiceNow best practice for several reasons:

  • Development teams can make changes, build new features, and customize instances without impacting ongoing operations or production systems. This isolation safeguards the live or production instance.
  • Test and staging environments allow changes to be verified before being promoted to production. Environments that closely mirror production enable more realistic testing.
  • In the event of a failed update or configuration issues, cloned environments limit the blast radius and minimize the risk of corrupting the production instance.
  • Compliance requirements often mandate a clear separation between environments for security, regulatory, and audit purposes. Cloning provides a way to live with these air gaps and safely promote apps and features.
  • Cloned instances can be refreshed and reverted to reset to known good states during development sprints or new testing cycles.

The problem with cloning is that (1) it takes a lot of time to execute and (2) it takes a lot of pre and post clone work to make a newly cloned instance ready for new development and testing. The first challenge is usually addressed by running the cloning process during off-hours. The second challenge requires hours of manual effort that is bearable for a single instance but doesn't scale for multiple instances.  

Then again, why endure hours of manual effort for even a single instance? For example, suppose it takes three hours for a ServiceNow pro to import, validate, and configure a new clone. That's three hours your ServiceNow developers are not making progress on your next release. What is the cost of that lost productivity? The DevOps Flow Metric of MTTE demands reducing this time to as close to zero as possible.

Strategies for Reducing MTTE

xtype can reduce ServiceNow MTTE in several use cases.

Bidirectional Synchronization

xtype's bidirectional synchronization capability enables all of your instances to be as production-like as possible. xtype provides controlled synchronization of update sets, apps, plugins, data, XML (etc.) across your landscape. Production hotfixes can be synchronized upstream so development and test instances so developers' and testers' work accurately reflects production realities.

Developing and testing in production-like instances reduces errors and conflicts. xtype provides controlled synchronization, which means approvals, scans, test executions, and even change management requests are all part of the upstream and downstream propagation of changes. You are not sacrificing safety or compliance.

Post Clone Automation

Applying xtype's controlled synchronization technology to your cloning process means two things. First, you no longer have to use cloning as a way to develop and test in production-like environments. Secondly, when you do clone, a ServiceNow pro only needs to perform post-clone work once, and xtype will propagate that work across all other new clones. Our customers are seeing up to an 80% reduction in post-clone MTTE.


Reducing MTTE will significantly impact the velocity and frequency of your ServiceNow teams' ability to develop, test, and deliver new apps and features. xtype is an important technology that drives down ServiceNow instance MTTE. xtype's controlled synchronization will improve the quality of and reduce the error rate for the apps and features you migrate downstream. 

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