by Tony Harris • May 11, 2021
Recent global events have forced many businesses to embrace digital technology. This and advancements in software technology caused explosive innovation, resulting in the development of new platforms within many organization’s technology suite. Functionalities such as automation, artificial intelligence, and even some internet of things (IoT) applications are now commonplace across large enterprises, small businesses and start-ups alike. These enhanced functionalities are made possible with the use of APIs which are now seen by many as the key to IT decentralization. To adapt to this new way of leveraging APIs, businesses need to carefully examine existing development processes, how data is unlocked and made available to ever increasing front-end applications and how large technology initiatives can be accelerated through more effective API employment.
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The question of whether IT is best centralized or decentralized can be difficult to answer, and what’s best for you will depend on your business needs. But what do these terms mean? Read on.
Centralized IT is an organizational structure in which all devices connect to a single server for apps, services, and data. This is the traditional way to handle IT, and it does still have its benefits. Centralized IT systems have lower bottom line expenses due to having only one server to maintain. It can improve productivity for the IT department. It can be easier to comply with industry regulations. And it can avoid the data silos that are possible with decentralized IT.
The downfall of a centralized IT structure is that constant connectivity is vital to your business. If your main server falls, your workflows fall with it. This was actually the driving force behind developing a more decentralized structure, as Cold War era researchers feared the security implications of having all data housed in one place. (Don’t worry, modern cloud computing and storage is much more secure.)
Decentralized IT is an organizational structure in which devices can connect to one of several connected servers. These servers are maintained and used by different departments in a business. The upside to this IT structure is it allows for fail-safes and custom IT configuration for each department. It also lends itself well to the businesses that share data and offer open APIs to third-party developers.
The downsides of this decentralized architecture are that it can be harder to scale, and businesses run the risk of developing data silos. That being said, this structure works best for businesses that wish to operate in a more agile manner or open themselves to an API-focused ecosystem. It is becoming increasingly apparent to many that the role of APIs in IT decentralization is becoming more pronounced every day.
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If you’re planning a digital transformation project, your goal should be to make your business more flexible in response to technological changes and keep pace with your competition. This may mean rethinking your business architecture. Placing an API at the centre of your new business structure can help make your enterprise more composable and better equipped for rapid changes and upgrades based on user experience.
Here’s how that would work. An API is a development tool that acts as a mediator for incongruent software components like apps and microservices. Programs that wouldn’t normally integrate are now connected with an API. You’re no longer limited by licensing agreements or operating systems but instead have the ability to pick and choose which services would suit your business best. Legacy systems, third-party systems, even apps designed for a different industry can have a place in your API if you want it and can be unified into a single developer portal for use or export.
With an API-centered business strategy, you can open your business services and data access to outside services. Third-party analysts and developers can provide valuable insights and innovations that a centralized IT department may not have. You can even monetize and become an API provider, creating a new revenue stream by sharing it with partners. Your public API may be used as a building block to create new products and services, much like Google Maps’ API was used to create various apps like Uber and other rideshare services.
DreamFactory’s API management and creation platform is here to guide you through all steps of your API’s lifecycle. We can help you create a full-featured, documented, and secure REST API from scratch or from your existing SOAP web service. We also have resources to guide you through adding more features to your API strategy and make them better.
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