Is domain separation the right choice?
Let’s say your company just completed an acquisition and you need to figure out what to do with your new entity’s data. Or maybe you need to separate data sets for different groups. Whatever the reason, should you consider domain separation? What exactly is it and would it work for your company?
Domain Separation allows organisations to separate application data, processes, and administrative tasks into logical groupings called “domains.” It’s beneficial for companies who:
- Need to enforce data segregation between business entities
- Need data separation between service providers, customers, partners, or departments within their organisation
- Have different business process definitions and user interfaces within the same organisation
- As a parent company, want to maintain global processes and global reporting in a single instance
- Have minor process differences among affiliates
To better understand Domain Separation, let’s look at what happened with a leading healthcare data centre hosting services company that was struggling with a lack of unified business processes across its affiliates. This was causing data redundancies, as well as scattering of data across multiple systems.
On top of that, these systems had no proper security controls. In addition, the affiliates were using various IT service management (ITSM) tools that were not integrated with each other, resulting in delayed approvals and request fulfillments. Costs and support needs increased, and there was a lack of ownership and accountability when it came to outages.
To address this dilemma, the company teamed with Trianz to implement Domain Separation using ServiceNow, to:
- Implement domain hierarchy with data access security controls
- Develop and implement a change and configuration management process based on ITIL best practices
- Configure workflows to define a cross-domain approval process
- Implement automations through orchestration
As a result, the company realised its vision of streamlining and delivering consistent processes across all affiliates by maintaining data separation between the different business entities with shared infrastructure services support. The transformation:
- Established business processes with global UI for better manageability and easy maintenance
- Enabled a transparent approval process and allowed users to track the progress of their own requests
- Increased the speed of onboarding of affiliates with prebuilt processes and core capabilities
- Decreased the license and support cost
- Strengthened internal controls with full audit capabilities
- Resulted in seamless and effective audit practices with minimal or zero non-compliances
- Improved data centre efficiencies through automation
What to consider
Before deciding on domain separation, companies should ask:
- Do customers have a moderate alignment of processes and general platform requirements?
- Do customers have a contractual agreement that requires data to be isolated?
- Do the instance owners have entire entities that operate as physically separate organisations that do not share data but do have a requirement for full reporting?
In addition, companies need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks. Domain separation will increase service providers’ employee productivity; speed up customer onboarding; drive efficient administration; and instate common processes across affiliates and domains. On the other hand, domain separation adds administration overhead. Also, it can be disabled, but it can’t be removed from an instance.
What are the alternatives?
If domain separation isn’t the right choice for your company, you could consider separate instances or a single instance without a domain.
The separate instances option provides flexibility with meeting requirements for customers without having an impact on others. You can build it to suit each customer or organisation; minimise the impact of customisation on others; have a clean separation of data; and release-schedule coordination. The downsides include cost, having to align instances, testing effort for upgrades, duplication of efforts, and required integrations.
A single instance without a domain separation could cost less and it may be enough to address simple scenarios. However, it would require extensive modifications to the baseline code—which would be skipped during upgrades—and broad testing. Also, you would have to address all secondary and supporting tables.
Taking the next step
If domain separation is the right fit for your situation, incorporating ServiceNow’s ITSM platform into your business will change the way many things are done for the better. These adjustments will help streamline both IT and business systems to provide the maximum return on investment for all IT expenses.
Unlocking the next chapter of the digital revolution
As the world retreated to a hybrid world in 2020, our reliance on technology took the spotlight. But it was the jazzy new social and video calling platforms that took the encore. Behind the scenes, our servers worked overtime, keeping us connected and maintaining the drumbeat of always-on newly digital services. Let’s take a moment to pay our respect to the unsung technology heroes of the pandemic – the often-forgotten IT infrastructure keeping us connected come what may. After all, as we look ahead to more resilient futures, they will be playing a central role.
Servers could be likened to our plumbing – vital to well-functioning homes but rarely top of mind so long as it is functioning. Never seen, rarely heard – our servers do all the graft with little praise. But it is essential to reflect on the incremental advances in GPU and CPU power, which have paved the way for new workloads that previously were not possible. Chatbots and native language processing that provide essential customer touchpoints for businesses across the retail and banking sectors rely on powerful servers. They also keep businesses competitive and customers happy in an always-on world.
