What is IT orchestration?

IT orchestration is automation applied to entire IT-driven processes, integrating and scheduling automated tasks between complex systems and services.

We are currently in the middle of a technological revolution. IT capabilities are increasing at a staggering rate, with new advances completely changing the way the world does business. But with these advances come potential issues. Namely, how can organizations effectively manage increasingly complex tasks and workflows without substantially increasing spend?

Manual management of an ever-expanding ecosystem of servers and applications is simply not scalable. As such, successful businesses are turning to automation to help supplement their IT management strategies. But where traditional automation reduces or eliminates the need for manual input in individual tasks, today’s businesses need something capable of combining many automated tasks and their configurations across entire groups of systems. This approach is called IT orchestration.

IT Orchestration and IT automation are the same in terms of function, but vastly different in terms of scope. Here, we take a closer look at the factors that distinguish orchestration from automation:


Although the term automation is often used to describe any situation in which a machine can perform functions with minimal human input, in a technical sense automation tends to refer most specifically to situations where a machine is performing a single task. Each individual task being performed is its own automation.

Automation has been successfully applied to a range of IT processes and tasks, including creating service tickets, developing and deploying apps, auditing checks, user provisioning, application integration, and more. When used correctly, automation may significantly improve the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of otherwise time-intensive jobs.


As previously mentioned, orchestration is automation scaled up. Effective orchestration tools allow organizations to automate and support entire interconnected workflows, computer systems, services, and middleware within their computing environment. Orchestration is versatile and may be applied to distributed systems either in the cloud or on premises. In other words, orchestration handles entire groups of tasks from start to finish.

So, for example, if an organization wants to orchestrate creating an active directory, they will build an automated workflow for several interconnected tasks. These might include creating users, modifying users, creating groups, modifying groups, etc. Orchestration may also be applied to ensure that automated tasks are occurring in a predefined order. Orchestration is itself a complex endeavor and depends on a full understanding of all steps involved in the process to be orchestrated and tracking those steps across many different environments. That said, if a process consists of repeatable, automatable tasks, then it may be orchestrated.

By automating entire complex processes and systems, IT orchestration provides several clear advantages. Many of these benefits are similar to the benefits of using more traditional automation, but applied to larger processes.

Decreased costs

Every task carries with it an operational cost in terms of money, time spent, and other resources necessary to carry the task from start to finish. Orchestration automates entire groups of time- and effort-consuming tasks, significantly reducing the costs associated with many processes.

Graphic outlining the benefits of IT orchestration.

Improved accuracy

Manual, repetitive tasks are not only time consuming, but they can also become mind numbing. And when employees are faced with performing the same tasks day in and day out, they may begin to make errors. Automated systems don’t become bored or lose their focus, which means that automated tasks are always capable of operating with complete accuracy. Orchestration helps eliminate errors from essential processes, for optimal consistency and reliability, and without the danger of human-introduced errors.

Optimized productivity

Manual processes represent considerable time commitments for many employees. And when trained experts are forced to spend their limited number of work hours performing important, yet-mundane tasks, they don’t have much time left for strategy or other vital concerns. Orchestration gives valuable professionals the freedom to focus on tasks that require human insight and creativity, allowing them to do and accomplish more.

Standardized processes

Orchestration allows businesses to create standard processes for the full range of computing systems and services. This likewise improves reliability and consistency, and makes it easier to introduce new processes and get them up and running quickly.

IT orchestration may be applied to nearly any process, and this includes cloud-based processes. Cloud orchestration allows organizations to automate and manage vital infrastructure and workflows across cloud-based systems, bringing the advantages of orchestration to this growing computing environment. Cloud orchestration is likewise useful in cloud provisioning, empowering organizations to automate the delivery of important cloud resources to their end users.

There are many different software tools and platforms designed to help businesses make the transition to IT orchestration. Each of these tools offers its own advantages and disadvantages; selecting the right one for a specific organization or use case can be difficult. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when making a selection:

Business need

Different processes, systems, and services require different tools to orchestrate. Understanding the business' needs, as well as the goals and objectives that must be reached, is the first step in finding the right IT orchestration tool.

Ease of use

IT orchestration tools often unite processes across multiple departments, systems, and computing environments. As such, they must be accessible and intuitive enough to be put to effective use by non-IT personnel. If they are too difficult to use, or if the learning curve is preventing enterprise-wide adoption, then it will be less likely to provide noticeable value.


Businesses are not static; they constantly grow and shrink to meet changing demands. The IT orchestration tool must be similarly dynamic, scaling up or down along with the business.


Often, it’s not enough that tasks are completed; they must also be able to be reviewed, assessed, and audited. IT orchestration tools should produce a clear audit trail. This makes it possible for organizations to identify and resolve risks associated with availability, security, and integrity of IT processes and infrastructure more quickly. At the same time, built-in auditing helps ensure and prove regulatory compliance.

Analytics capability

Every process, system, service, and product create data, which can be collected and analyzed to provide important business insights. Top IT orchestration tools should be capable of capturing, reporting on, and analyzing relevant data, so that IT administrators and other decision makers have the right information to build strategy around.

As new, complex IT tasks continue to expand, it’s beckoning ever more obvious that manual orchestration just isn’t feasible. Worse still, addressing these tasks is time consuming and labor intensive, distracting valuable IT personnel from their more strategic responsibility of driving innovation. But while automation may alleviate some of these concerns, too often automation solutions are simply not coordinated or robust enough to provide a real, working resolution. ServiceNow provides the solution, with ServiceNow Orchestration.

ServiceNow Orchestration is the answer to the business need for reliable IT automation. Built on the industry leading Now Platform®, Orchestration brings together relevant data, tools, and features from across the ServiceNow IT ecosystem, providing users with the resources they need to automate systems and applications outside of the ServiceNow environment.

Apply pre-built activities to rapidly build automations that can then be edited, moved, and reused across different scenarios. Automate the most common IT requests with self-service password reset automation. Track and calculate cost savings for every automation, with the built-in ROI calculator. Reduce the number of tasks for IT departments, increase team productivity, and accelerate processes like never before. And, because time is always valuable, ServiceNow Orchestration provides out-of-the-box solutions allowing businesses to begin reaping the rewards of advanced automation immediately.

Unchain your IT department from repetitive and time-consuming tasks; try ServiceNow Orchestration and take IT further than ever before.

Capabilities that scale with your business

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