ServiceNow Spokes and the IntegrationHub Explained
A ServiceNow Spoke is a “logical group of related actions, subflows and supporting application files.” In the ServiceNow IntegrationHub, Spokes facilitate the connection between ServiceNow and other systems.
What is the ServiceNow IntegrationHub (IH)?
The IntegrationHub is an API-enabled platform for integrating ServiceNow with other API-enabled systems.
A number of subscription levels for the IntegrationHub are available, with the range of functionality – including the availability of pre-made Spokes – varying between subscriptions.
What is a ServiceNow IntegrationHub Spoke?
IntegrationHub Spokes use API to trigger actions in external systems to facilitate connections between ServiceNow and other tools. A number of prebuilt Spokes are available – depending on the user’s IntegrationHub subscription level – and custom, reusable Spokes can also be built by users.
With ServiceNow Spokes, users are able to trigger basic actions in connected systems, such as creating a record in Salesforce.
No-code, but still complex
Using prebuilt Spokes provides ServiceNow users with a no-code approach to creating new integrations. However, no-code does not mean no-complexity. Creating integrations that meet the organizations requirements typically involves a time-consuming process of piecing together several actions and steps.
When creating new Spokes, ServiceNow states that “familiarity with application development” is required. However, ServiceNow also offers the Spoke Generator application, for a guided Spoke-creation experience without generating code.
As with working with pre-built Spokes, no-code does not mean no-complexity. Since ServiceNow only provides the platform, users are burdened with creating, maintaining and troubleshooting faulty ServiceNow Spoke-based integrations – often a time-consuming process.
Unfortunately, complexity is not the only issue …
Limitations of ServiceNow Spokes and the IntegrationHub
Spokes and the IntegrationHub has a number of limitations that organizations must consider when planning new, or revising existing integrations.
From complexity in configuration, to limited throughput, such limitations are a non-starter for many organizations.
In fact, ServiceNow themselves use a different approach for their own internal integration requirements to overcome such limitations.
Some of the most commonly cited limitations of ServiceNow Spokes and the IntegrationHub are:
- Complex configuration
As mentioned above, choosing to work with ServiceNow Spokes can be a complex undertaking.
Building custom ServiceNow Spokes typically requires development expertise, and even working with pre-built Spokes adds a significant, time-consuming burden on employees.
Even for basic tasks and information, a user must combine several actions and building blocks to create an end-to-end process. The ServiceNow forum is replete with questions regarding troubleshooting Spokes and their configuration challenges.
- API issues including performance degradation
Since Integration Hub is API-based, there are a number of common API-related issues facing ServiceNow users.
Firstly, since API calls share the same data layer as ServiceNow users, API-enabled processes consume the operational bandwidth required by ServiceNow to complete on-platform tasks. This means slower queries, reporting delays, unresponsive dashboards and other performance related issues are common.
Performance degradation due to API often forces organizations into workarounds such as reporting outside of operational hours, preventing the organization from benefiting from real-time data and insight.
Performance can degrade to the point that reports generated outside of operational hours – and other similar actions – are not complete when business resumes, and/or can fail outright.
API-based integrations also face issues with security, significant maintenance requirements and more. For more information, see this list of issues associated with API-based integrations.
- Significant strain on internal resources
As is typical with many API-enabled integration approaches, the vendor (in this case, ServiceNow) is not responsible for implementing or maintaining the integration.
As such, organizations must utilize internal resources in order to get integrations up and running, and ensure they stay operational.
As well as taking development resources away from more proactive, value adding tasks, managing integrations internally can cause issues with continuity.
For example, when a developer responsible for integration implementation and maintenance leaves, the organization is limited in terms of how they can fill the vacant position. The new hire will require expertise in the method of integration (in this case, the IntegrationHub and API).
And even with existing expertise, the new hire will likely have to be trained so they can work with the particular customizations the organization has introduced to ensure the integration meets its requirements.
