How to Set up a ServiceNow GitHub Integration: The Comprehensive 2021 Guide

ServiceNow GitHub Integration

If you use platforms like ServiceNow and GitHub to organize your teams, you may want to consider a ServiceNow GitHub integration at some point along the way. Connecting these two platforms will simply mean easier and more accurate data sharing, as with an integration you can do that automatically and save everyone a lot of work.

Automatically filtering and sorting the many issues and tickets you use sounds like a difficult challenge. The right integration solution though can make it much easier. So in a few simple steps, you’ll see how to set up a ServiceNow GitHub integration with the least fuss possible.

So let’s get started!

Here’s what we’re going to cover in this blog post:

Why Integrate ServiceNow and GitHub

ServiceNow is a workflow focussed platform able to handle everything from service management to help desk support. It offers a wide selection of web-based tools and these are complemented by many extensions.

With a business model focussed on large teams and organizations, it is good for keeping track of large amounts of information and handling complex business relationships.

GitHub, on the other hand, is a code storage platform enabling developers to easily handle version control and code distribution. It allows you to create and discuss issues, making it easier to manage projects.

It is aimed at open-source projects and is a great way to build up a community of coders working together to help improve products.

These platforms contain huge amounts of information and allow teams to work together efficiently. So integrating them properly can help teams share data and manage workflows collectively while keeping the benefits of the individual platforms, without jeopardizing either side’s autonomy or security. 

Choosing the Right Technology For a ServiceNow GitHub Integration

Your teams need a solution that is reliable enough to handle outages and errors, and flexible enough to adapt to their changing needs and allows them to choose how they want to share information with the other side. 

The right solution should also guarantee your team’s autonomy over what data needs to be shared and with whom, so they can keep working in the comfort of their own environment. 

The tool we’ve chosen for this guide is called Exalate. It was designed with these criteria in mind. Let’s see how to use it in practice.

How to Set up a ServiceNow GitHub Integration in Six Steps 

Step 1 – Install Exalate on ServiceNow

First of all, you need to install Exalate. This can be done on your ServiceNow instance with docker, or you can ask Exalate to set up a separate node for you. I’ll use the second option in this tutorial.

To learn more about both options, take a look at this documentation.

exalate integrations

To get a node, go to Exalate’s integrations page, and click ServiceNow.

exalate for ServiceNow

A form will appear. Fill this in to request an evaluation instance. Enter your details and click “Submit”.

exalate evaluation license for ServiceNow

You’ll get a message that your node is ready. You also need to create a ServiceNow account with the appropriate permissions.

Once you’ve created the right user accounts, go to your Exalate node and click “general settings”. Put in the URL of your ServiceNow instance, along with the username and password of your proxy user.

Now you should be able to access the Exalate console. You’ll need to use an account with administrator permissions to do so.

Step 2 – Install Exalate on GitHub

Next, you need to set Exalate up on GitHub. To do that, log in to your account, then click “Marketplace” on the top menu. Type “Exalate” into the search bar and press return. You’ll see “Exalate Issue Sync” appear. 

exalate for GitHub

Click on the app listing, then on “Set up a plan”, followed by “Install it for free”. Click the green button to complete your order and begin the installation.

Note: Exalate offers a free trial, but it is not a free app. 

install exalate on github

Exalate needs access to your projects and you can choose whether to give it access to specific repositories, or to all of them. It can read the metadata, and needs both read and write access to issues and pull requests. If you are happy with that, click the green “Install” button.

Now Exalate will automatically create a node for you. You’ll be redirected to it, and will have to enter your details. After that, click the “Agree and submit” button.

verify exalate instance for ServiceNow GitHub integration

You’ll get a confirmation email in your intray. Click the button in the email to verify your account. Then, click continue.

exalate for github access token

Next, you need to create an access token for use in Exalate. To do that, go back to GitHub. Open the top-right menu and click “settings”. On the next screen, look at the menu on the left and click “Developer settings”. Then on the next screen click “Personal access tokens”.

personal access token for ServiceNow GitHub integration

Click the “Generate new token” button toward the top right. A detailed set of options will appear. You can optionally add a note to help remind you what your token is for later. 

create an exalate access token

The only option you need to select is “repo”, which should also automatically select all the other tick boxes in its group. After that, click the green button at the bottom to generate the token. Be careful on the next screen, because it’s the only chance you get to actually copy the token. If you forget, you’ll have to do it all over again!

