Emergence of APIs – Evolution or Revolution?

APIs have gone beyond being an integration technology connecting data and apps to software products in their own right. Instead, APIs have given birth to new digital business models and opportunities. What’s more, the adoption, design, and deployment of APIs are driven by business goals and not merely by IT middleware requirements as it was with SOA. 

There is a shift from service-oriented architectures to application programming interfaces. Here’s how:

SOA enabled IT to use technology to connect siloed internal systems. But IT soon realized that SOA-based infrastructure was not a practical approach to extend service consumption or developer ecosystems beyond the enterprise. While SOA is an important part of IT development, it needs skilled architects to get implemented. SOA has also become more prescriptive, governed by a centralized COE locking down the digital assets, making them less accessible to developers. The original goal of using SOA-based infrastructure was to produce reusable services; but, with a high bar for service design, it became a challenge to the sharing and reusing services. 

On the other hand, API-based architectures are designed for iterative and fast development, decentralized teams, and lightweight governance. Businesses adopting API-first find it easier to release APIs quickly through minimum viable products. They are protected by the digital circuit-breaker of APIs and use data analytics to generate iterations based on their use.  

APIs have reduced the backend complexity by using a consistent interface, making it easier for developers to work without relying on a deep understanding of the backend systems. 

This move makes it easy for developers of all expertise levels to leverage the available data and systems. Essentially, the move democratizes all access to the enterprise’s digital assets, making APIs a viable alternative to SOA. With mobile computing and remote working becoming the norm, the need to create an application that could deliver data and services to users is on the rise. 

A whole different set of security and workflow is critical to efficient mobile applications. These also require support through modern operational models that encourage newer types of mobile services.

Therefore, it is only natural that enterprises have made the shift to smaller and tighter teams that can leverage APIs and microservices parallelly. API-first is seen as the best approach to keep pace with rapid shifts in market dynamics and the evolving customer expectations. 

API-enabled digital transformation

As organizations are taking to digital transformation to remain serious contenders in the market, they are also expanding their support for diverse business models with new product lines and complex partnerships. 

Digital transformation is becoming synonymous with customer-centric business models. This means that you now have an array of interaction types and transaction methods irrespective of where customers are located. And APIs are integral to building new software ecosystems, delivering new customer experiences, and transitioning to a cloud environment.

APIs offer secure sharing of digital assets even as the backend complexity is masked. Moreover, businesses can use proprietary strengths by sharing information and functionality with developers and customers alike. This is also how companies can use extensive ecosystem participation to enter new markets and use cases.

Future of APIs

API Integration services continue to evolve, and their value increases as they are integral to delivering securely connected experiences, promoting new business models, and streamlining partner relationships. And they will continue to come under the umbrella of integrated technology. However, it is good to remember that APIs must not be confused with centralized middleware architecture because that is not enough to build a modern, connected enterprise. 

Furthermore, predictions on the state of future APIs include:

  • Enhanced API experience on mobile devices by incorporating APIs on mobile applications reduces the time to market.
  • Event-driven APIs offer new business models as providers serve API consumers. It shifts the business logic execution at the consumer’s end to the API provider. And, AI and analytics empower event-driven APIs to address different applications and services. 
  • Standardization of APIs will be possible through a defined API specification with a programming logic agnostic. It encourages the development of a standardized format for tools and documentation.
  • With the changing landscape due to the increase in microservices, they are likely to contribute to the adoption of APIs. 
  • APIs will be the information highways as break silos to share information across business units seamlessly. This type of data syndication supports big data analytics and cross-functional enterprise-wide processes. 

Clearly, APIs have more value than essential components connecting applications and data across more heterogeneous architectures. Adopting public cloud technologies, and shifting to applications with cloud-native technologies, is on the rise. And, APIs are in the best position to enable efficient management of on-premises applications and move workloads to the cloud environment.

People also read: How APIs are influencing the adoption of digital transformation

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