Why You Should Avoid Web Services and API ServiceNow Integrations
While Web Services and API ServiceNow integrations offer an agile approach to developing new integrations, enterprise-scale organizations in particular should note the drawbacks.
Because of how APIs interact with platforms such as ServiceNow, their use can severely impact system performance.
And while Web Services and API ServiceNow integrations are highly customizable, those same customizations can also impede performance, as well as continuity for the project if the developer responsible for such customizations leaves the organization.
- What Does API Stand for?
- What Is an API?
- What are Web Services?
- What is an API Integration?
- Why do Organizations use Web Services and API Integrations?
- Limitations of Web-Services and API ServiceNow Integrations
What Does API Stand for?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. In this instance, “application” refers to any software, system, database or similar, with a distinct function.
What Is an API?
APIs are a cluster of tools, protocols, and definitions designed for creating and integrating new applications. They are used to facilitate communication between two software components.
For example, APIs can be used to synchronize two ServiceNow instances to automate the transfer of data and information between them.
Developers use APIs to fast-track software development. APIs offer various benefits to organizations, such as improving app functionality and scalability, automating tasks/workflows, and more.
Instead of starting app development from scratch, developers can use pre-built APIs to “plug” apps into existing company networks or infrastructure.
When done correctly, APIs allow developers to optimize their time and efforts as they can benefit from already available resources and pre-existing designs.
However, inappropriate use of API can undo these advantages. For example, when data volumes exceed what API-based integrations can sustain, the integration can break.
Developers quickly become burdened with a technical debt – having to spend time fixing the integration. Tasks and processes that require timely data delivery are also negatively affected.
What are Web Services?
While API and Web Services are similar, they are not the same. That’s because Web Services are a type of API with stricter requirements regarding network communication and accessibility, and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) as the primary protocol.
Developers can combine different Web Services for complex tasks and enable synchronization between apps without coding. This is both cost-efficient and time-savvy.
However, despite their many advantages, API and Web Services-based integrations have limitations, particularly concerning handling large data volumes.
What is an API Integration?
API integrations leverage API technology to enable two systems to communicate with each other. In turn, this enables data between systems to be transferred and updated automatically, without the need for manual intervention and/or data entry.
API ServiceNow integrations allow organizations to connect their ServiceNow instance and data to the wider enterprise.
ServiceNow’s own integration solution – Integration Hub – is an example of an API-based integration.
Why do Organizations use Web Services and API Integrations?
Organizations use API-based integrations to optimize their time, efforts, and costs related to software development. Web services and APIs offer an excellent way to build apps quickly with minimal to no coding.
Since these are pre-built functions, developers can leverage different functionalities in their apps without diving deep into their build complexity.
- Automation – API integration enables apps/systems to exchange data directly, automating core workflows and processes for increased productivity and efficiency. Syncing data between multiple apps eliminates data silos and repetitive actions for enhanced automation.
- Consistency – Data synchronization across applications ensures that the data remains up-to-date and consistent throughout the enterprise’s tech stack. It helps improve data accuracy, maintains data quality, and ensures high data availability allowing stakeholders to access the right data at the right time.
- Visibility – API integration facilitates a standardized data exchange process between enterprise apps. As data moves across apps freely and uniformly, business leaders have a clearer, end-to-end view of all traffic within their internal processes and systems. Teams can easily monitor data for anomalies and use it for BI to uncover valuable insights or for performance reporting.
Limitations of Web-Services and API ServiceNow Integrations
Though API ServiceNow integrations may be a good fit for some organizations, for enterprise-scale ServiceNow users, it may lead to significant performance degradation and threaten business continuity.
The limitations of Web Services and API ServiceNow integrations include:
Performance degradation preventing real-time data transfers and insight
Web services/API-based integrations compete for ServiceNow’s bandwidth to operate. As data volumes grow, this inevitably impacts ServiceNow’s performance, leading to slow queries and other performance-related issues.
For ebonding integrations – where two systems are paired via bi-directional data synchronization – this prevents data and information flowing freely and on-time between systems, affecting the employees and processes that require them.
Data Loss in the event of an outage or transfer time out.
Even when set up correctly, there is still a risk of data loss when using Web Services and API to connect systems. That’s because if there is an outage at a connected system, integrated data is not “queued”, so if the transfer fails, the data included in the transfer can be lost.
This is even more problematic without sufficient capabilities for monitoring the integration’s status. In this instance, a data transfer timing out could go unnoticed, along with the lost data.
Unfortunately, APIs increase the likelihood of issues such as data transfers timing out, because of the additional strain they put on ServiceNow’s operational bandwidth.
API integrations are complex
API technology aims to provide a fast and easy way to connect systems – but they often require significant customization before they can meet an organization’s requirements.
While they are less resource intensive than building an integration from scratch, significant resources are still required to customize and maintain the integration over time.
