So Many Acronyms
There are so many acronyms in the tech world it is almost impossible to keep up. The one that we’re going to discuss today is the RESTful API. What exactly does an API do? A RESTful API (from here on out I’ll just refer to it as API) acts as a link between your applications, analytics/reporting and your business’ data.
Almost every major business out there currently has some form of technical dependence. Whether it’s a simple online file sharing account or an all-encompassing enterprise solution, each company has some form of technical requirement. Another thing that all businesses share with each other is that every business creates data. However, data that is not being collected, accessed and/or analyzed is a massive loss of potential business intelligence and potential revenue.
Depending on your business needs, there are different options where a business can host their API services. Some businesses may opt to host their API’s on their own servers. However, if you need a managed solution, Amazon’s Web Services offers an API Gateway that plays well with their Lambda service. These are only two of many different hosting possibilities. Again, the solution that works for you is dependent on what your business requirements are, as well as budget.
There are many benefits for businesses to incorporate an API into their digital operations. The following are a brief list of benefits that an API could bring to a business:
- Unified Data Gateway: What does it mean to have a unified gateway? Well, by having an API developed for your business data, you now have a single point of reference for all of your applications and reporting systems to access your business’ data. This allows legacy products in your organization to be able to share data with newly developed applications much more easily.
- Quicker Application Development Lifecycle: The application development lifecycle becomes faster. The development time is reduced because the solution takes advantage of the API service that already exists. This rapid development will mean that your business can adjust and take advantage of emerging technologies.
- Security: API security means that your business will have complete control over who can access the data and what they can do. Because an API uses endpoints to return certain data, a business can secure them to be restricted to certain users, and then restrict even further what those users can do with that data. Also, by using industry standard authentication, your API can be secured against non-authenticated users or even malicious attacks. This applies to an API that requires an authentication layer. Not all APIs require this.
- Real-time Data Analytics: Businesses can benefit of real-time data analytics by incorporating their analytics services into the API. This allows for the monitoring of data in real-time and gives the business better insight for making operational/financial decisions.
Cost for Implementation
Is API development and implementation free? Nope. But, the investment that a business makes upfront into the development and implementation of an API service will be returned through the increased efficiency of data operations, quicker application development lifecycle and real-time data analytics.
If custom API development is outside of your business’ budget, then there are other options that can be considered. There are content management systems that do not include any form of administration interfaces, they are simply a link between your applications and your content.