While there is debate about the efficacy of API integration, there is no debating its rate of adoption. 

Over time, API integration has become a familiar feature of modern, digital, and data-driven organizations. APIs are commonly used when integrating ITSM solutions such as ServiceNow.

API integrations are a common approach to connecting ServiceNow to the wider enterprise.
ServiceNow provide their own API-based integration platform, the Integration Hub.

But what is API integration? What’s behind its adoption? And is it really the gold standard for integrating ITSM?

What is an API Integration?

An API integration connects two or more systems/applications via application programming interfaces (APIs).

A seamless API integration automates data exchange across multiple systems, with the aim of improving internal collaboration, data consistency, and operational efficiency. 

There is a wide range of applications for API integrations, including:

Why is API Integration so Common in ITSM?

When data is siloed in one system, its use is limited to how that system can apply it, and its access limited to users of said system. This is particularly problematic for ITSM solutions, since the processes associated with ITSM often require multiple systems and departments to fulfil. 

When systems are connected, the data within them can be more widely accessed, and users across the enterprise have more options to use and collaborate on/with the data per their needs. 

Data can flow freely from systems such as ServiceNow, and into more accessible data repositories such as data warehouses and lakes, or solutions for reporting, analytics, business intelligence (BI), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

It can even be bi-directionally synchronized between multiple ServiceNow instances or other ITSM solutions. 

But this only speaks to the popularity of integrating ITSM solutions in general.

As to why API is a popular integration technology, its versatility and widespread recognition are huge factors. 

Many developers understand how to work with API, so many developers build API and API-compatible solutions. 

The perceived ease of implementation is also a factor in API integration’s adoption.

Instead of building things from the ground up, developers can use pre-built features and existing APIs to implement integrations. This approach accelerates development, reduces costs, and enhances integration reliability. 

As such, organizations that can work effectively with API and API integrations can rapidly deploy new functionalities, streamline operations, and stay agile in a competitive market. 

However, this does not mean that organizations do not struggle with maintaining and implementing API integrations – in fact, many do. 

Benefits of API integrations

When implemented effectively, API integrations can provide the following benefits:


API integrations automate data exchange between systems, optimizing business processes and boosting efficiency.


With a standardized method for data exchange, API integrations can help introduce a 360-degree view of all data within connected internal systems. Thus, organizations can more easily track data, monitor anomalies, and extract valuable insights for informed decision-making. 


Automating data transfers through API integration eliminates the scope for human errors that can negate the value of insight, negatively affect operations and lead to poor decision making. It ensures accuracy and appropriate handling of large and complex datasets.

User Experience

API integration can connect multiple systems seamlessly, creating a unified user experience. Relevant stakeholders can access data from different sources via a single interface with which they are comfortable, improving employee satisfaction and productivity.


API integration allows diverse software applications to work together seamlessly, regardless of their underlying architecture. This interoperability ensures smooth data and process flow across cloud-based, on-prem, and third-party solutions.

Limitations of API Integrations in ITSM: Why Are They Unsuitable for All Integration Scenarios?

While API integrations are suitable in many situations, there are common use cases whereby the efficacy of API integrations breaks down, and the technology’s limitations – both technical and practical – are apparent. 

As such, many organizations should avoid API integrations and opt for alternatives.

Technical limitations of API integrations in ITSM include:

  • Performance degradation 

APIs operate externally to the systems they connect, retrieving data by making requests to the connected system(s). Such requests, the subsequent retrieval and then transfer of data require the connected system(s) operational bandwidth. 

This means more frequent API calls for large volumes of data put increased strain on the connected systems. 

This results in poor system performance which affects the users on the platform and the rate of data transfers out of the platform.

  • Data loss

When it comes to web services or API-based integrations, there’s always a risk of data loss during transfer. If a connected system experiences an outage and data in transit is not stored in a queue, a failed transfer can lead to data loss. 

When an organization is suffering API related performance degradation, the likelihood of data transfer timeouts increases. 

Without adequate and advanced monitoring and backup capabilities, timeouts can go unnoticed, and data loss could be permanent, further compromising data integrity and the integration’s reliability.

