ITIL, a framework for best practice in IT Service Management (ITSM), offers guidelines for every business in their effort to deliver high-quality customer-focused services. ServiceNow and JIRA Service Desk are leading solution providers in this area. Though they have some overlapping capabilities, there are also differences between the two. This blog post aims to provide a detailed comparison of the main capabilities and features of the two tools, as well as to deliver an overall picture of their respective market.

ServiceNow provides ITSM tools and services via a single platform (Now platform), which supports the management of the entire service lifecycle. On the other hand, JIRA Service Desk is an ITSM tool that supports core IT Infrastructure Library processes such as Service Management, Problem Management, Incident Management, etc. It focuses more on development and support processes, rather than the complete service lifecycle. More specific comparisons of each category are listed below.

Comparing basic capabilities

    Pricing Model

  ServiceNow JIRA Service Desk
Subscription ✔️ ✔️ 
Licensing ✔️ ✔️ 
Free trial ✔️ ✔️ 
Free plan ✔️*
* up to 3 agents

    Hosting Options

  ServiceNow JIRA Service Desk
Cloud ✔️  ✔️
On-premise ✔️* ✔️
* ServiceNow provides on-premise hosting as per customized request.

    Supported ITSM Processes

  ServiceNow JIRA Service Desk
Incident Management ✔️ ✔️ 
Problem Management ✔️ ✔️ 
Asset Management ✔️ ✔️*
Knowledge Management ✔️ ✔️*
Request Management ✔️ ✔️ 
Service Level Management ✔️ ✔️ 
Configuration Management ✔️ ✔️*
Service Catalog ✔️ ✔️*
Availability Management  
Capacity Management  
Supplier Management  
Event Management  
Financial Management  
Project Management ✔️ 
* requiring additional add-ons or modules, e.g. Confluence in the case of Knowledge Management

    Implementation Time

ServiceNow JIRA Service Desk
4,5 months 1,2 months

According to the G2Crowd Service Desk Implementation Index Report, the industry average implementation time is 3,3 months, so JIRA Service Desk has the advantage of taking a considerably shorter time to go live.

    Development Methodology

ServiceNow JIRA Service Desk
Heavyweight Lightweight

JIRA Service Desk, which launches several releases per year including bug fixes, provides intensive support for customers by employing an agile (lightweight) development approach. ServiceNow releases however only two new versions per year and is more suited to slow-moving enterprise deployment contexts. To meet enterprise needs, Atlassian also introduced enterprise releases for JIRA Service Desk as of January 2018.

Market breakdown: IT Service Management

Market shares of prominent competitors

Main competitors as of 2018 include, according to the IT market research company AppsRunTheWorld:

  • ServiceNow (approx. 36.8%)
  • Atlassian (JIRA Service Desk) (approx.13%)
  • BMC Software, Inc.
  • Ivanti
  • LogMeln, Inc.
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • SolarWinds
  • CA Technologies Broadcom
  • ASG Technologies
  • Others

The same study, which is carried out annually indicates changes in market share from 2015 to 2018:

  • ServiceNow: largely stable over the years, maintaining leader position.
  • Atlassian: largely stable over the years as second-top provider.
  • Others: shares shifted among remaining vendors.
    • SAP, Axios systems (ASSYST), ASG Technologies, CA Technologies, IBM: market share diminished
    • SolarWinds, BMC, LogMeIn, Ivanti (merged from HEAT and Landesk), Microsoft: market share increased

A look into the market share figures and market share shifts among the top 10 ITSM vendors across the years gives some insight into what customers are seeking in their implementations. Besides differences in target market segments (small or large enterprises), quality of features, price schemes, user experience and quality of support, which drive more adoption for one product (brand) and less for another, the shifts imply also movement in adoption towards offers with:

  • a broader selection of integration (third-party apps, add-ons and plugins).
  • functionalities for ESM (Enterprise Service Management) where service management is extended to other business units and not just the IT-intensive.
  • support for more ITIL components or processes.
  • remarkable level of customization allowed (using templates, plugs, modules, etc.).
  • high level of automation on repetitive processes.

Critical figures for the global IT Service Management market are as follows:

  • According to Gartner’s research, the ITSM market as part of the overall IT operations software market has grown from approx. $1,3 billion in 2010 to $3,5 billion in 2018. This represents a growth of almost three times over a period of 8 years.

  • These indicate a steady growth in this market in the past several years. Considering tech-based solutions are getting more widely adopted in business and management practices, the ITSM tools market is anticipated to grow even more in the future.

  • ITSM applications market size is expected to reach $4,6 billion by 2023, from $4,1 billion in 2018 , meaning a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approx. 2,33% (this addresses the general ITSM market which includes on-premise, hybrid and cloud implementations).

  • Compared to the overall ITSM market, the cloud-based market is expected to grow faster (with an estimated growth rate of ~17% compared to ~2-3% on-prem), since the popularity of cloud applications has been increasing tremendously due to its undeniable advantages in performance and administration over the on-premise option.

Finally, here are some trends that have the potential to influence the growth of the ITSM market and shape its evolution for the future:

  • Automation and hyper-automation (RPA, AI, AIOps, intelligent business management where data feeds determine the success of AI solutions).

  • Improved information security and decentralized control (pervasive migration of IT infrastructure from data centers; cloud-based services continue to evolve in the next years, with decentralized roles and responsibilities).

  • Containerization and microservices (breaking functionality into smaller pieces that are easier for use in building and deploying services).

  • Mobility: making ITSM functionalities available on mobile apps with appropriate design and intuitive user experience (mobility strategy) which facilitates workflow checks and approvals on the go.

  • Enterprise Service Management (ESM): based on the principle of ITSM to extend service management to other business units in the organization, and not only IT (i.e. HR, Procurement, Finance, etc.)

  • More flexibility in solution mapping and implementation as workflows may vary tremendously in complexity and quantity from one client to another. Not limited to using templates and plugins, clients should be able as well to integrate their programmed features and manually customize their IT-based workflows.

Which one to choose?

Having familiarised yourself with the basic capabilities and features of ServiceNow and JIRA Service Desk, you are one step closer to being able to make a qualified decision about which one to employ. To support making this type of decision, more contextual information is usually needed: the business process landscape, the infrastructure, the organisational structure are but a few of the influencing factors here.

This entire procedure may be cumbersome, but the good news is we are here to help. We at Metamorphant provide objective, fact-based consulting for software projects, in which we tailor solutions to best match customers’ needs. We also offer technical support and closely accompany our clients during the implementation phase. We believe our domain expertise, experience and our commitment to customer satisfaction will allow us to achieve delivery excellence and ease your entire transition process.

Learn more about our services here.

Post header background image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay.

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