GitHub servicenow integration access token

Highlight the token (the long number with the light green background), and copy it somewhere safe. You have to use it each time you log in, it isn’t just a one-off activation, so don’t delete it after logging in for the first time. 

Next, go back to the Exalate node page and paste it into the “Token” box. Click the login button and, if all goes well, you should be taken to the main Exalate menu.

Congratulations! Exalte is now installed on both sides, so let’s set up the connection!

Step 3 – Connect Your ServiceNow and GitHub Instances

Now that you have Exalate running on both platforms, you can go ahead and connect them to one another. You do this by logging into one side and getting an invitation code. You then paste that into the other platform.

It doesn’t matter whether you create the invitation code in ServiceNow or GitHub, as long as you paste it into the other platform. For this guide, I’ll use GitHub to create the invitation, then paste it into ServiceNow. Exalate uses a common interface across platforms, so the process is much the same either way.

initiate servicenow GitHub integration

In your GitHub node, go to the Exalate menu and click “Connections” if you aren’t there already. This will show you any existing connections, but since this is the first time you’re here, there won’t be any. 

Click “Initiate connection”.

public to private connection between servicenow and GitHub

Next, you have to choose an instance type. If the instance is publicly available, click “Public”. Click “Private” if it is behind a firewall or on a private network. If you’re not sure which to select, read this. Click “Next” when you’re done.

initiate a servicenow GitHub sync

On the next screen, you need to choose your destination instance, so enter your ServiceNow URL into the space provided. When you enter it, Exalate will check to confirm if it’s installed there. If successful, more options will appear.

You then need to enter a name for your local instance (GitHub in this case), and the destination instance (ServiceNow). The names you use will be combined to make a connection name. You can change this if you like.

There’s also an optional field for a description. This is especially useful if you have multiple connections. 

exalate single project or advanced?

When you’re ready, click “Next”. Here you need to choose a sync rules template. If you choose “Single project”, Exalate will use sensible default settings for you. “Advanced” lets you choose these yourself.

You’ll look at more advanced configurations in steps four and five, so for now, leave “Single project” selected and click “Next”. On the next screen you need to pick a GitHub repository from those available. Items in this repository will be synchronized with those in ServiceNow. Make a choice, and click “Initiate”.

copy invitation code for GitHub servicenow sync

Exalate will now generate a code that needs to be pasted into ServiceNow to complete the connection. Click the “Copy invitation code” button, and paste the code somewhere safe, like a text editor. 

Then open ServiceNow. You can do this by clicking “Go to remote”, or you can navigate there directly. If you’re using your own instance you can find the Exalate console by typing “Exalate” into the search field above the left-hand menu.

initiate and accept connection in Exalate

In the Exalate console, click “Connections”. Then click the “Accept invitation” button.

accept invitation to a servicenow GitHub sync

You’ll see a large text field. Paste the invitation code you got from GitHub here and click “Next”. Click through the next confirmation screen and the connection will be established.

successful servicenow GitHub integration

Now you’ve got your connection set up. If you click the “Configure Sync” button you’ll be taken straight to the edit connection screen.

In the next steps, you can configure the connection to do exactly what you want.

Step 4 – Configure Your Connection to Determine What Information Gets Shared

In this step you can tune the connection to share the precise data you need. As well as specifying which items are synchronized, you can choose which fields are used and how they map to each other. You can also use your own values for specific fields.

To edit a connection, find its listing in the connections screen. You’ll see four icons on the right. Click the furthest left to edit your connection.

You’ll now see a screen with four tabbed areas. These are “Rules”, “Triggers”, “Statistics” and “Info”. You’ll look at triggers in step five. For now, make sure “Rules” is selected and have a look at the boxes below.