This means employees working on the integration are often under pressure to rush the integration’s implementation and maintenance using quick fixes instead of stable, long-term solutions.
This leads to errors and broken integrations, creating inconsistencies in data and, increasing the organization’s technical debt.
When API errors, inconsistent data, and integration failures become a regular occurrence, organizations must devote more resources to implementing and maintaining custom integrations to avoid data loss.
As well as being a burden on internal resources, this also presents business continuity risks, as the person responsible for the integrations needs a thorough understanding of the APIs and customizations to be effective.
Without such an understanding, updates to the API can have unforeseen consequences that break the integration and disrupt operations.
Thus, organizations are exposed to risk when the person responsible for the integration(s) leaves the business.
The organization is then tied to replacing the employee with a similarly-skilled new hire, limiting the options for recruitment. After hiring, the new employee will likely still need time to familiarize themselves with any documentation detailing the APIs and their use.
Often, documentation for the APIs and their use is often incomplete/insufficient – making the on-boarding process more difficult.
API integrations can lead to serious security vulnerabilities if not adequately secured. Because the technology is so common, and because they facilitate access to sensitive data, they are a common target for cyber-criminals.
Because of this, further resources must be expended to regularly test the API’s security.
The most common API security risks include security misconfiguration, user- and function-level authorization, broken object level, excessive data exposure, and poor logging and monitoring, to name a few.
ServiceNow-Native Integration Applications: The Performance Impact-Free, API Alternative
Generally, organizations choose to build custom Web Services/API-based integrations because they seem quick to implement with low upfront costs. What they fail to consider is long-term and hidden costs, continuity and consistency, and whether the API can effectively scale with growing data demands.
Often, enterprise-scale organizations that opt for API-based integrations are forced into abandoning the technology when it becomes apparent it is not fit for purpose.
Fortunately, such organizations have an alternative in Perspectium – a ServiceNow-native integration application delivered as-a-service, by trusted ServiceNow integration partners.
Push Technology-based Integrations
Because it functions natively within ServiceNow, there is no need to make API calls to the ServiceNow platform to initiate transactions.
Instead, Perspectium leverage “Push” technology – a far more efficient approach in terms of resources and scalability.
This limits the strain on ServiceNow’s operational bandwidth, preserving its performance and enabling real-time data insight.
Mitigate the Risk of Data Loss
With Perspectium applications natively installed within ServiceNow, Push technology replicates ServiceNow data and transfers it to a cloud-enabled queue.
This means that in the event of an outage, data is not lost – it simply waits in the queue until the target system is back online.
As Perspectium integrations are managed by ServiceNow integration experts, complexity is no longer an issue for the end-user. Instead, internal resources can be more efficiently focussed on value-adding initiatives.
All the end-user needs to do is contact Perspectium, and let our integration experts know about your project’s requirements.
As well as subverting the risks inherent to API integrations, Perspectium applications support best-practice security capabilities such as at-rest and in-transit encryption and data obfuscation.
- Learn more: ServiceNow Security and Integration
Speak with an Integration Expert
Want to learn more about Perspectium’s ServiceNow-native, performance impact-free integrations?
The Perspectium Pedigree
Perhaps the most significant indication of Perspectium’s quality, is that ServiceNow themselves use our applications and services internally.
- Free whitepaper: Big Data Integration at ServiceNow
As with many other Perspectium customers, ServiceNow were facing challenges as their data volumes and usage scaled. The project was further complicated by the organization’s CRM solution being based on multiple ServiceNow instances.
To combine ServiceNow data and distribute it around the enterprise, ServiceNow were relying on cumbersome web service calls, which created performance issues for the production servers.
The volume of data and its distribution between various systems meant comprehensive analysis of data was difficult, and timely insight essentially impossible.
They also needed to feed data within ServiceNow instances into various predictive solutions.
Since predictive solutions “learn” by consuming more data, ServiceNow needed an integration solution that could handle high-throughput, without affecting their instance performance.
High-throughput and low performance impact allows organizations to maximize the amount of records the integration could transfer per day.
So with these requirements outlined, ServiceNow decided to on-board Perspectium as their integration service provider.
Now, Perspectium’s highly efficient integrations replicate data from 10 production instances of ServiceNow into 4 SAP/HANA databases for analysis by Sales, Marketing, Finance, and other departments.
Transactional data transfers feed 200+ dashboards and five predictive solutions in the big data environment. Production data alone accounts for about 20 million transfers per day, without causing the performance issues associated with Web Services and API integrations.
Thanks to Perspectium, ServiceNow have a much more efficient architecture for distributing ServiceNow data securely and quickly around the enterprise. For example, the ServiceNow BI team can provide quick results to the business, able to turn around analytics requests in a few days thanks to Perspectium’s ease of use and configuration.
If you wish to know more about Perspectium integration solutions for ServiceNow, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org