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Api-led connectivity and importance of reusable assets creation

Posted on: February 14, 2018

There is no doubt that the use of API’s (Application Programming Interface) is on the rise, with Gartner, Forbes and others putting API’s in the centre of digital transformation and talking about API economy on a large scale.

Organisations are increasingly relying on API’s for internal and external integrations, however many overlook the fact that API’s are not simply technical tools, but actually constitute digital assets of the company.

What is API-led connectivity?

An API isn’t a new technology as such, however the application of an API-led connectivity approach to software architecture and notions of reusability are innovative.

According to MuleSoft’s methodology – API-led connectivity is a methodical way to connect data to applications through reusable and purposeful APIs.

An API-led connectivity approach promotes the identification, publication and discovery of companies’ digital assets – API’s and microservices – to enable higher degrees of reuse. It implies that API’s become primary building blocks for your internal and external systems integration needs. API led connectivity moves beyond the idea of point-to-point and traditional ESB architecture – instead you build layers of API’s that are responsible for certain systems, processes and end consumer experiences.

API’s expose a company’s digital capabilities, such that they can be reused and recomposed in different and potentially unintended ways to create innovative new services and consumer experiences.

3 layers of API’s

API-led connectivity is realised by introducing layers of abstraction and control between the mission-critical legacy systems and the front-end exposed to developers, unlocking corporate data and assets.

For example, API’s exposed via MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform can be broadly categorised into one of three layers:

 

Experience API’s are designed to make your services and products available to customers via multiple interfaces, smart devices and channels, including third party applications and services. They are a crucial part of delivering a compelling user experience. Experience API’s tend to be updated frequently to ensure that customers can consume services they need via platforms that they prefer.

Process API’s define your business processes, operations and functions. The processes can be as simple as adding a customer to the CRM and updating ERP and loyalty system simultaneously; or more complex (e.g. add customer; take order; fulfil order; provide single view of client). The latter hide the complexity of the multiple systems and applications that lay behind each of these Process APIs for easier consumption.

System API’s unlock your legacy systems, backend and third party applications and expose their data and capabilities, acting as an interface to the core and business critical systems. System APIs are rigorously governed, they have clearly defined security contracts, and SLAs, are robust in execution and change infrequently.

 

The above table shows several examples of API’s that can be created on different levels for Mobile Banking and eCommerce applications. You may have noticed, that in this example both applications have a set of common systems in use and hence common API’s (marked with *).

If, for instance, both applications are developed for the same company that adopted an API-led connectivity approach – the IT team would save a lot of time and effort, since API’s developed for one application could be reused for another.

The underlying principle of API-led connectivity is to treat API’s as building blocks that can be reused and assembled in multiple ways to create new products and services, support evolving business needs and continuously improve operations.

 

How to manage your digital capabilities?

When it comes to digital asset creation the next logical step is digital asset management. Your API’s need to be properly maintained and be discoverable for others to reuse. Mulesoft’s Anypoint Platform, for instance, has inbuilt API life-cycle management and exchange modules that make it easy to develop, test, release, publish and discover API’s. The latest release of the Anypoint Platform “Crowd” simplifies that process even further.

Technology alone cannot be responsible for innovation. The whole IT operating model needs changing to make the most of technology and help organisations “take a leap” in efficiency and agility.

Centre for Enablement (C4E) – is a new IT operating model that enables an enterprise to build and consume reusable assets while leveraging best practices and knowledge; it encompases supporting necessary people and process transformation, beyond merely adopting a new technology platform.

 

Transfering to a new operating model requires commitment both from management and dev teams. It involves assigning levels of responsibility and roles to everyone involved, as well as adopting new delivery models, such as a Continuous Delivery framework. However, the outcome of this exercise outplays initial effort by far.

 

 

Final remarks

MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform is uniquely positioned to support API-led transformation – address internal integration needs, create tangible digital assets, accelerate new application development and connect with third-party businesses.

However, Ricston practice has proven that Digital transformation implies not only technological, but operational shift and independently of a platform and technologies you choose reusable asset creation must be on the agenda for any organisation that desires long term success.

As Elon Musk said:

 


Authors: Anastasiia Linnas and Kevin Jervis

Illustrations in this article contain icons made by Coucou, Smashicons and Pixel perfect from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY


Related articles:

Our approach to Continuous Delivery (video demo)

Centre for Enablement (C4E) – a new operating model (video)

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Ryan Delia
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