Cloud API integration strategy – an introduction

  • Written By WHISHWORKS
  • 05/04/2021

It is simple, with the growing market of SaaS applications and cloud computing, point-to-point integrations with custom code are no longer good enough to provide seamless connectivity between these applications. It is increasingly difficult and complex to manage, and it’s prone to failure at the slightest hint of any modifications.

The solution is to use an API-led approach to integration. Cloud-based APIs improve customer experience and lead to better product and service innovation when an organisation’s data is exposed to other applications in its ecosystem, which, in turn, allows it to quickly respond to changing customer needs and an evolving market.    

But here is the problem, many organisations take a reactive approach to their integration. In other words, they implement integrations between business-critical applications on an as-needed basis. This not only costs more money, but it’s not very efficient because developers, when using this approach, spend more time on building and maintaining APIs than on product innovation.

In contrast, developing a proactive API integration strategy lets teams know what needs to be done before they do it. And when they know what to do, they can stick to best practices and test the quality of the integration which ultimately influences its success. A perfect analogy is the baker who reads the recipe and buys his ingredients before he starts baking, compared to the baker who needs to run to the store every time he needs something.

In order to develop an effective cloud API integration strategy, there are several things that organisations should do to ensure the success of their systems’ integration. This post looks to introduce the four main steps involved.  

Cloud API integration graphic

Planning

As with most things in business, organisations need to plan their API integration in order to create a seamless integration between its disparate applications to allow siloed data from siloed systems to be available everywhere. Here, it’s crucial that organisations look at their technical and business needs in order to determine the fundamental requirements for the API.

The three critical steps of the pre-integration process are:

  • Knowing the use cases. Here organisations should define what the API will be used for. They should look at whether the API will be used to connect applications internally, or whether it will be used to connect a business application to an external, third-party service. This distinction between public, private, and partner APIs, ultimately, sets the stage for the development and building of the API.  
  • Defining user stories. Organisations should define how the API should work from a user’s perspective. In other words, if a user performs a certain action, what result or feedback do they expect.
  • Selecting the right integration endpoints. To ensure a seamless experience, organizations should plan and decide carefully which endpoints should be connected, considering their needs, requirements, and goals.

In broad terms this defines the goal of the integration and lays the foundation for the further steps in developing the strategy that will allow the organisation to be fully integrated with a free data flow between their applications.

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Execution

Execution starts with the development and building of the APIs and integrations. So, once the goals are known in accordance with the use cases, the user stories and the right endpoints, developers can code the APIs using common programming languages and tools that they use every day.

When it comes to the integration, developers and architects should pay special attention to authentication, discovery APIs, data mapping and transformation, and event management. This adds a level of complexity do the integration process.  

A far better way, though, is using an iPaaS cloud integration platform to ensure availability and streamline the process, while eliminating the complexity of operating hardware and managing cloud infrastructure.

For example, Mulesoft’s CloudHub, as part of its AnyPoint API integration platform, gives organisations a global fully managed, multi-tenanted, secure, with an uptime of 99.99%.

These platforms to a large extent eliminate the complexity mentioned above because most take care of the authentication, data mapping and transformation, and event management for the organisation.   

Collaboration

In today’s highly digitalised and distributed environments, the ability to seamlessly share information and collaborate is key. One of the quickest and most efficient ways of doing this is through the unlocking of APIs broad-scope abilities.

The unlocking of information and capabilities trapped in legacy systems allows organisations to become software driven while employees become digitally independent, have access to data and can self-serve and collaborate to go further, faster.

With cloud APIs organisations can also securely expose data to external companies broadening their insights and capabilities by leveraging a wider ecosystem of partners, SaaS providers etc.

Monitoring and Managing

For organisations to sustain their digital ecosystem after integration, they need to manage APIs. Although this can be done manually, the best approach to managing them is once again by using an iPaaS with API management features built into the platform.

Organisations should also consider implementing maintenance and monitoring standards to ensure that the integration works as its intended and keeps working in this way. This is simply because an integration that breaks or stops functioning can have detrimental effect on the business. 

A simple way to prevent this is by monitoring the integrations for issues and, when they happen, fixing them before they get out of control. And here the right iPaaS can help too. API monitoring is one of its key features, and, apart from spotting issues before they become bigger problems, they also allow organisations to track usage trends which can inform new API initiatives and API roadmaps for future integrations.   

Final Thoughts

APIs have the ability to totally revolutionise a business. For organisations that have implemented an API-led integration strategy, most have seen improvements across many crucial elements of their businesses. Some of the most important changes that organisations see are increased productivity, increased innovation, and a direct increase in revenue.

When it comes to API-led integrations, though, organisations should keep sight of their strategic long-term plans, and as they move away from building APIs as needed to a well-developed and planned strategy, they should keep scalability, reusability, maintenance and future proofing in mind.   

An iPaaS platform appears to be the solution. It serves as an all-in-one API platform that allows organisations to manage the whole API integration lifecycle, from planning and design through to implementing, testing, publishing, operating, and maintaining their APIs with greater success.  

In this way organisations can embrace digital transformation and the opportunities, efficiency, and increase in revenue it promises.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you develop a successful cloud-first API integration strategy, give us a call or email us at marketing@whishworks.com.

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