GitHub servicenow sync rules

There are two large areas containing outgoing sync rules and incoming sync rules. These define how synchronized items are mapped on to one another. Above those is a selection allowing you to change the repository the rules apply to.

Take a closer look at the outgoing sync section. The rules here copy items from the issue to the replica that will be sent to the other side and copied into ServiceNow. If you don’t want all the information sent over, you can comment or delete any line you like. 

Commenting, by adding two slashes at the start of the line, is also a good way to quickly enable and disable items. That’s useful if you want to restrict the information you send out, then add it back later.

By default, the mappings use the same suffix for every item, so replica.assignee is mapped to issue.assignee. You can change that easily. You could make the GitHub assignee map to a label in ServiceNow by removing the assignee line and changing the label line to read: replica.label = issue.assignee.

You can also use specific values. For example, changing that line to replica.label = “from GitHub” would add that label to synced ServiceNow items. That way your team can see which items came from the synchronization.

When you’ve got everything set up how you want, click “Publish” at the top right and your changes will be saved. Don’t forget to check with both of your teams to make sure items are being exchanged correctly. It is easy to make a mistake, but also easy to fix it.

There’s much more you can do with sync rules. Read this documentation to find out.

Step 5 – Set Up Automated Synchronization Triggers

Synchronization Triggers define the conditions for information exchange. They control when items are synchronized. 

There are two places to edit them. From the edit connection screen used in the previous step you can click “Triggers”. That’s what I’ll do here. You can also access a separate triggers screen from the left hand menu. It works almost the same way, except the triggers listed there have a separate field to show what connection they apply to.

SNOW GitHub sync triggers

The triggers screen shows your existing triggers, but is blank the first time you look at it. To get started, click the “Create trigger” button on the right.

add trigger to your sync

There are several controls on the add trigger screen. At the top is a dropdown box to pick what type of entity the trigger applies to. 

Next, in the “If” section, you write a query that picks out the issues you want to synchronize. You can read more about the query syntax here.

There’s a space to leave notes. As with the connection screen, this can be a lifesaver if you have lots of triggers, or multiple team members trying to figure out what each other are doing.

Last, but not least, is the “Active?” switch. Don’t forget to turn this on, or nothing will happen. You can also use it to temporarily disable your triggers.

When you’ve finished, click the “Add” button.

Step 6 – Start Synchronizing Tasks

Now that you’ve set everything up, all you have to do is wait for Exalate to synchronize your items. If it isn’t done straight away, don’t panic! For performance reasons, Exalate doesn’t check continually, but if you go away and make a coffee, it should be done when you get back. 

The good thing about Exalate is that you can now leave it to work automatically without having to do any more work. Having seen the benefits though, you may want to make adjustments, or even set up a sync with another platform.

Common Use Cases 

There are many scenarios where you might want to integrate ServiceNow and GitHub. Here are some examples.

Developers and Support Team

A common use for an integration is to connect your support team and your developers. The support team deals with large numbers of issues from customers. These issues may be duplicated, and contain details of customer interaction, along with the technical information the developers are interested in.

The right ServiceNow GitHub integration can automatically filter issues from the support team and copy them into the developers’ issue tracking system on GitHub. When the developers resolve the issue, the integration passes the updates back to ServiceNow, alerting the support team to inform the customer that the issue has been resolved.

Product Development and Quality Control

A product development team might use issues in GitHub to direct engineers in building the product they want. The quality control system analyzes requirements and works with the product development team to convert those requirements into feature requests that the engineers implement.

If the quality control team is tracking their work in ServiceNow, they can benefit hugely by directly monitoring how the issues they raise are implemented in GitHub. Synchronizing systems allows them to see information that is relevant to them, and provide further feedback if needed.

Conclusion 

Integrating software platforms is easy with the right solution. In just a few steps, you can get your teams (and even companies) to share information and work together seamlessly. Once an integration is ready, it can exchange items between your teams without making extra work for anyone.

Making changes and evolving your integration is just as easy to do, so you control when and how data is shared without worrying that everything will come crashing down.

With a flexible ServiceNow GitHub integration, your teams can focus on their own tasks in their own familiar environment while enjoying the easy and secure collaboration.

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