The world of enterprise technology is abuzz with all things pertaining to cloud support services, as well as what it takes to work virtually. The field of software development in Sri Lanka, for example, has long since been at the top of what’s happening in the technology industry – and for good reason, no doubt. Whether it’s for servicing international clientele, or delivering solutions that are on par with the latest advancements, so many intricacies are at play at any given point of time.
This implies the importance of how connected we need to be today. With the vast global population now connected even with the average smartphone on a round-the-clock basis, there’s a lot at stake for businesses in order to attract and retain customers. There’s no need to look elsewhere, either; leading consumer-centric digital presences offer everything under a single roof, thereby facilitating end-to-end customer journeys. In order to make this possible, powerful coordination on the frontend is essential. However, frontend connectivity is possible only through stringent backend connectivity – a fact that is outlined by software development lifecycles that are constantly iterating what is being run.
This is still just a minute part of the whole picture, though. But all in all, it suffices to say that high-performance technology solutions are absolutely indispensable for businesses that want to deliver in high quantities – but without ever compromising in quality. Take Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), for instance. Consolidating everything from basic VoIP to multiple communication channels, UCaaS ensures that you don’t need to toggle from one platform to another to see a holistic view of business operations on a real-time basis.
Likewise, seamless consolidation of such calibre is proliferating across many sub-sects of enterprise technology, and APIs are one such niche. On its own, APIs have been the crucial components which have made applications ‘talk’ to one another, no matter how different they may be. However, even APIs are being streamlined into a singular platform, in the interest of easy management and collaboration. Before we get to the nitty-gritty of API integration platforms, let’s start by covering some of the basics
Simply putting it, an Application Programming Interface (API) is a program that allows a piece of software to communicate with another. By connecting via a network, each application transmits requests, in order to get responses from its counterpart. The vast majority of APIs in use today are called REST APIs, and these function with four components (remote server, requests, responses and the actual application) to enable seamless connectivity between cloud-based applications.
APIs have come a long way from the time when they were only used to diversify proprietary business systems. They also facilitate microservice-based applications, which have now become a highly popular system for developing modern-day apps and services.
With even the simplest of applications now interconnected with other external services for enabling smooth functionality and performance, APIs are that essential building block for any type of application out there.
Since the functions of both APIs and integrations overlap, it’s not hard to conflate meanings between the two. However, there are some features that clearly distinguish APIs from integrations, and vice versa. Among many, the area where each is used is a clear differentiator; while basic integration can enable connectivity within two different systems, APIs go beyond that by offering code-level insight to developers. As a result, this exposure on a code level can be used to create or customize interfaces for great collaborative power.
On the other hand, an application that has been connected via basic integration is reliant on its counterpart for functioning smoothly. This isn’t the case for APIs, as changes in either one of the applications can render subsequent changes in the others for maintaining optimum performance levels.
As its name suggests, an API integration platform is a unified solution for managing multiple APIs. With the average application being dependent on tens if not hundreds of APIs for facilitating a unique and customized solution, managing individual APIs is a painstaking and time-consuming task. By consolidating multiple APIs under one roof, developers now have all the autonomy to access code-level insights for greater customization, while also limiting access based on different users and their roles within an organizational structure.
APIs, and API integration platforms in particular, stand out from basic integration since it can self-update in the wake of any changes pertaining to applications and their data. Expecting standard point-to-point integration to even notify of any changes at the very least, is still a hit or miss. As API integration platforms enable automated workflows, interfaces can be created at scale to add more applications without any margin for error.
Leading API integration platforms have also led rise to developing high-performance applications within a shorter span of time, thanks to ease of use. On top of that, today’s API integration platforms can also connect on-site components with cloud-based services. This can eliminate both legacy systems as well as outdated data, since existing information can be put to good use for the purpose of real-time and highly bespoke analytics.
If you’re a business that still operates on-site components but has been gradually shifting to the cloud through a strategic partnership with a cloud service provider (such as an AWS partner), then an API integration platform won’t just help your developer team scale external applications as needed, but will also ensure that cloud resources are moderated for optimal use.
Connect any cloud-based applications.
This is the most direct and obvious advantage of having an API integration platform, by far. With thousands of applications out there, your business may have the need to connect multiple services for building a precise working system. Multiple segments may need to be configured on a departmental level itself, which then needs to connect over to hundreds (if not thousands) of other applications within the organization.
