Over the years, application programming interfaces (API) have enabled communication between different solutions and systems. However, it is worth noting that companies are increasingly paying attention to these commonly overlooked technologies and opening up another function: through the development of technical assets, to realize the reuse of these assets within the enterprise or even outside the enterprise.
Reuse not only improves the return on investment of information technology, but also lays the foundation for API users to take creative ways to use existing data, transactions, and products. With the increasing momentum of API applications, companies have begun to explore new ways to expose, manage and control APIs.
As this trend will increase in the next few months, for this traditional technology that plays a key pillar in achieving digital goals, it is expected that further innovative methods will appear in its contract, pricing, service and even marketing management.
Looking back at the history of the industrial revolution, interoperability and modularity have always brought competitive advantages. The concept of interchangeable parts proposed by Eli Henry was replaced by the assembly line invented by Henry Ford, which ushered in the era of mass production.
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Sabre has revolutionized the aviation industry by regulating the booking and ticketing process, thereby promoting unprecedented mutual collaboration. The payment network simplifies the global banking business, among which SWIFT and FIX become the basis of financial transactions, which in turn promotes the rapid development of trade and commerce.
In the digital age, the same concept is reflected in the “platform”-the value of the solution lies not only in the ability to solve current business problems, but also in the ability to build a platform for future growth. In this regard, we might as well take a look at the core services of global digital giants, including Alibaba, Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Tencent and Baidu.
These companies extend the scope of services to the entire ecosystem including end users, third parties and other parties by providing platforms for customers, thereby gaining a dominant position in certain areas. These platforms are based on the principles of interoperability and modularity. Designed.
In the field of information technology, API is one of the key elements to support interoperability and design modularity. As an architecture technology, API has a long history and computer science. It can improve the way of exchanging information, calling business logic and executing transaction processing between systems and solutions. It has gradually become a strategic task.
The “Technology Trends” released in recent years pointed out that the number of API deployments is increasing and that it is playing an increasingly important role in the system architecture, innovation, modernization, and the booming “API economy”.
Moreover, this growth is still in rapid progress: as of the beginning of 2017, the number of available public APIs has exceeded 18,000, an increase of approximately 2,000 year-on-year. Looking at the world’s large enterprises, the number of private APIs may have reached millions. API can bring a variety of operational and strategic value to enterprises.
Using modern APIs to inject vitality into the legacy system can “encapsulate” the intellectual property and data contained in the system, allowing new developers to reuse this information. Similarly, building APIs on legacy systems can extract more value from information technology assets and use existing data to drive innovation.
In addition, combining APIs with new applications can make it easier to consume and reuse data in new web, mobile, and IoT experiences, not to mention exposing APIs to the outside to drive new business models and partner ecosystems.
API Logic Architecture
The basic API logic architecture provides a blueprint for implementing API strategies, designing and deploying APIs, and ultimately maximizing value (see the figure below). To avoid over-designing the API architecture, consider designing based on existing corporate functional areas (such as marketing, finance, or HR), and then map the API to the services that each area may provide.
If every company is a technology company, then there will be an intuitive idea that technology assets should be reused. The reuse of assets requires companies to have new capabilities, that is, to manage the exchange of “encapsulated” intellectual property rights.
These new capabilities can also support the flow of information and business operations between organizations, as well as manage the discovery, use, and maintenance of API assets. On the whole, the strategic intent of the API and potential support responses reflect the imperative of API applications-strategic deployment of APIs to promote the self-service release and use of services inside and outside the enterprise.
APIs improve the way we implement, interact and experience enterprise solutions
1. Hybrid information technology infrastructure
The hybrid infrastructure consists of a combination of on-premises data centers, private clouds, and/or public clouds. For most companies with local technology investments, the adoption of a hybrid architecture is a necessary condition for cloud technology applications. Especially for companies that have been running for several years, it is very rare to rely entirely on local or completely use cloud technology.
In the process of transforming traditional IT organizations to cloud technology, existing data centers still need continuous support. This balance of cost, flexibility, control, risk, and security has prompted many companies to adopt a hybrid information technology strategy. Enterprises will increasingly live in a hybrid world, with some applications in the public cloud and the other in the data center.
