Integrating Applications Through an API-First Approach

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As the enterprise IT landscape becomes larger and more complex, many organizations are finding it difficult to manage all of their systems and services. According to a study by the access management company Okta, businesses use an average of 73 different enterprise software applications — and 1 in 10 businesses use more than 200 apps. On-premise business APIs can help connect these applications, but they come with several noteworthy drawbacks. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can go about integrating applications throughout your on-premises network with an API-first approach.

The Traditional Approach

Traditionally, on-premise business APIs have been built using a “piecemeal” approach. Whenever the need for a new integration arises, developers work on creating a point-to-point connection between your internal systems and the third-party service.

However, this method has a number of disadvantages. The first two are time and money. According to our API cost calculator, it can take as much as $20,000 and 30 days of full-time work to build even a relatively simple API. What’s more, this isn’t even necessarily the total cost required. Custom-built APIs can be highly inflexible and may unexpectedly stop working if changes are made to one or both of the endpoints — which requires you to devote even more time and money to fixing the issue.

Despite these problems, on-premise business APIs are a necessity in many IT ecosystems. In particular, these APIs help you integrate legacy hardware and software that hasn’t yet been modernized or migrated to the cloud. Laws and regulations such as HIPAA and FINRA may also require organizations in industries like healthcare, finance, and government to maintain their sensitive and confidential data on-premises (or at the very least, make it a smart idea to do so).

What Is an API-First Approach?

As the name suggests, the term “API-first” means that your application programming interfaces are given primary importance during the software development process. This means that developers think about what an application’s API will look like before creating either the application or its API. During this preliminary step, the API is defined using a common REST API standard such as OpenAPI.

Using an API-first approach has many advantages, including:

  • Compatibility with microservices: APIs are an essential component of the microservices software architecture, in which applications are built out of multiple small, interdependent services. An API-first approach helps define the protocols by which individual microservices will communicate and exchange information with each other.
  • Flexibility and scalability: The API-first approach offers a great deal of flexibility for your software architectures. Individual components and microservices can be added, changed, or removed without harming the integrity of the entire application. API-first software can also handle unexpected loads and create redundancies more gracefully, making it highly available, scalable, and fault-tolerant.

Cloud vs On-Premises

Most organizations these days have chosen a “cloud-first” strategy, preferring to use the cloud (and migrate to it) as much as possible. Yet an API-first approach doesn’t require you to move to the cloud — you can still build a rich, connected API ecosystem while remaining on-premises.

In fact, placing an API over your older systems and software helps address issues like security, which is a significant concern for legacy IT. Modern APIs come equipped with gateway authentication technology that makes it harder for malicious actors to break into your network. With these factors in mind, how can you achieve an API-first stance and modernize your on-premise business APIs? The answer lies in a feature-rich, cutting-edge API management tool like DreamFactory.

How DreamFactory Helps With API Integration

DreamFactory is an API integration platform that can help integrate your IT systems and services, both on-premises or in the cloud. The DreamFactory platform offers two solutions to fit the needs of any organization: one on-premises, the other hosted in the cloud. In particular, the on-premises version of DreamFactory is infinitely scalable: We don’t limit your API volumes, seat count, or service creation. What’s more, if you decide that you want to migrate from on-premises to the cloud (or vice versa), DreamFactory supports that process as well.

Ready to start integrating applications?  Sign up for a 14-day free trial and start creating your APIs today.

Related reading on integrating applications:

App Development: 3 Ways to Add an API to Your App