Enterprise architect's guide to API best practices and trends
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Where does SOA and the cloud fit in with API development and management?
Application program interfaces (APIs) are becoming more and more important as the application landscape of companies becomes more diverse and computer platforms become move diverse. There is more data and work getting done in our systems, and companies are looking for ways to speed API development, features, software as a service (SaaS) and functionality. APIs play a key role in supplying an easy-to-adopt and easy-to-integrate solution to an application or workflow and to add value to it. Right now, the way the industry is moving and IT ecosystems are evolving, APIs are playing a much bigger role than they have in the past, and they are adding to things like flexibility and agility. That is something that is very important to companies and IT as well.
Service-oriented architecture is open to using API-type services. It's sort of the yin and the yang; if you want to use APIs, you want to have an architecture that is open to doing that. Service-oriented architectures are a good way of exploiting what that can look like. This openness, this ability to integrate APIs or other services into your workflow or application, is what's key.
I think the driver toward cloud-based API development and cloud-based management systems isn't too dissimilar to the overall driver we see for the cloud from an IT and business perspective. Cloud solutions tend to be easier to adopt or faster to stand up. In the case of many API management platforms, they are basically an SaaS or platform as a service depending on their configuration, which makes it easy for both sides to leverage that platform.
Developers have to have an open attitude toward what APIs can do for them.
I think cloud plays a role in speaking to value and it also, of course, plays a role because you don't need to go out and create your own means of distributing this -- you don't have to use traditional tools that weren't quite as dynamic. Of course, overall, the cloud tends to have that cost-savings additive to it as well that gets the attention of companies, too.
Developers have to have an open attitude toward what APIs can do for them. Developers are like shops, and they tend to like to make everything from scratch, which is not always the best way to go from a business standpoint. Implementing or integrating an API into your application or business workflow can save you an immense amount of time and give you value or functionality that you couldn't have or one that would be impractical for you to build on your own.
The other side is testing a proof of concept, which is fairly standard, but equally as important around the challenges that come with utilizing APIs. You have to make sure the API has the functionality and ability to do what aligns with your business goals.
I've seen developers settle on an API that doesn’t give them everything they need or want, and in the end, they have a hard time growing with that relationship. An open attitude, patience, testing and proof of concept, are all standard checklist for utilizing and leveraging these types of solutions.
Editor's note: This expert advice is taken from an interview by SearchSOA associate site editor Maxine Giza.
About the author:
Shawn Rogers has more than 20 years of IT experience, with a focus on Internet-enabled technology. He currently works as the vice president of Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo.
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