Integration is one of the oldest concepts in computing, having been around almost as early as the first pieces of software. In contrast, web-based APIs are a fairly new kid on the block. While they have been around since around 2000, APIs have not become a mainstay technology until approximately the last five to ten years.
And yet, in that short time, APIs have become indispensable. While businesses technically have many different integration options, they only have one right choice: to embrace integration through APIs.
Why Legacy Integration Tools Do Not Cut It
To facilitate integration, enterprises have a number of options at their disposal. What is it about APIs that make them so critical now?
Let's start from the beginning. Back in the day, if an organization needed to connect two computers or two pieces of software, they would manually code a point-to-point connection between them. This worked fine when computers were a relative luxury and when software was still in its infancy, but it is easy to see why such an approach would be doomed to failure now.
It can take hours to build out one such connection. Scale that out to the thousands of devices and apps in the enterprise today, and it would take decades under this old approach to connect everything. It's perfect for all those developer teams just waiting around for something to do.
In the past few decades, enterprise service buses (ESB) and middleware emerged as a frequently chosen solution to the integration conundrum. Essentially, they act as a common connectivity hub for all enterprise IT. Instead of bridging solutions individually to one another, organizations can just connect all endpoints to the service bus and then let it handle the integration. Problem solved!
API Integration in Action
Unlike legacy technologies, APIs are built with cloud computing in mind. The technology is just as adept at connecting cloud apps as it is at on-premise software integration. This flexibility makes it especially well-suited to the hybrid IT setups in place at most businesses today.
Another example of the benefits of API for integration today exists in most enterprise marketing departments. Most marketers have a whole suite of tools they use, including a CRM platform, an email marketing tool, an analytics solution, a social media outreach tool, and a whole lot more. Through APIs, the marketing team is able to create a stack. This enables the department to leverage all of the best point solutions in tandem across all teams.
And if today's IT environment is not already complex enough, then know it is only going to get worse over time. Consider two trends in particular: increased mobile connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Integration and APIs: Today's "It" Couple
APIs are critical to addressing the complex integration needs and concerns of the modern enterprise, so it makes sense that an integration platform that can also be used to create and manage APIs can help companies realize the value of all their technology investments-whether they are on-premise, Saas or in the cloud, on either side of the firewall.
With an API integration platform, enterprises don't need to rip and replace their legacy systems or integrations, but instead can connect all the useful data to make better business decisions and create competitive differentiation. And if an all-cloud infrastructure is eventually needed, an API integration platform is flexible and scalable enough to make that transition.
As Gartner notes in How Pervasive Integration Enables Your API Initiatives (and Vice Versa), "APIs and integration technology are intimately correlated. Integration technology reduces the time to value of the APIs and APIs facilitate certain aspects of integration. APIs and integration are just two sides of the same coin. API initiatives require integration technologies and API-enabling technologies are essential components in each strategic integration infrastructure."To learn more about how to make the most of API integration, download the free eBook, Unleash the Transformative Power of APIs and Integration.
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