JIRA Service Desk vs ServiceNow: Ticketing System Comparison

Ticketing systems are essential to today's enterprise IT help desk operations—without them, service requests and issues would end up lost inside a flurry of emails and handwritten notes. Both JIRA's Service Desk and ServiceNow are leading solutions in this category; the latter has a 25% share of the IT service management (ITSM) market, while Atlassian—though more software developer-focused—is a household name when it comes to project management and collaboration tools.

Both solutions are powerful offerings when it comes to integrations—this is arguably the crucial hallmark of a well-positioned enterprise software vendor these days. JIRA Service Desk is of course built on top of Atlassian's leading issue and project tracking platform JIRA, which makes it extensible via 1,800+ add-ons available on the Atlassian Marketplace. Not to be outdone, ServiceNow's integrations include several that are vendor-provided as well as a myriad of custom-built integrations, from Salesforce.com to BMC Remedy.


ServiceNow is a born-in-the-cloud SaaS and platform offering that started out focusing on ITIL-based IT service management applications. Because of the plentiful array of third-party developed solutions in the platform's ecosystem, the offering is often referred to as the "Salesforce.com of IT."  

ServiceNow UI
The ServiceNow UI. Source: servicenow.com.

Today's ServiceNow offering includes a myriad of applications for IT service management, HR, legal, and other organizations within the enterprise. The platform aims to provide a single view of all systems in a given IT service delivery ecosystem—to this end, it integrates with existing systems as well as competing solutions from BMC, Salesforce and JIRA.


Initially designed to compete with Mozilla's bug tracking tool Bugzilla (the name is in fact a truncation of Gojira, the Japanese name for Godzilla), JIRA is now a fully-fledged issue tracking system for helping agile teams develop and release software. Service Desk is built on top of JIRA to support IT support and customer service operations.

Jira Service Desk UI
The JIRA Service Desk interface. Source: atlassian.com.

True to DevOps form, many of Service Desk's features help to unsilo information between dev and ops. For example, Service Desk tickets can be linked to JIRA software issues for automatically keeping dev and ops in sync.

Side-by-Side Scoring: ServiceNow vs. JIRA

1. Capability Set

Both are competent platforms for managing the enterprise IT help desk; that said, Jira—as basically an add-on built on top of Atlassian JIRA—works well as part of an ecosystem of other Atlassian products. ServiceNow was designed to be a platform offering with integrations as a focal point, and derives many of its capabilities from working with other tools.

ServiceNow Jira Service Desk
4/5 3/5

2. Ease of Use

JIRA's web interface is intuitive and easy to grasp—again, Atlassian customers will feel right at home with its admin console. ServiceNow's web front-end is also highly usable but, unlike Service Desk, is more enterprise/ITIL-focused, making it less accessible to smaller organizations and IT shops. 

ServiceNow Jira Service Desk
3/5 4/5

3. Community Support

Atlassian offers a range of resources to its community of users and platform developers, including a extensive developer portal and its Answers Q&A website. ServiceNow also provides its users with various community support resources such as a community portal and product wiki

ServiceNow Jira Service Desk
4/5 4/5

4. Release Rate

JIRA Service Desk is currently on version 3.2—a full release history is available on the Atlassian Documentation website. Both Service Desk and JIRA have been regularly updated over the years. Currently on its "Helsinki" release, ServiceNow has also seen regular monthly updates since its initial release. A full release history and notes are located on the ServiceNow support wiki.

ServiceNow Jira Service Desk
4/5 4/5

5. Pricing and Support

A monitoring system won't troubleshoot a configuration error. A configuration test script will.

JIRA Service Desk's pricing is straightforward and manageable by even the most budget-conscious organizations: $10 per month for up to 3 agents and $20 per agent/month for 4+ agents. On-premise versions are also available, priced per agent.

ServiceNow starts at $10,200 per year for the Express version, a price point more in line with enterprise budgets than with smaller IT shops. 

In terms of support, Atlassian offers a range of standard and premium support options that include weekday and weekend coverage, dedicated support staff, shortened response windows, and more. ServiceNow offers web/email and 24/7/365 phone support for customers within the US.

ServiceNow Jira Service Desk
4/5 5/5

6. API and Extensibility

JIRA offers a powerful REST API for building add-ons and develop integrations with other applications. ServiceNow also comes with a well-documented REST API for interacting with its platform's service instances. 

ServiceNow Jira Service Desk
5/5 5/5

7. 3rd Party Integrations

JIRA's third party integrations are second to none—its Marketplace offers up over 2,400 add-ons for extending the platform's capabilities. ServiceNow also offers a plethora of integrations—both included and custom-built—via its website. 

ServiceNow Jira Service Desk
5/5 5/5

8. Companies that Use It

JIRA is used by many of the world's leading enterprises: Twitter, Sotheby's, Spotify, BlackRock, and Splunk, among others. Equally popular among the enterprise elite, ServiceNow counts   AstraZeneca, Envision Healthcare, Equinix, GE Capital, and Standard Life as some of its marquee customers.

ServiceNow Jira Service Desk
5/5 5/5

9. Learning Curve

ServiceNow is more enterprise-oriented and focused around ITIL, while JIRA was designed to be accessible by IT professionals from all organization types. Subsequently, Service Desk has a more moderate learning curve in store for the average IT professional when compared to ServiceNow. 

ServiceNow Jira Service Desk
4/5 4/5

10. Security Rating

ServiceNow scores an average security rating of 760 and Atlassian scores a 722.

Scoreboard and Summary

  ServiceNow Jira Service Desk
Capability set 4/5 3/5
Ease of use 3/5 4/5
Community support 4/5 4/5
Release rate 4/5 4/5
Pricing and support 4/5 5/5
API and extensibility 5/5 5/5
3rd party integrations 5/5 5/5
Companies that use it 5/5 5/5
Learning curve 4/5 4/5
Security rating 706 722
Total 4.2/5 4.3/5

For smaller IT shops with limited needs/requirements, JIRA Service Desk is a safe bet, especially since the platform can be easily scaled up and expanded to support more users and features. Organizations looking for a more structured ITSM and ITIL-focused solution may opt for ServiceNow's enterprise service management platform instead. Both platforms excel in their integration capabilities, so either solution can readily dovetail into an environment where disparate tools are being used. 

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