Serving workplace transformation
But, as businesses grappled with pandemic disruptions, the focus was largely on adopting connected devices – and awe at the rapid increase in the datasphere. As they reined in their budgets and attempted to do more with less, one aspect was perhaps overlooked—those hard working servers.
When it came to building resilience into a newly remote workforce, the initial concern was focused on the device endpoints – keeping employees productive. Many companies did not initially consider whether they had the server infrastructure to enable the entire workforce to log in remotely at the same time. As a result, many experienced a plethora of teething problems: virtual office crashes, long waits to get on servers, and sluggish internet connectivity and application performance, often rendering the shiny new PC frustrating and useless.
Most businesses only had a few outward-facing servers that could authenticate remote workers – a vital gateway as the vector for cyber hacks and attacks increased exponentially. That’s not to mention the fact that many business applications simply weren’t designed to work with the latency required for people working from home. What businesses discovered at that moment was that their plumbing was out of date.
Business and IT leaders quickly realised that to stay ahead of the curve in the hybrid working world, a renewed focus on building agile, adaptable, and flexible IT infrastructures was critical. More importantly, it accelerated the inevitable digital transformation that would keep them competitive in a data-driven economy. It is now abundantly clear to businesses that they need IT infrastructure to meet the demands of diverse workloads – derive intelligent insights from data, deploy applications effectively, and enhance data management and security.
Ripe for a digital revolution
Unsurprisingly, IDC noted that there was an increase in purchases of server infrastructure to support changing workloads. However, it also forecasts this uptick will be sustainable and last beyond the pandemic. As the economy begins to reopen, business leaders are looking ahead. IT will continue to play a crucial role in 2021 and beyond – and we have already set the foundations for the digital revolution with next-generation servers.
As we enter the zettabyte era, new innovative technologies are coming on stream, with 5G turbocharging IoT and putting edge computing to work. Exciting new services improved day-to-day efficiencies, and the transformation of our digital society will be underpinned by resilient IT infrastructures. By embracing the technological innovations of our next-generation servers, businesses keep pace with the coming data deluge.
The next generation of server architecture promises more power with less heat, thanks to improved, directed airflow, and direct liquid cooling, resulting in reduced operational costs and environmental impact. As we rebuild post-pandemic, manufacturers and customers alike strive to achieve ever more challenging sustainability goals. With this in mind, a focus on environmentally responsible design is imperative for the servers of tomorrow - uniquely designed chassis for adaptive cooling and more efficient power consumption will be critical, improving energy efficiency generation over generation.
The most notable evolution is the configuration of these next-gen servers around more specific organisational needs. Unlike clunky and often unstable legacy infrastructure, the infrastructure of tomorrow will be sturdier and more modular. The next iteration is streamlined, and in this modular form, can be more easily tailored to business needs. This equates to essential cost savings as businesses only pay for what they use.
Resolving the problem of the future, today
Tomorrow's IT challenges will focus on response times and latency as Edge and 5G technologies go mainstream. As businesses develop new and innovative services that utilise supercharged connectivity and real-time analytics, staying on top of these challenges will give them a competitive edge. For example, in the world of retail, automation will power new virtual security guards and even the slightest delay in the data relay could result in financial loss.
Similarly, in the smart cities of tomorrow, the network must be responsive. With city-centre traffic lights controlled by an AI-powered camera that monitors pedestrians, delays in data transfers could cost the life of an elderly pedestrian who has fallen in the road. The stakes are far higher in a 5G-enabled world. As our reliance on technology deepens, the margins for error narrow, placing greater emphasis on the efficiency of those critical underpinning technologies.
Fully enabling the hybrid work model today is just a stepping-stone towards more fluid, tech-enabled lives. A work Zoom call from an automated vehicle on-route to an intelligent transport hub is a highly probable vision of our future. But it requires incredible amounts of compute and seamless data transfers to make it possible. These glossy snapshots need super servers to come to life, making that IT plumbing glisten with next-gen innovation essential. Without exemplary server architecture, we risk future tech advances and the human progression that it enables.