On the other hand, your on-site systems can also be connected with an API integration platform, thereby leaving no space for gaps within your organization. Many API integration providers offer ease of use with approaches that are as simple as a drag-n-drop, which requires no coding knowledge too, as a result. This is also the reason why API integration platforms are immensely helpful for building powerful apps in record time, therefore creating an overall shorter development lifecycle and a faster time to market.
Although cloud networks have long since turned into a popular must-have for businesses of all shapes and sizes, there’s no disputing the special advantages which on-site systems have. Hybridizing your network with a combination of cloud and on-site systems offers both proprietary value as well as enhanced security. Indirectly, an API integration platform further serves such benefits, as companies can now maintain the best of both networks without ever having to compromise on the quality of their working business systems.
No old and abandoned data.
When conventional integration connects two applications to one another, a change in one is going to render the other either out-of-date, or plain unusable. This is because point-to-point integration makes one application reliant on the other. On the other hand, notifications for when things change isn’t certain. If hundreds of applications are connected this way, it will require constant monitoring at the hands of a full-time resource or two to ensure that all working parts are functioning – and to manually escalate glitches lest they arise.
With an API integration platform, automated workflows alleviate the need to manually monitor every single application. As one application undergoes a change, subsequent changes are reflected in the others too. This is especially important for data, due to two main reasons. Firstly, application pipelines won’t get clogged in the wake of a crash. Secondly, data that is otherwise being gathered on one end won’t be rendered invalid due to the passage of time, simply due to its inability to pass through.
As a result, API integration platforms can massively help in the task of consolidating streams of data from multiple sources. Articulate data from numerous viewpoints and view it all at a glance on a dashboard – irrespective of how many applications all this data flows from.
Decide who gets access to what, when and how.
Role-based access control is a common feature among most enterprise technology suites, with security solutions paying extra emphasis to the very same. The same goes for APIs as well. Through a dedicated integration platform, access levels to hundreds of applications can be controlled via a single dashboard, thereby enhancing security throughout. This also includes stakeholders both internal and external, such as employees and customers alike.
Automated workflows once again become very advantageous here, by going beyond simply tracking the health of all your applications. Resources that applications use can be controlled on a granular level, so that your business can stay on par with any constraints that would have been set in place to control costs and timeframes. Therefore, access control is viable both in terms of authorization (for security purposes) and even for applications per se (to maintain budgets and timing) for all-round application management.
Create new APIs from existing ones with greater ease and better speed.
Without an API integration platform, the only option that your development team has is to either code an API from the ground up, or to use a third-party API. The former is time-consuming, as well as demanding in terms of resources (since you need to hire a dedicated team of developers to do so if you don’t have one already) and will still cost a reasonable amount of money. The latter isn’t always reliable, since it may not be compatible with every single application out there. As a result, chances are that the API of an application that you are interested to connect may not be supported by your software at hand.
In this case, an API integration platform is capable of either creating custom interfaces from scratch, or even building on top of existing systems. This gives organizations true autonomy as the eventual selection of a suitable software product isn’t dependent on whether or not the solution will work with existing systems. Instead, companies have the power to choose something new based on whether it will be viable for business objectives. Ultimately, offering true freedom to operate in a manner that’s most productive is what matters, when choosing the right technology – and API integration platforms help facilitate just that.
In today’s vastly interconnected world, digital apps lead the way towards a lifestyle that is as independent as it is fast-paced. However, this high level of seamless connectivity isn’t possible without a number of key attributes – and APIs are one of them. From booking a flight to analysing data stored within external sources, APIs have been bridging the gap from application to application. This has not only leveraged cross-functionality between otherwise siloed applications, but has also improved overall productivity among organizations.
APIs, being the dynamic connectors that they are, have also led rise to unprecedented customization. Businesses have long since stopped worrying about the aspect of fitting into cookie-cutter technology solutions, since APIs enable bespoke solutions with multiple vendors – and a truly autonomous working space that isn’t inhibited by commitment to one vendor alone. Unlike the APIs of yesterday (such as SOAP) or even standard point-to-point integration, modern REST APIs connect numerous cloud-based services together.
API integration platforms take all these capabilities to the next level, since automated workflows, role-based access controls and developer portals offer more liberty for creating custom interfaces and churning data. With even the simplest application being dependent on third-party software services, monolithic platforms are rare in this context. As tens if not hundreds of external applications come into play to connect teams and even entire organizations, an API integration platform can help your business manage smooth operations in the short-term – and maintain scalability, in the long-term.