A Guide to APIs and Data Warehouses  | Dreamfactory

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Computer screen with a guide to APIs and data warehouses

Enterprise data is a valuable asset in today's digital economy. As a result, companies are always looking to utilize data services to get more out of their valuable data. Two ways that companies can achieve this is through using APIs and data warehouses.

Did you know that the global data warehousing market size is projected to reach over $51 billion by 2028 or that the worldwide API management market size is expected to reach over $13 billion by 2027? These numbers show that companies around the world already know the value of investing in API and data warehouse technology, and soon you will too. 

This article will serve as a professional guide to APIs and data warehouses, highlighting the various benefits that each can provide to a business operation. Read on to learn more about APIs, data warehouses, and their benefits!

What Is a Data Warehouse?

data warehouse is a system that aggregates data from multiple data sources into a single and consistent data store. When data warehouses are utilized, data scientists and data engineers can provide businesses with key insights through BI tools like data mining, data visualization, data analysis, machine learning, and artificial intelligence or AI.

Essentially, a data warehouse enables a business to run analytics on huge volumes of raw data and data sets, both current and historical. In addition, data warehouses can provide businesses with key insights into their big data that standard databases, data lakes, and data storage systems simply can't provide. Some of the most popular types of data warehouses are the cloud data warehouse, on-premises or license data warehouse software, and the data warehouse appliance, which is a pre-integrated bundle of hardware and software.

What Does the Architecture of a Data Warehouse Look Like? 

The majority of data warehouses that business operations use to store data and obtain key data insights are based on a three-tier architecture: a bottom tier, middle tier, and top tier. Through this data model, data flows from the bottom to the top tier.

  • Bottom tier: This is where the data warehouse server resides. It is also where data is collected, cleaned, and transformed through ETL, ensuring that it's ready to use for analysis later on. 
  • Middle tier: This is generally where an OLAP server resides. The OLAP server enables fast query speeds. 
  • Top tier: This is where end users are able to conduct ad-hoc data analysis on their business data. 

What Are the Primary Schemas Used In Data Warehouses? 

A schema refers to the way in which data is organized within a data warehouse. There are two primary data schemas: the star schema and the snowflake schema. 

  • Star schema: The star schema is the most common schema used to organize data in a data warehouse. Star schemas consist of one fact table that can be joined to multiple denormalized dimension tables. Generally, star schemas allow for faster-querying speeds.  
  • Snowflake schema: The snowflake schema is not widely used. In this schema, the fact table is connected to multiple normalized dimension tables that all have child tables. The querying speeds are generally slow with snowflake schemas, but the data redundancy is low. 

What Benefits Do Data Warehouses Provide to Business Operations?

As mentioned above, data warehouses allow business operations to run powerful analytics on their current and historical data. Of course, this enhances the organization's business intelligence. Along with the BI and data analytics that data warehouses foster, there are many additional benefits that data warehouses can provide to business operations. Some of the top benefits that business operations can reap by utilizing data warehouses include: 

  • High-quality data: Data warehouses provide business operations with better overall data quality. 
  • More data-driven decisions: Data warehouses support BI tools like data mining, AI, and machine learning, which allow businesses to make more data-driven decisions for their operations. 
  • Optimize decision-making: Data warehouses enable operations to make faster and more optimized decisions through better business insights.

What Is an API?

Like data warehouses, APIs can provide many benefits to business operations. An API, or application programming interface, simply works as a "middleman" between applications or software. APIs allow multiple apps to send information back and forth through API calls or API requests, all without having to directly communicate with one another. Overall, there are many use cases for APIs in business operations. Two of the most common types of APIs are the REST API and the SOAP API.

How Do APIs Work? 

APIs are pretty straightforward. A good analogy to help understand how APIs work is to equate an API to a language translator. Just as a language translator can help an English speaker and a Dutch speaker communicate, an API can help two or more applications share information without having to speak the same language or directly communicate. 

In addition, the API process can be broken down into four key steps. 

  • Step 1: During the first step, an application initiates an API request with the goal of retrieving specified information. 
  • Step 2: During the second step, the API processes the initial request and then sends it to an external program or web server. 
  • Step 3: During the third step, the web server or external program sends a response to the API with the information that was requested by the initial application. 
  • Step 4: During the fourth step, the API validates the received information from the web server or external program and transfers it to the initial requesting application in a format that it can understand. 

How Are APIs Created? 

When it comes to API creation, there are essentially two ways that an API can be deployed. The first is through manual API development, and the second is through API generation. 

Manual Development 

Through manual API development, a software developer with front-end and back-end web development skills builds an API from scratch. Manual API development can take weeks to months to finish, as developers have to take into consideration API design, API function, API endpoints, API testing, API documentation, and more during the development process. 

API Generation 

In comparison to manual development, API generation is enabled through low-code or no-code solutions. Essentially, API generation allows both developers and non-developers to successfully build APIs through a pre-built framework with drag-and-drop features. As a result, no-code APIs can be created and deployed by any business user in less than an hour. 

What Are the Benefits of API Generation for Business Operations? 

When looking to implement APIs into a business operation, API generation is the clear winner, as it allows anyone to develop APIs quickly with little to no coding skills in near real-time. With APIs providing many benefits to organizations, it's essential that they can be created and deployed quickly. Some of the top benefits that APIs provide to business operations include: 

  • Enhanced security: APIs help keep a company's data safe and secure, as they add an extra layer of security when data is transferred between programs and applications. 
  • Increased profits: APIs can be used to generate new monetization streams, as public APIs are often used to create tiered services or SaaS, which users have to purchase to utilize. 
  • Automated systems: APIs help streamline internal operations, as they allow companies to easily undergo digital transformations and switch over to automated systems.  

Getting Started with DreamFactory

While APIs and data warehouses are different processes, both allow business operations to get more out of their valuable business data. If you're ready to discover more about the benefits that data integration and data management can provide your business operation, contact our team today to start your free 14-day trial.

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