The ServiceNow data retention policy may not suffice for organizations dealing with high data volumes. To stay compliant with the ServiceNow data retention policy, some organizations may need to purchase additional storage or implement an off-platform archiving solution. 

This post covers the frequently asked questions regarding the ServiceNow data retention policy and the best practices that help organizations stay compliant. 

Table of contents:

  1. ServiceNow Data Retention Policy: FAQs
  2. Best Practices for Complying with the ServiceNow Data Retention Policy
  3. Reducing the ServiceNow Database Footprint
  4. Take Control of ServiceNow Archiving
ServiceNow Data Retention Policy Explained

ServiceNow Data Retention Policy: FAQs

What is the ServiceNow storage limit?

As standard, the ServiceNow data retention policy outlines a 4TB contractual limit. While it is technically possible to exceed this limit, most contractual agreements dictate that ServiceNow can charge additional fees for exceeding storage limits. 

What is a ServiceNow database footprint, and why is it important?

A database footprint refers to the amount of space that is consumed to store a collection of data. In other words, it is the volume of data stored within a system (in this case, ServiceNow).

Understanding the ServiceNow data footprint is essential, as proactive action can prevent organizations from reaching the ServiceNow storage limit and incurring additional fees.

What contributes to the database footprint?

ITSM solutions like ServiceNow generate a lot of insightful data that is useful to retain for analysis and process improvement. They also generate a lot of data that organizations are legally mandated to keep. 

Related post: What ServiceNow’s Success Means for Your ServiceNow Data Volumes

Archival data is also a common and significant contributor to ServiceNow’s database footprint. ServiceNow’s out-of-the-box archiving feature only allows archive data to be stored on-platform, meaning it is not a solution for managing the database footprint. 

However, ServiceNow-native add-ons that enable off-platform archiving are available. 

Featured Resource: Managing ServiceNow Data Volume with Off-platform archiving

How do users view their database footprint?

There are two automated workflows available for viewing the database footprint of one or multiple ServiceNow instances. Both make a request for the database footprint via Service Catalogs and are completed using end-to-end automation.

  1. Instance Database Footprint
    Returns the database size of one instance, along with the top 100 tables by size, along with their usage in GBs.
  2. Cloud Usage Request
    Returns a list of all instances associated with the account and the total usage in TBs.

More detailed information and step-by-step guides can be found here.

Can users purchase additional ServiceNow Storage?

Additional storage can be purchased in 1TB increments, and ServiceNow typically contacts customers to discuss additional storage requirements as they reach or exceed the limit. 

How much is additional ServiceNow storage?

While ServiceNow is not readily forthcoming with the pricing of additional storage, users have cited as much as $20k per additional 1TB.

Best Practices for Complying with the ServiceNow Data Retention Policy

Maintaining a clean and reduced database footprint in the ServiceNow instance can yield several benefits. Instance performance benefits from leaner and better optimized tables, and maintenance requirements and technical debt are mitigated. 

Organizations experience quicker system clone times and faster retrieval of backups during emergencies.

And importantly, organizations can avoid the need to purchase costly additional storage.

Defining internal retention requirements, in line with regulatory compliance

Having an internal data retention policy can go a long way to preventing excessive data growth. In creating such a policy, relevant stakeholders from the records retention department, compliance teams, HR, analytics etc should define a suitable retention period for the various types of data and systems that store it.

Creating a documented policy and periodically reviewing it and its application can help ensure best practices are followed throughout the organization. The data retention policy can also be used to shape auto deletion rules and processes and where they should and should not be applied.

Periodically reviewing the database footprint

Reviewing the aforementioned Instance Database Footprint report can help identify large tables, inefficiently retaining data. With a better understanding of where data is retained, organizations can come up with a process to better manage data retention, or a plan to manually reduce the size of data in particular tables.

Reducing the database footprint

Without a way of reducing the database footprint, the best practices for managing the database footprint will only get an organization so far. 