Whilst documentation of the integration can help, such documentation is rarely comprehensive, and is often neglected over time. This increases the chances that existing integrations will become ineffective or non-functional over time, and create a costly technical debt.
- IH can only support very basic operations
Despite there being a variety of ServiceNow Spokes, they can only support a handful of actions. Thus, users often need to build custom spokes to suit their specific needs. The no-code benefits of the IH and Spokes can quickly be undermined by the need for extensive custom coding.
- Creating a bidirectional integration is challenging
Many ServiceNow users require bi-directional integrations between ServiceNow and connected systems. However, this adds further complexity to the process as the connected system must also be configured to trigger actions in ServiceNow. ServiceNow’s support for the IntegrationHub does not extend into connected systems, so many organizations face significant hurdles when creating bi-directional integrations.
To avoid such issues, organizations should instead work with eBonding integration providers with expertise in creating and managing such connections.
- Additional functionalities may require additional licenses
IntegrationHub charges based on transactions. When users collect data from disparate sources, they can consume a significant amount of transactions.
Additionally, pre-built Spokes are available per IntegrationHub subscription level, so users might need to upgrade to access a particular Spoke.
The Alternative to ServiceNow Spokes and the IntegrationHub
Many organizations simply do not have the resources to maintain API-based integrations in-house. And while the IntegrationHub provides a no-code method of creating basic integrations, it is not without complexities.
With this in mind, many organizations find greater success and value by working with integration-as-a-service providers.
No-Maintenance integrations, implemented by ServiceNow experts
Integration-as-a-service providers offer a no-maintenance alternative to implementing and managing integrations.
One such provider is the ServiceNow partner Perspectium.
Created by the founding developer of ServiceNow – David Loo – Perspectium is an expert service and solution for replicating, synchronizing and integrating ServiceNow data.
It allows ServiceNow users to enjoy the benefits of the IntegrationHub – in its ServiceNow-native delivery and short learning curve – whilst also enabling more advanced integration scenarios, and without the need for in-house maintenance.
Perspectium not only implements integrations, but maintains them over time, and offers 24/7, 365 support for its users.
The Benefits of the Perspectium Approach
After his role as a founding developer of ServiceNow, David Loo created Perspectium, and used his intimate knowledge of ServiceNow to create an integration solution or service that overcomes issues commonly faced by ServiceNow users.
As such, Perspectium is able to provide its users with benefits including:
- A fully managed service
With Perspectium, all ServiceNow integrations are managed by experts – from implementation to maintenance and provide 24/7 x 365 support. It’s a no-maintenance solution for the end user – users need not dedicate internal resources or time to build and maintain integrations.
- No API or web services
Users can eliminate performance and security issues by opting for Perspectium. Since Perspectium’s integration applications operate natively within ServiceNow, there’s no need for external calls (APIs or web services) to ServiceNow.
This improves the performance of the ServiceNow platform since operational bandwidth is not consumed to facilitate API calls. With this approach, Perspectium is able to provide throughput of over 1 million records per day.
It also reduces other API associated issues, such as security, internal resource requirements for integration maintenance and more.
- Easy to use
Since Perspectium handles implementation and maintenance, our integrations are no code for the end-user.
Users also benefit from the ServiceNow-native installation, meaning any configuration changes are done via the ServiceNow UI with which users are already familiar.
- Prevent data loss
Perspectium uses a message broker system (MBS) to facilitate data transfers. Instead of data being transferred directly from source to target, push technology replicates data to the cloud-enabled MBS, with the target retrieving data from the cloud.
This means that even during an outage at the target system, transferred data simply waits, encrypted in the MBS’s queue until the target system is back online.
Integrations That Just Work
With Perspectium, organizations can stop fighting to make ServiceNow integrations work, and simply let Perspectium work for them instead.
Learn more about our purpose-built integration solutions by reaching out to our experts!