Upgrade to Istanbul

The upgrade process moves your instance to a new ServiceNow release version. Understand the difference between upgrading and patching, release definitions, rollback and backup options, and how to test your non-production and production instance upgrades.

Before you begin the upgrade process, review the upgrade and migration tasks for your applications and features. For an in-depth explanation of the upgrade process, refer to Upgrade your instance.

System upgrades can be significant projects. Each ServiceNow feature release includes major additions, and you should always consider the impact of new functionality on an instance. Upgrading implements enhancements to all features that are part of the base system or are already active, unless the feature is customized on your instance. Read the Istanbul release notes for information on new and changed features. For a list of all available plugins and whether they are active by default on the base system, see List of Istanbul plugins.

Careful preparation and knowledge of the available software, tools, and resources can contribute to a successful upgrade. In addition to the materials provided by ServiceNow, it is important to understand how your ServiceNow instance is currently operating and the performance level of key business functionality. Set the expectation with IT and business users that time must be dedicated to preparing for, implementing, and testing ServiceNow upgrades. For information about features of the ServiceNow platform that assist with upgrades, see Upgrades and conversions.

If you have any issues during the upgrade process, contact ServiceNow Customer Support. ServiceNow Customer Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you with any questions or issues.

For additional help with upgrades, ServiceNow also offers various Production Readiness Services. These services specifically address challenges with instance upgradability, manageability, scalability, and performance. The reviews are performed by a ServiceNow-certified professional consultant, who provide recommendations to align customer configurations with ServiceNow best practices. Contact your ServiceNow sales representative for more details.

Upgrading from previous families

If your instance is more than one family behind, you can upgrade directly from your current release to your target release. For example, if your instance is on Geneva, you can upgrade from Geneva directly to Istanbul.

ServiceNow fully supports the current and two previous family releases, as well as any interim hot fixes and patch releases. For more information about release terminology and availability phases, see the ServiceNow Release Cycle [KB0547244] article in the HI Knowledge Base.

Upgrades vs. patches

ServiceNow organizes its releases into families. A family is a set of releases that are named after a major city, such as Fuji or Geneva. Within a family, releases are further differentiated by patch and hot fix number. For example, the following releases are both part of the Geneva family:

  • Geneva Patch 7
  • Geneva Patch 6 Hot Fix 2

Upgrading is the act of moving to a release that is in a different family than your current release. For example, a move from Geneva Patch 7 to Helsinki Patch 2 is an upgrade because Geneva and Helsinki are different families.

Patching is the act of moving to a release that is in the same family as your current release. For example, a move from Helsinki Patch 1 to Helsinki Patch 2, is a patch because both versions are part of the Helsinki family.

In both cases, the target release is Helsinki Patch 2. It is the difference between your current and target release family that determines whether you are upgrading or patching.

Features, patches, and hot fixes

Each release family contains features, patches, and hotfixes.

A feature provides a complete solution that customers can implement to add value to their organization. New features are generally only available as part of a feature release. Features are supported with patches and hot fixes.

Type Scope
Feature
  • Introduces new features
  • Includes all available fixes to existing functionality
  • Is production-oriented; quality and stability are of the highest priority throughout the life cycle
Patch
  • Supports existing functionality with a collection of problem fixes
  • Generally does not include new features
Hot Fix
  • Supports existing functionality with a specific problem fix for a feature release
  • May or may not include any previous fixes for a given release
  • Does not include new features

For more information about release terminology and availability phases, see the ServiceNow Release Cycle [KB0547244] article in the HI Knowledge Base.

Rollbacks and backups

When you plan an upgrade, remember that ServiceNow does not provide a universal rollback option. Rollbacks are available for upgrades (for example, Istanbul patch-to-patch and Istanbul patch-to-hotfix). The rollback window is 10 days by default. You can customize this window by modifying the glide.rollback.expiration_days property. To request a rollback, contact ServiceNow Customer Support.

Avoid restoring a production instance from backup, when possible, due to downtime and data loss. When a problem cannot be solved using other methods, restoring a production instance from backup is a final option. ServiceNow can restore an instance to any point in time, regardless of when a backup is completed. ServiceNow provides customer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for assistance with critical post-upgrade issues.

Note: ServiceNow does not perform on-demand backups. Instances are automatically backed up daily during non-peak business hours on schedules defined by ServiceNow. The timing of existing backup schedules is not adjusted.

Testing throughout upgrades

Testing is an integral portion that occurs after each instance is upgraded. After you upgrade an instance, test and validate it.

This instance naming convention assumes that you have three ServiceNow instances. If you have three instances, upgrade your instances in this order:
  1. Development
  2. Test
  3. Production
If you have more or less than three instances, or if you are using Team Development, these instance labels will be different. In general, upgrade your instances furthest from production towards your production instance.
Instance Type of testing required
Development
  • Run a validation test.
Test
  • Use the ServiceNow Automated Test Framework to assist you in testing your non-production instances.
  • For extra testing coverage, you can also conduct user acceptance testing (UAT) on your non-production instances.
Production
  • Conduct UAT.
Note: The Automated Test Framework's test execution property is disabled by default to prevent unintentionally running tests on a production system. We recommend that you run tests only on development, test, and other non-production instances.

If you encounter any post-upgrade issues, document the issue's conditions, steps to reproduce the issue, and your customizations. Contact ServiceNow Customer Support to open an incident for each issue, and provide this information accordingly. ServiceNow Customer Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you with any questions or issues.