Patching and Upgrades Program | Release Cycle


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, Quebec Patch 1 Hotfix 2 is in the Quebec family. A family contains:

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

For information about the ServiceNow upgrade process, see ServiceNow upgrades.

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

For information about Early Releases, please see Early Release Program and FAQs.

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, such as complete new solutions that customers can implement to add value to their organization.
    New features are generally only available as part of a feature release.
  • Includes all available fixes to existing functionalities to date.
  • Is production-oriented; quality and stability are of the highest priority throughout the life cycle.
Patch release
  • Supports existing functionalities with a collection of all known problem fixes to date.
  • Generally does not include new features, unless these are strictly bound to the known problems that have been fixed within the patch.
  • Supports existing functionalities with a targeted and specific problem fix that has been found necessary to release before the next official patch. Problems of such high severity are generally detected during testing, but can be found at early availability release time, or later by customer support cases.
  • Generally does not include previous fixes for a given release, unless these are pre-requisites for the specific problem fix target.
  • Does not include new features.


Release Distribution Phases

Feature releases

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

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

Release cycle examples

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

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

For example: