So, what is “API integration”?
API integration is the connection between two or more applications via their APIs (application programming interfaces) that allow systems to exchange data sources. API integrations power processes throughout many sectors and layers of an organisation to keep data in sync, enhance productivity and drive revenue.
API is an interface and is part and parcel of almost everything in the digital world. No matter the business and the size of the enterprise, APIs enable seamless operation and performance of applications and web systems.
However, there is an additional requirement to achieve optimal and automated business processes and procedures that interact and share critical data. This is where API integration comes in.
Why is API Integration necessary?
API connectivity helps applications share data and communicate with each other without human interruption. You enable communication between two web tools or applications through their APIs. It allows organisations to automate systems, enhance the seamless sharing of data, and integrate current applications.
Enterprises cannot overlook the importance of API integration in the modern world. After the explosion of cloud-based products and apps, organisations must create a connected system where data is relayed automatically between various software tools. API integration makes that possible as it allows sharing process and enterprise data among applications in a given ecosystem.
It unlocks a new level of flexibility of information and service delivery. It also makes the embedding of content from different sites and apps easy. An API acts as the interface that permits the integration of two applications.
Examples of API integration
E-commerce sites are among the most significant users of API integrations. Web stores have order management systems that process shopping and shipping orders. But to process them, they need to access servers and databases which include customers, products, and inventory levels.
There is an ongoing data interchange, which connects the online store to the shopping cart. Enterprises achieve this through API integration.
The payment gateway integration is another example. As a consumer, you don’t see the actual transaction when paying for a product online. But in the background, there is data transfer for verification of your credit card/debit card details. The payment gateway API is integrated into the web store and often hidden out of sight.
How API Integration is Achieved
Currently, there are several ways to achieve API integration. They significantly depend on the individual needs of your system or business.
Custom-built integrations involve hand-written scrip from a software developer with a deep understanding and knowledge of the API documentation. This technique became popular some years back, but the cost of custom development (and ongoing maintenance) has made it less attractive against newer integration methods. It can also be very time consuming to take this approach.
Connector applications are designed to facilitate the data transfer between two well-known software platforms. Connectors are affordable, make it quicker to deploy standard API solutions and make integrations easier to manage and maintain. They also reduce the need for API management.
API Integration Platforms
These are typically SaaS applications dedicated to developing API integrations that help join other SaaS applications and systems.
They support a certain level of flexibility as you can build custom integration apps using robust tools available in the market. Some like RapidQL can fetch and transform data into a form that your app can understand with just a single query. It permits you to make requests to different private and public APIs as well as databases simultaneously.
These IPaaS services can also allow you to connect and stack multiple APIs, which goes a long way to helping Enterprises automate their workflows.