2 min

A big change is coming to ServiceNow’s Now platform. After all these years, the underlying database technology is about to change. ServiceNow has chosen to trade in the well-known MariaDB for RaptorDB, a fork of PostgreSQL equipped with additional technology for the Now platform.

Last week, Knowledge 24, the annual ServiceNow conference, was all about AI. For us, a reason to also look beyond AI to see what other innovations are noteworthy. One of them is a major technological change. The underlying database of the Now platform will be replaced for all customers. Customers will be migrated from MariaDB to RaptorDB.

The first customers already use the new RaptorDB, but most are still running on MariaDB. ServiceNow expects to need until the end of 2025 to migrate all customers to RaptorDB. First and foremost, this new database is a lot faster; for example, the number of transactions per minute goes up from 35,121 to 93,257.

The performance gain will vary from customer to customer and depend on how intensively the Now platform is used. According to ServiceNow, the performance gain will be most noticeable for large customers who are already demanding a lot from the database. ServiceNow expects a performance gain of 26% for smaller customers, 52% for medium-sized organizations, and 75% for really large organizations.

Een grote conferentiepresentatiedia met statistieken over 'Snellere werkruimten', waarbij percentages efficiëntieverbeteringen in een slecht verlichte ruimte benadrukken.

RaptorDB based on Swarm64 fork of PostgreSQL

In 2021, ServiceNow acquired Berlin-based database company Swarm64. Swarm64 developed a fork of PostgreSQL with improved OLAP performance. In doing so, it caught the attention of ServiceNow, which chose to acquire the entire company. Now, about three years later, ServiceNow is coming out with RaptorDB, a proprietary database for the Now platform. The technical people at ServiceNow let us know that RaptorDB is based on Swarm64, but has been further developed over the past few years to fit even better with the Now platform and the performance it requires.

Swapping out the database sounds like a small step, but it does have a substantial impact. MariaDB is originally a fork of MySQL, while RaptorDB is descended from PostgreSQL. Although the query syntax of MySQL and PostgreSQL is very similar, it is definitely different. Ultimately, the biggest difference is that PostgreSQL allows many advanced queries. Also, specific functions can be developed in the database to speed up queries.

In a conversation we had with ServiceNow about the database architecture, they were particularly keen to emphasize that they still think MariaDB is an excellent database suitable for many purposes. However, ServiceNow is running into limits as the Now platform gets bigger and more sophisticated.