The environment in which enterprise systems and applications are deployed depends on strategic business requirements, tactical requirements, and goals. Today’s enterprises must have an integrated strategy that can seamlessly integrate any applications and systems deployed on local, public cloud, hybrid cloud infrastructure, or private cloud. API is the key enabler for integrating these infrastructure platforms.
2. Operational transformation
The emergence of APIs has prompted companies to transform from daily information technology operations to a way of interacting with customers. Enterprises are gradually realizing the effects of digital transformation. Since API can perform part of the management and maintenance affairs independently, the information technology department can invest talents in more innovative activities.
By embedding decision science and machine learning directly into business processes, business leaders can focus on managing business results instead of dealing with new technologies. Simplify customer engagement activities while providing instant and valuable data insights for their business. In the end, API can stimulate cultural changes in many enterprises by realizing the integration of multiple information technology systems, building a more collaborative and self-service IT environment, and deriving benefits from existing information technology assets.
3. Autonomous platform
The autonomous platform has scalability, self-monitoring, autonomous learning and self-repair functions, which can continuously meet the needs of automation. As more and more information technology can be expressed in code—from the underlying infrastructure to the tasks of the information technology department—companies now have the opportunity to apply new architectural patterns and principles.
Taking this opportunity, companies can eliminate the dependence between business results and basic solutions, and at the same time redistribute information technology talents engaged in repetitive low-value tasks to higher-level jobs.
Using autonomous APIs, it can provide a data warehouse in a few seconds to a few minutes, use intelligent data analysis to populate the data catalog, and automatically analyze important findings through visualization and narration.
With the increasing popularity of machine learning and crowdsourcing APIs, companies need to prioritize their integration into information technology. This unprecedented freedom and automation of the cloud will affect the daily lives of users.
4. Microservices and application integration
Large enterprises usually deploy thousands of applications to support business operations. More and more companies disassemble systems through the deployment of microservices and rebuild them into the incarnation of independent business rules.
The emergence of microservices and the success of the core revival program have spawned a completely different set of software design methods, the core components of which are no longer interdependent or integrated, but “loosely coupled”. Microservices disassemble larger applications into small, modular, independently deployable services, and communicate through APIs.
This approach creates a modern application architecture and further promotes the development of the API economy. API and microservice platforms provide a DevOps experience that truly meets the speed and scalability requirements by realizing automated continuous integration/delivery processes.
5. API-driven digital transformation
For companies in transition, speed is critical. In many cases, it is not enough to rely on individual digital assets of a company. It is necessary to use and combine the technical assets of other companies in interesting and novel ways. Therefore, various platforms have been born under the network effect of API.
API is promoting digital transformation across industries and markets. Companies are using APIs to expand their business functions through partners, customers, and other ecosystem channels. This is true for both B2B and B2C markets. Web-API is paving the way for expanding market coverage and acquiring new customers through multiple channels (mainly social and mobile applications).
Many cloud service providers are shifting their focus from traditional profit-making methods to demonstrating key capabilities of their digital business. Especially with the digitization of many products and services realized by big data platforms and the Internet of Things, the influence of APIs far exceeds the scope of technology companies.
Pioneer companies leading the API trend have found that sharing technology assets makes more profit than controlling technology assets. Fully accepting this trend requires companies to reconsider the development, integration, and governance methods that they have consistently adopted for a long time. Also, sticking to the old rules is no longer feasible. The transformation from an independent system to an API platform has kicked off, take the lead in sharing and benefit first.
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It is believed that technologies such as digitization, cloud, and analysis technology have been widely used in various industries in recent years. At the same time, more recent trends such as autonomous platforms, machine intelligence, and digital reality are continuing to develop rapidly.
When various technologies are unified and coordinated, companies can no longer simply develop vertically (focus on business lines or individual industries) or horizontally develop (focus on business processes or enabling technologies), but must collaborate as a “symphony orchestra”.
Finally, and in a collaborative enterprise, the boundaries of the past will become blurred, and new business opportunities and new innovative methods to solve problems will continue to emerge.