Just like the Internet had a major impact on software development, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are transforming the way business software is being used. It may be seen as a technical concept, but APIs are rising in strategic significance to the business. Making certain functionality available via APIs changes the way that software and information can be delivered.
What Are APIs?
APIs are groups of code that make it possible for digital devices, software applications, and data servers to talk with each other by taking a specific input and producing a specific output. APIs are the essential backbone of so many services we now rely on. They are usually made available as a software development kit or as an open API document published on the Internet. Some companies create their own internal APIs, while others make some of their APIs publicly available.
According to Programmableweb.com, the number of APIs in use was over 46 million collections in January 2021. As an indication of how APIs change the way software is used, Salesforce reported that more than 60% of transactions on its platform are now executed by non-Salesforce applications using the Salesforce.com APIs, instead of using the Salesforce.com browser user interface.
In a survey of developers, over 60% reported using more APIs in 2020 compared to 2019. The financial services industry had the highest increase in API usage, at 68%.
Business Benefits of APIs
The API economy is a term used to describe the way APIs can benefit an organization’s bottom line. There are business benefits to exposing APIs as business building blocks for third party applications and services. APIs are the way that modern software is securely integrating cloud and on-premise systems to share data and information, authenticate information, enable transactions, access algorithms, and create new products, services and business models.
There are several benefits to employing APIs in modern software development, apart from integrating on-premises software to the cloud. Smaller, function-based software components built around APIs are easier to maintain (often referred to as a Micro-Services architecture), with developers or teams assuming responsibility for a specific component and letting them tap domain-specific expertise. This makes it easier to maintain, upgrade, and scale a software application.
APIs enable developers to build products and services more quickly and easily and focus on business issues rather than getting overwhelmed by technical ones. Using APIs allows businesses to unify data across multiple communication platforms, and in so doing, bring products and features to market faster, without having to commit large amounts of time and resources.
Competitiveness in the 21st century is driven by getting the right data, to the right person at the right time. By using APIs, a company can make its ability to integrate applications and data a competitive advantage.
How APIs Are Transforming Coding
By having access to APIs, programmers can deliver new applications using existing resources that could not be done before. They can also create integrations to enable applications to share data more quickly and easily.
But APIs also need to be managed, from inception to use and revision, and to retirement. So businesses need to have the processes and tools to manage APIs through their lifecycle. Gartner recommends that API governance is given serious attention
- Inventory and document all published APIs
- Use available tools to protect APIs
- Make security a part of the API development lifecycle, including policies to eliminate the most common API problems
- Control how APIs are accessed within the business, not just at the edge
How a Hybrid Integration Platform Improves API Management
To ensure proper management and oversight over the way APIs integrate applications and share data, a Hybrid Integration Platform (HIP) can provide a development environment that provides a centralized place to create, maintain and manage APIs and their performance.
Instead of the traditional hub-and-spoke model, a cloud-based integration platform allows integration processes to be distributed, close to where the integrations are required. At the same time, development and administrative functions are centralized on the platform, providing the ability to develop, deploy, manage and monitor all the APIs wherever they occur.
How Synatic Helps with API Management
Synatic's HIP makes it simple and quick to create and manage APIs using its low-code approach to integration. A common use case is for an API call to trigger off a Flow that extracts data, manipulates and reformats it, and posts the data to another data source. Synatic is also able to integrate APIs with bespoke solutions that clients have built in-house. To document APIs, Synatic creates a Swagger document that describes the API and makes the documentation shareable between integration personnel. This promotes integration standards and avoids duplication of work.
Synatic has several types of security schema and authentication. There are the simple ones such as an individual userID and password, but authentication can also be given to user groups to help with team development. IP whitelisting ensures that only approved IP addresses can call an API. Synatic also supports JSON Web Tokens which offer a good way of securely transmitting information between applications.
The Future of APIs
APIs enable companies to more easily integrate applications, and create new products and services that would otherwise take too long to build. They are helping businesses to streamline how they integrate applications internally and with partners, and deliver composite data sources that empower people - staff and customers - to make the most of their data.
As the number of endpoints in the cloud and on mobile devices increases, the expansion of APIs will continue. This will add to the complexity of managing APIs, so a Hybrid Integration Platform that simplifies and centralizes API development and control will become even more necessary.