Today’s customers and employees expect a real-time, personalized and connected user experience on any platform. As enterprise applications grow and evolve to address these needs, integration between applications has become increasingly important. Building point-to-point integrations manually is time consuming, inefficient and costly; andorganizations need a better way to consume and share data, as well as a more flexible and agile way to add new features and solutions. This is where application programming interfaces (APIs) can help. API-led connectivity, also known as API-led integration or API connectivity, addresses these requirements to helps organizations break down data silos, improve collaboration, respond to change quickly and increase innovation.
An API is a set of defined rules that enables different applications to communicate with each other. APIs provide a modern, efficient way to allow others to access and consume an organization’s data and services—enabling companies to open their application data and functionality throughout their ecosystem, including external third-party developers, business partners and internal departments within their companies.
APIs are light, modular building blocks that can be reused and packaged together in multiple applications to provide consistency and scalability and can likewise be secured and controlled. It’s therefore no surprise that API adoption has skyrocketed in recent years. An estimated 75 percent (Source: IDC FutureScape: Top 10 Worldwide Future of Connectedness Predictions, November 2022) of all enterprises will be using APIs by next year, both internally and externally, in multiple industries and in a wide variety of use cases.
While APIs are changing a how business is done, they can become unwieldy. A typical organization has 15,564 APIs in use today (Source: 451 Research, sponsored by Noname). When changes occur— such as a new data source added or a change to an existing data source, it can be impossible for IT staff to keep up coding APIs by hand.
API-led connectivity is a modern methodology to integrate applications and data through reusable APIs. It replaces the complex point-to-point integration style to enable a more flexible, scalable and agile architecture. Using APIs—which can be managed, secured, published and monetized using API management software— as reusable assets enables faster, more efficient and more scalable integration.
Benefits of API-led connectivity
An API-led connectivity approach helps organizations in the following ways:
- Reduce integration complexity and cost: With API-led connectivity, organizations can create an API once and reuse many times in different contexts to serve multiple business needs across the enterprise, reducing costs & increasing productivity.
- Improve accuracy: Fewer APIs mean lower risk of errors.
- Provide consistent customer experiences: The same APIs are powering back-end source systems and front-end customer experiences, helping you to provide consistent customer experiences
- Gain better visibility and control: When applications are integrated via APIs, they are easier to manage and secure.
- Adapt faster to changing business requirements & technological advancements: As changes inevitably occur, they can be managed at scale without requiring excessive one-off work.
- Accelerate your application development initiatives: APIs encourage composability. With effective reuse, one API built by a single developer may power hundreds of integrations and applications in your organization.
API-led connectivity components
API-led connectivity is made up of two complementary technologies: application integration and API management.
API management software allows you to govern, manage, secure and monetize APIs. Application integration, as the name implies, is responsible for implementing and integrating them regardless of format. Application integration also allows users to create and author APIs, while API management provides methods to control them.
Application Integration software accelerates API reuse
Application integration platforms that support APIs provide an opportunity to change the way IT teams operate— enabling business technologists and less experienced developers to compose apps and integrations, as well as allowing IT staff to focus on more strategic priorities such as more complex, revenue-generating activities and governance.
API-led connectivity from IBM
IBM® uses a modular but integrated approach to API-led connectivity, allowing organizations to only purchase what they need. IBM API Connect® is an API management solution that supports the entire API lifecycle and enables providers to create and manage APIs. They can secure APIs using out-of-the-box security and governance policies. Likewise, they can share APIs within and outside the organization using the the App Connect Developer portal and promote reuse. They can also discover existing APIs through the Developer Portal in a self-service manner and reuse existing APIs for other projects.
IBM App Connect is a user-friendly application platform on which to build and reuse APIs. With a low-code interface suitable for business users, it helps streamline application integration and increase API reusability. It is available as a SaaS offering or on-premises. With IBM App Connect, business users and integration specialists can discover existing APIs through the App Connect catalog. They can reuse existing APIs in App/Data Integration projects and they can create new APIs from model-driven integration flows.
Both are key components of the IBM iPaaS solution. Tight integration between App Connect and API Connect allows organizations to collaborate and innovate. An API built with API Connect can be discovered and imported into the App Connect connector catalog and an App Connect user can author a flow for an API and then secure it and apply gateway policies, all within the same user experience. Test out how they work together with the App Connect 30-day trial and the API Connect 30-day trial.