Every cloud has an API lining
In the age of digital disruption, cloud integration enables business agility—and API Management is a gateway to the cloud.
“Cloud” and “API” have been two of the most often repeated IT buzzwords of recent years—so much so that you might be forgiven for becoming desensitized to them. But any organization executing a digital transformation initiative will inevitably end up using or even creating cloud-based services—essentially, IT resources running on remote servers, rather than on the user’s own computer or local network.
Furthermore, the fact is that, if you look closely enough at just about any digital project, you’re going to find an API—that’s certainly the case with cloud-based projects. And as organizations find it increasingly important to build APIs in order to connect the enterprise with cloud applications and infrastructure providers, API Management technology will present itself as a key enabler of success.
I recently wrote a blog post that suggested the post-holiday lull was an ideal time for retail organizations to concentrate on developing digital strategies that will make them more competitive during the next holiday season. API-enabled cloud bursting is one strategy that could benefit many of these organizations—and it also happens to perfectly illustrate the power of a properly-managed, API-based cloud integration.
For digitally-focused retail businesses, providing exceptional online customer experiences is paramount. This takes on many forms but the cornerstone is making sure the ecommerce interface performs consistently and reliably—which can be a challenge on Black Friday and other times when Web traffic might spike alarmingly quickly. Traffic spikes can cause on-premises Web servers to become overwhelmed, leading to lost sales and irritated customers.
Clearly, having enough server space to handle these spikes on a year-round basis is a huge, costly waste of resources. The only truly practical solution to this scaling challenge is to integrate with an IaaS provider, so that extra traffic can be routed into cloud-based infrastructure, as and when needed. APIs are essential in this scenario, to enable integration between the enterprise backend and the public cloud.
For this to work, API Management must be in place to ensure the enterprise/cloud link is secure, monitor performance and execute vital tasks like dynamic routing and load balancing. Without API Management, the integration points would offer a target for hackers who wanted to take down the site or steal customer details. Furthermore, the ability of the integration to burst traffic spikes into the cloud would be significantly reduced.
This is far from being an isolated case. There are any number of examples that follow the same pattern: to successfully execute a digital strategy an enterprise has to adopt or deliver cloud-based services, APIs enable integration of these services with the enterprise backend and API Management enables the APIs. These use cases relate not only to integration with IaaS providers but also to enterprise use of SaaS applications.
APIs have been central to SaaS from the get-go—Salesforce is, in many ways, the inventor of the API as we know it today. APIs provide a vital link between backend systems and applications running in the cloud. They also play an essential part in integrating SaaS into on-premises desktop environments and access management systems. And API Management has a key role in securing the connections and ensuring all the diverse systems are communicating effectively.
So, cloud and API are not empty buzzwords. Today’s digital businesses need the cloud to provide the kind of “always-on” services today’s customers demand—and they need APIs to utilize the cloud. But at the same time, these are not magic bullets. Enterprises that plan to create API-based integrations to enable cloud-based business models need the right infrastructure in place to ensure the rewards outweigh the risks.