{{announcement.body}}
{{announcement.title}}
refcard cover
Refcard #303

API Integration Practices and Patterns

From on-prem-to-cloud integrations to custom application-to-cloud integrations, the questions are the same: What is the integration experience you need to offer and who will own it? This Refcard explores common API integration use cases, as well as key patterns for authentication, polling, querying, and more. Learn about the fundamental practices you need to know when assessing your integration needs and approaching the design, build, and maintenance of your integrations.

Free PDF for Easy Reference
refcard cover

Written By

author avatar Brian Busch
Director, Product Marketing, Alliances, Cloud Elements
Section 1

Introduction

We all hear it so often that we almost stop hearing it: “Integration is critical to meeting users’ needs.”

Integration work consumes 50%-80% of the time and budget of digital transformation projects, or building a digital platform, while innovation gets only the leftovers, according to SAP and Salesforce. And as everyone from legacy enterprises to SaaS startups launches new digital products, they all hit a point at which the product cannot unlock more value for users or continue to grow without making integration a feature.

If I were to sum up the one question behind all of the other questions that I hear from customers, enterprises, partners, and developers, it would be something like: “Is integration a differentiator that we should own? Or an undifferentiated but necessary feature that supports what we’re trying to accomplish?”

This Refcard won’t try to answer that question for you. Rather, no matter what type of development work you do, API integration is a fact of life today, like gravity. Why? Today, experience is paramount. The average enterprise uses more than 1,500 cloud applications (with the number growing by 20% each year). Every app needs to integrate with other systems in a fluid and ever-changing application ecosystem. So instead, I’ll share some of the common practices you’re likely to contend with as well as some patterns to consider.


This is a preview of the API Integrations Practices and Patterns Refcard. To read the entire Refcard, please download the PDF from the link above.

Section 2

API Integration Practices

Gartner will tell you there are a dozen or more integration scenarios or needs, but when you squint at all of them, a bigger distinction stands out: internal integration — connecting your instance of systems or applications you control — vs. digital products, which offer integration as a feature or service in support of products’ value propositions.

Beyond that, the explosion of applications used today means there’s a ton of integrations to build, so think about the integration experience you need to offer or who will do the building. Will it be centralized (in IT) and/or productized (for self-serve use), or will it be user-driven (usually for ad hoc integration needs).

As they say, there’s a right tool for every job — in this case, an integration platform or iPaaS. Let's look at the pros and cons of some common integration use cases, which include:

  • Hyperscaler deployment and/or cloud data lake.
  • Ground-to-cloud integration for process improvement.
  • Cloud-to-cloud integration for digital products.
  • Custom application-to-cloud integration.

This is a preview of the API Integrations Practices and Patterns Refcard. To read the entire Refcard, please download the PDF from the link above.

Section 3

API Integration Patterns

Integration is more complex than it looks. It’s often said that connecting to an API is easy, but secure integrations that deliver seamless, effortless, and highly performant user experiences are hard. Why?

  • Every API is unique – Like snowflakes, researching and building integrations means peeling back layers of nuance, including SOAP vs. REST, XML vs. JSON, different auth mechanisms, workarounds for migrations when <5% of APIs offer bulk data operations, webhooks vs. polling for eventing, unique error codes, limited search and discovery mechanisms, etc.
  • Every data model is unique – This requires developers to solve complex data mapping and transformation problems for every integration.
  • Every workflow is different – From operations on the data itself to lookups and contingent logic, developers need the right tools to not only connect systems, but to also improve — and even automate — otherwise manual process steps.

With that in mind, we will explore some of the nuanced issues that developers encounter daily as they build and maintain integrations:

  • Authentication – basic credentials, API keys, and OAuth 2.0
  • Eventing – polling and webhooks
  • Querying – sorting and ordering
  • Pagination – offset, keyset, fixed data pages, and flexible data pages
  • Bulk – Bulk APIs

This is a preview of the API Integrations Practices and Patterns Refcard. To read the entire Refcard, please download the PDF from the link above.

Section 4

Additional Resources

*Books from the “Foundations of RESTful Architecture” Refcard:

  • Richardson, L., & Amundsen, M. (2015). RESTful web APIs. O’Reilly.
  • Allamaraju, S. (2010). RESTful web services cookbook. O’Reilly.
  • Masse, M. (2011). REST API design rulebook: Designing consistent RESTful web service interfaces. O’Reilly.
  • Biehl, M. (2016). RESTful API design. CreateSpace.
  • Webber, J., Parastatidis, S., & Robinson, I. (2010). REST in practice. O’Reilly.
  • Louvel, J. (2013). Restlet in action: Developing RESTful web APIs in Java. Manning.
  • Kalali, M., & Mehta, B. (2013). Developing RESTful services with JAX-RS 2.0, WebSockets, and JSON. Packt Publishing.

This is a preview of the API Integrations Practices and Patterns Refcard. To read the entire Refcard, please download the PDF from the link above.

{{ parent.title || parent.header.title}}

{{ parent.tldr }}

{{ parent.urlSource.name }}