Whatever your preconceptions are with buzz terms like digital transformation, and whatever stage you find your current IT strategy within the enterprise, whether it’s at the onset of planning a cloud migration project, or you’re busy maintaining a legacy environment coupled with a preponderance of cloud applications, or even if your business is debating where to go next, odds are you are using some form of APIs to integrate between applications, systems, and businesses.
APIs are everywhere. They are ubiquitous in life as well as in business. In fact, APIs are all around you, in use in enterprise IT, even though you may not be directly aware of them.
An API, or application programming interface, is a defined way to access data, resources, and processing routines in one application or system from another. APIs are a critical part of cloud and software as a service (SaaS) offerings, and will likely continue to grow in popularity for use in future technology environments.
But from API-augmented to API-led, APIs are increasingly front and center in many discussions around how they can best be leveraged in integration use cases. From applications and data, all the way to business ecosystems, APIs are quickly becoming a mainstay in most enterprise integration strategies.
In this blog, we will briefly touch on four key ways your business can start looking at APIs to facilitate integration.
# 1 – APIs for Configuration, Administration, and Monitoring of Products
When someone discusses “headless administration,” this type of API integration is what they are referring to. A “headless” environment is a computer that operates without a monitor, graphical user interface (GUI), or other devices, such as a keyboard or even a mouse.
This type of API allows you to do any type of administration with your cloud that you can do through an administrative GUI. You can run the system “headless” and manage it without having to go to a keyboard and literally touch things. All data management functionality is available today through REST APIs. There are limited capabilities to manage the translation or transformation through APIs, but part of the design of that is that the transformation is headless, so the studio and the runtime are separated. So, in many ways, while there are capabilities, there remain some gaps to fill in as well.
Rather than using the GUI to update your trading partners, AS2 connections, or to manage your certificates, you would use an API to accomplish those tasks. Instead, a clearer way to think about it is to treat the scenario as if it were an administering API that automates several key product tasks, including:
The next steps from here would be to complete the REST APIs for data movement and refine the “headless” strategy for data transformation.
#2 – APIs to Upload and Download Files
If you take a look at data movement capabilities, typically you will start with multiple secure communications protocols. These protocols are wide-ranging, used for file-based integration, and include FTP, SFTP, AS2, as well as is often the case, a secure portal for person-to-system file flows. If you want to upload a file, you can use REST APIs to accomplish that, as well as supportive APIs that can be set to programmatically upload and download the files to and from the integration platform. These types of APIs are relevant to how a company can operate within the traditional data movement and support versatile and flexible file-based integration scenarios in their environment.
#3 – Using Tools to Connect Other Systems Together Using Their APIs
The third example revolves around the APIs that are provided by other systems, versus those in-house. Some of the most popular examples of core enterprise systems include Salesforce with approximately 20 percent of the global CRM market, and NetSuite, a consistently dominant name in the ERP field, to name a few. In this case, Salesforce and NetSuite present those APIs allowing a company to consume them to do some sort of application-based cloud integration.
#4 – Using Cleo Tools to Provide APIs for use by Other Systems
The fourth and final example is actually the other side of the previous example, where an enterprise would use the system’s APIs. Here, the enterprise presents the APIs for others to access them. For instance, providing an API to order products. Someone at Salesforce wants someone to be able to access their environment, to be able to do operations using a program through their APIs. So how do they do it?
That’s performed by presenting an API to the world that others outside of the company can call and access. If someone wanted to provide an API to order a product or check their order statement, they could use integration technology to build that API and allow people to call in and try to understand what is happening with their order.
Presenting Vs. Consuming APIs
The important distinction to make between the third and fourth examples is that the third example is calling or consuming an API provided by someone else, while the fourth example is providing an API for other people to call.
Cleo Integration Cloud allows businesses to perform frictionless integration across applications, systems, and trading partners partly through the use of APIs. Because Cleo provides a comprehensive platform for integration of any kind, organizations can address a wide range of integration scenarios to connect and automate revenue-generating business processes.
Further, Cleo Integration Cloud provides flexibility to use both REST and SOAP APIs, allowing your business to consume both. Additionally, there are built-in transformation capabilities that can be used to transform the format that is typically used for both sorts of APIs, such as XML and JSON. What’s more is that Cleo also supports various B2B capabilities and formats, such as spreadsheets, databases, and XML files, so that you are not limited to API-only in your integration tool belt.
As the prominence of business-centric interactions grows, and ecosystem-driven integration develops into the future, APIs will only continue to augment the traditional file-based EDI. In this context, Cleo provides the foundation for business-to-business integration using APIs, furthering your capabilities solve all integration needs, and allowing for application integration in conjunction with B2B integration.