Why ServiceNow Might Be Slowing Down for You

What can slow down ServiceNow? In a word, reporting.

But let’s step back.

ServiceNow is a powerhouse of the enterprise software world. They consistently lead among IT service management vendors, while also expanding to help their customers with other services, including HR, CSM, and financial operations.

Among its many features, ServiceNow is configurable. The platform has a single-tenant architecture, giving a ServiceNow customer their own web-service stack, their own database, and their own applications.

This arrangement allows a ServiceNow customer to make development changes without affecting other ServiceNow customers. This configurability also means that it’s easy to place many demands on the ServiceNow system.

And one set of demands, in particular, can reduce ServiceNow’s performance to unusable levels.

Tapping the Gold Mine of ServiceNow Data

When a ServiceNow customer succeeds with the ServiceNow platform, they generate a wealth of data about their users, their customers, and their own company. They immediately see an opportunity to get insights. They envision dashboards for anyone in the company who needs the visibility.

So they initially try moving the data to a data warehouse for reporting in a leading analytics tool such as Tableau or PowerBI. But that attempted transfer may be the reason that ServiceNow slows down.

It’s the story we’ve heard over and over, from one business after another.

Here’s What Slows Down ServiceNow

Web services.

Usually, that’s what companies initially use to move data to a database.

“That worked okay for a little while,” recalls Paul Liesse of CDW. “But those ETL’s put a lot of stress on ServiceNow because of how the web services work.”

ServiceNow themselves recognize the impacts of web services. While with ServiceNow, Venu Malyala reported that “most of the ETL tools in the market leverage web services, which adds a lot of load to the system.” 

Why Aren’t Web Services Enough?

When a development team creates a homegrown connection from ServiceNow to a database, they typically need to expose an API. But the pull mechanism that’s meant to transfer the data also creates impacts on ServiceNow performance.

If the volume to transfer is small, no big deal. But when those volumes grow – as they will when the company uses ServiceNow successfully – those calls via web services can seriously slow down even the most powerful of platforms.

Says Who?

“A place like Accenture, we have over 500,000 employees,” says Jeff Lowenthal, who is an Enterprise Architect there. “Unleashing an API in a completely unmanaged way to that population was not going to be a good decision. And we’ve actually had a couple instances where people … somehow got in a back door and just copied our logs from the first day we turned on the system, right? It immediately craters the system.” 

Jane Stone of AbbVie reports a similar experience, although at a different company using ServiceNow. At PayPal, Naveed Khawar, explains that ServiceNow themselves prompted PayPal to use a separate database for the kinds of reports that PayPal was pursuing.

How to Preserve ServiceNow Performance

For the sake of your company’s scalability, the performance of your ServiceNow instance is crucial. A rapidly growing company cannot afford the bottleneck of a faltering ITSM instance. If it crawls, so does your work.

To address this problem, some companies try to extract ServiceNow data only as nightly batch transfers. But that might mean working with obsolete data or running out of time to complete the transfer. Fujitsu found that extracting ServiceNow data as batch exports overnight took up too much time – and interfered with their 24-hour global service delivery.

All the companies mentioned in this article – including ServiceNow – reached a point that web services were no longer sufficient to preserve ServiceNow performance for data replication, whether in real time or as batch transfers.

Outgrowing their initial standalone integrations, they switched to an automation solution that they can use to push only the ServiceNow data that changes. Such dynamic replication avoids noticeable performance impacts on the ServiceNow platform.

This solution is Perspectium DataSync, an application that runs natively in ServiceNow. DataSync’s message queuing prevents data loss, and its end-to-end encryption keeps data secure. But perhaps most importantly, its “push” data streaming minimizes impacts on ServiceNow – letting the entire organization enjoy the full power of their ServiceNow investment.

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Alfredo Deambrosi