  • Security risks

Due to their widespread usage, APIs are frequent targets for cybercriminals. As such, API integrations demand robust security measures to protect sensitive data; otherwise, they might introduce potential security vulnerabilities. 

Common security risks include misconfigurations, inadequate user and function-level authorization, broken object-level authorization, excessive data exposure, and insufficient logging and monitoring. 

Thus, organizations must take the necessary steps to keep integrations secure

Practical limitations of API integrations in ITSM include:

  • Implementation can be complex and drain resources

While API integrations are less complex than building an integration from scratch, this does not mean zero complexity. 

Implementing an API integration involves experienced internal resources, considerable planning, requirements gathering and assessing/redesigning internal systems, procedures, data management practices, security protocols, governance policies and more. 

Considerable customization by experienced developers is also often required to ensure the API integration fits an organization’s unique circumstances. 

  • Considerable and on-going maintenance is required

Once implemented, API integrations must be maintained and tested to ensure they remain operational and the outcomes of data transfers can be relied upon. 

Since API integrations are typically built by third-party vendors – and not the provider of the/a connected system(s) – the user must ensure they remain operational when connected systems are updated. 

Depending on the integration vendor, errors and issues often require in-house resources to address.

  • Technical debt is a real risk

The pressures of internal maintenance often lead to developers deploying quick fixes instead of stable, long-term solutions. Over time, these workarounds become more challenging to maintain, leading to further errors, broken integrations and an increasing technical debt

  • Poor continuity 

API integrations come with serious business continuity risks. Because they are often heavily customized after implementation, key knowledge can be lost when developers responsible for the integrations leave the organization

Thorough documentation can provide some security against this, but it’s common for documentation to be insufficient and be missing critical information. 

When maintaining API integrations with internal resources, organizations are also cornered into backfilling those positions with similarly skilled and experienced developers that know how to work with an API integration, both technically and regarding processes and best practices.

  • Difficult to scale

While faster than custom, DIY integrations, API integrations can still require considerable time and effort to implement and maintain. 

As more API integrations are introduced, organizations face more complexity in maintenance and difficulties in scaling further.

The process can quickly become overwhelming due to issues like inadequate documentation, spaghetti code, performance challenges, etc. 

Over time, as support requests for integration increase, IT teams become deeply engrossed in managing the integration, often losing their focus on other high-priority operations/projects.  

When Should Organizations Consider an Alternative to API Integration?

The aforementioned limitations of API integrations in ITSM mean that the approach isn’t suitable for every organization. 

Alternatives to API integrations should be considered should any of the following concerns apply to your organization:

  • A requirement for large or frequent data transfers.
  • A limited capacity to effectively implement and maintain the integration, including the necessary resources for testing, updating code, and troubleshooting issues.
  • Security concerns related to API integrations, such as vulnerabilities in data transfer or access control.
  • High developer turnover that could undermine the continuity of API integrations and limited capacity to effectively create and manage API integration documentation.

A Better Way to Integrate ITSM

A modern approach to connecting systems that avoids the limitations of API integrations is push technology-based integration. 

A push technology integration is an often vendor-managed technology for transferring data that operates natively within the primary solution. This means data can be transferred far more efficiently and securely, in higher volumes, and with less performance impact on the primary solution. 

While they aren’t as versatile and widely available as customer-managed, API integration platforms, vendor-managed push technology integrations mean organizations can enjoy a hands-off implementation and maintenance experience. 

So, where push technology integrations are available, they are certainly worth consideration. 

Push Technology Integrations for ServiceNow

Users of the widely adopted ServiceNow platform can benefit from push technology integrations through Perspectium, an official integration partner for ServiceNow, and integration service provider to ServiceNow.

Perspectium provides advanced data replication and integration solutions, purpose-built for ServiceNow and capable of transferring over 20 million records per day without impacting performance. 

Its DataSync solution integrates ServiceNow with a range of targets, enabling massive data transfers dynamically and in bulk. 

With ServiceBond, organizations have a bidirectional, ServiceNow eBonding integration solution that synchronizes multiple ServiceNow instances or ServiceNow with third-party solutions in real time.

To learn more about Perspectium’s push technology-based integrations, talk to us.

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