Related Resource: ServiceNow Data Archiving Best Practices 

There are three key approaches organizations can follow to reduce the ServiceNow database footprint:

Reducing the ServiceNow Database Footprint

The process available to reduce the database footprint in ServiceNow are as follows:

Off-platform Archiving

Off-platform archiving solutions allow ServiceNow users to store archive data in their own repositories, reducing the database footprint in ServiceNow.

This is in contrast to ServiceNow’s default archiving feature, which does not reduce the database footprint, and only moves historical servicenow data from production, to archive tables.

Since archive tables exist within the platform, there’s no change in the database footprint whatsoever. 

Related resource: ServiceNow Archive Rules Explained

That said, archiving with ServiceNow’s default capabilities can help improve performance, improving the speed at which production tables can be queried. However, more substantial performance gains will be achieved through archiving off-platform.

Related post: What Is Data Archiving?: A Guide for ServiceNow Users

Table Rotation

Put simply, table rotation is a way of managing the growth of data within tables. It periodically deletes old data from tables to make way for new data.

Using “sys_created_on” data sets are separated into multiple tables (subtables or “shards”) in periods defined by the user. The number of tables available is governed by the number of Rotations, also set by the user.

I.e. If the Duration is 7 days, and Rotations set to 4, each subtable will retain the data from the previous 7 days.  

When the last subtable in a rotation is written (in this case, the fourth subtable), the first subtable in the rotation is overwritten in a cyclical process. 

There are numerous limitations of table rotation that mean it is not suitable for all data. 

Old data is not necessarily without value and in many cases, retention mandates apply, meaning it should not – or cannot – be deleted.

Additionally, Table Rotation can sometimes have unexpected results in conjunction with Performance Analytics

Table Cleaner

Table cleaner is another process for managing ServiceNow data volumes. By default, table cleaner runs once per hour, deleting older, expired or unwanted records from tables. 

The records subject to deletion are governed by table cleaner rules including: 

  • Matchfield (typically a date value such as “sys_created_on”)
  • Age in seconds determining when the delete event triggers
  • Filter conditions to further refine criteria for deletion

As with table rotation, there are some limitations. 

Firstly, table rotation and table cleaner rules cannot run in conjunction.

Also, the performance of a table cleaner job depends on the size of the table, the number of rows to be deleted, and other specified conditions. For example, performance is severely degraded if there’s a custom column without an index in a large table. 

Table cleaner is configured to spend only 20 minutes deleting records from a single table. Once this time limit is reached the job concludes. For slow queries, a smaller number of records will be deleted during the 20 minute period.

Take Control of ServiceNow Archiving

As established, ServiceNow only allows on-platform archiving out of the box. However, users can expand their archiving capabilities with the ServiceNow-native application, Data Archive for ServiceNow.

Featured Resource: What is Data Archive for ServiceNow? (Infographic)

Data Archive is a Perspectium solution, accessed and configured from the ServiceNow UI. With Data Archive, users can: 

  • Archive ServiceNow data externally, within their own repositories for maximum control.
  • Make ServiceNow archive data available to third-party solutions for analysis, AI, ML and more.
  • Archive records as many times as required and to multiple targets simultaneously.
  • Restore archived data to ServiceNow by the record and table (or multiple tables) whenever required.
  • Schedule archiving events or archive on-demand.

Featured Resource: Data Archive for ServiceNow: Solution Sheet

Perspectium was created by ServiceNow’s founding developer, David Loo, to overcome the common challenges associated with getting data out of the platform.

Using an API-free approach to data replication Perspectium is able to transfer massive volumes of data securely, and without performance issues.

By using Data Archive for ServiceNow to reduce the database footprint, users can enjoy additional storage fees and enjoy better ServiceNow performance, improved data availability and greater control over the archival process.
Do you want to learn more about off-platform data archiving? Talk to us!

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