Introduction to ServiceNow’s Flow Designer: Integration Hub + Spokes
With Sheikh Kamarah
In this article, we're going to talk about ServiceNow Flow Designer and, more specifically, Integration Hub within Flow Designer. Integration Hub enables the execution of third-party APIs as a part of a flow when a specific event occurs in ServiceNow. These integrations, referred to as spokes, are easy to configure and enable you to quickly add powerful actions without the need to write a script. For example, you can post a message and incident details in a Slack channel when a high-priority incident is created.
Integration Hub and Spokes Explained
Integration Hub is an extension of Flow Designer that allows you to communicate with external systems. If you're familiar with workflows in ServiceNow, you would use orchestration activities to facilitate this communication to an external system. Flow Designer uses Integration Hub; more specifically, it uses spokes to facilitate this communication. Spokes are bundled sets of tasks that you can use to facilitate the integrations that you want to build that communication with an external system.
For example, out-of-the-box, when you have an Integration Hub starter pack or enterprise, you'll get a set of spokes that you can use out-of-box — Slack is one of the more popular ones. The spokes provide you with actions that you can use to push or receive messages from that third-party external system. If there's not a spoke that fits your needs, you can create a spoke by creating an action, and that would be your custom spoke, in which you can use other Integration Hub features like a REST step or a script step to build out your integration the way you need to.
Where to Find Integration Hub in Flow Designer
Now that we know what Integration Hub and spokes are, where do they live? You might have guessed it lives in Flow Designer, but let's take a look at where it pops up in Flow Designer. There are three main areas in which you'll find the Integration Hub extension in Flow Designer.
For our example, we are going to create a new flow. To begin, we will click new, and select flow from the drop-down options. We will call our flow test and click submit.
The first place that you may notice the Integration Hub would be in the trigger. As we open, you'll see that we have a REST API - Asynchronous trigger that can be used to ingest inbound web services. This will trigger our flow to do whatever we design it to do (reference video at 2:37). This is the first place you might see Integration Hub; this is perfect for use with Webhooks, and it is a new feature that was recently added in one of the last two releases. You'll see that you can provide a path and a method for the flow as well as set up authentication.
Then, if you go to add an action to design the flow, you'll see how spokes tie in with options such as Microsoft AD, Microsoft SCCM, Microsoft Teams, and of course, the famous Slack Webhooks. These are the bundles of actions that you can use to facilitate that conversation between ServiceNow and whatever other external systems you want. If we click on Slack Webhooks and select Post Change Details, this is where we would provide the details to set up the connection; select done, and you have your communication. In some cases, you may need to set up credentials, which you can do in the connection and credentials application, where you can use aliases as needed. Then you would set that up associated with your particular spoke, and you're off on your way to integration.
Creating Custom Spoke
While there are a lot of different spokes available, you may have a need to do something more specific or custom. Thus, the third place we would see the Integration Hub is when you're creating a custom spoke. To create a custom spoke, you will need to create an action, and then define your inputs and any steps that you need to take. One of those steps would be the actual communication with the external system (reference video at 5:00)
Under Utilities, you see the Script step with Integration Hub enabled, which will allow you to write a custom script to create the web service. A simpler way to approach this is to look under Integrations and create a REST web service with the REST step. You can also utilize PowerShell, SFTP, SOAP, SSH, or JDBC. There are a lot of different options here when you need to create a custom integration.
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