The ServiceNow release cycle is designed to provide optimal stability and quality, with the flexibility to quickly address problems and deliver new features.
Customer customizations are typically preserved throughout all upgrades. ServiceNow uses the concept of a family for a given feature set. For example, London Patch 1 Hotfix 2 is in the London family. A family contains:

  • A feature release that contains new functionality and fixes to existing functionality.
  • Patch releases and hotfixes that provide problem fixes and are released as needed.

Feature release notes are available in the product documentation for all releases.

For information about how to upgrade, see Upgrade to Madrid as an example.

For information about the ServiceNow Patching Program (SPP), refer to the Patching Program FAQ.

For more information about the general upgrade process, see How to upgrade a ServiceNow instance and manage scheduled upgrades.

Release terminology

Release type

This table defines the types of releases that may be available in a family.

Feature release
  • 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 release
  • Supports existing functionality with a collection of problem fixes
  • Generally does not include new features
  • Supports existing functionality with a targeted, specific problem fix
  • May or may not include any previous fixes for a given release
  • Does not include new features

*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.

Release Distribution Phases

Feature releases

Feature releases move through two phases of distribution for customers and partners:

  • Phase 1: Early access by invitation only
  • Phase 2: On-demand or auto-upgrade scheduled based on available dates

The following table provides a brief summary:

PhaseHow do I obtain a new feature release?Is the feature release visible when requesting an upgrade on HI?Is there a maximum number of customers that can upgrade per week?
Phase 1Contact ServiceNow for an entitlement to an early adoption program for the latest familyYes, for customers with an early adoption entitlementYes
Phase 2Request and receive the version at any time or be auto-upgradedYes, for all customersNo

The maximum number of customers that can upgrade per week is at the discretion of ServiceNow. The number varies during the life cycle of a particular release version.

Patches and hotfixes

  • Access to patches and public hotfixes are available as soon as they are released
  • Limited distribution hotfixes are only available through the early adoption program or for P1 issues related to known problems

Release cycle examples

Istanbul was a feature release, thus the Istanbul family includes:

  1. Istanbul feature release
  2. Istanbul patches
  3. Hotfixes
    1. Limited distribution hotfixes
    2. Public hotfixes

For example:

  • Istanbul = New features + a collection of fixes
  • Istanbul Patch 1 (IP1) = Istanbul + a collection of problem fixes
  • Istanbul Patch 1 Hotfix 1 (IP1HF1) = Istanbul + IP1 + a fix for a problem in IP1
  • Istanbul Patch 1 Hotfix 2 (IP1HF2) = Istanbul + IP1 + IP1HF1 + a fix for a different IP1 problem
  • Istanbul Patch 2 (IP2) = Istanbul + IP1 + a collection of problem fixes*

May or may not include IP1HF1 and IP1HF2, depending on various factors


Article Information

Last Updated:2019-11-05 05:21:07