CIOs must enhance infrastructure, architecture, and data capabilities to fully leverage cloud-based APIs.

4 Min Read
Woman hand clicking on API button opening VR interface. Application Programming Interface. Software Development.
Elena Uve via Alamy Stock

The adoption of and migration toward cloud has expanded the ways in which software is developed, and perhaps one of the biggest innovations in recent years has been the creation of application programming interfaces (APIs).

Cloud-based APIs -- software interfaces that allow developers to link cloud computing services together -- are the essential building blocks for modern software delivery. 

Leaders in the cloud space have been able to create ecosystems in which developers can build new capabilities by integrating existing API platforms. This low-code approach, which leverages well-defined application interfaces has allowed developers to home in on their core competencies without having to reinvent the wheel every time they need to make an update, build a new customer capability, or develop an innovative feature.

For example, if an airline wants to provide travelers with local weather features on their mobile application, then they wouldn’t have to create an entirely new app. They can either create an API that connects to a third-party weather app and presents that information to the customer or simply connect to the weather API directly.

This strategy increases speed to market and offers customers a feature-rich application that incorporates well-written and well-managed APIs. Agile development practices facilitate the creation and management of APIs and incorporate best-of-breed features for customers who can utilize an API catalog rather than building their own applications. Furthermore, an API-led approach allows developers to reuse their APIs for a multi-channel experience because they have an existing core repository to reference.

Leaders looking to leverage APIs for their organization should consider infrastructure services available for consumption, architecture design, and how their data is exposed.

Infrastructure

From an infrastructure perspective, APIs developed by platform vendors and SaaS providers have the potential to improve customer experience significantly and act as a catalyst for their growth. Infrastructure APIs accelerate time-to-market, removing the need for the product team to wait around for other areas of the organization to provide required resources or capabilities.

What’s further, well-designed APIs enable self-service throughout the enterprise, as well as both the creation and deletion of resources. Organizations that leverage self-service through the robust use of infrastructure APIs can deliver a higher quality product at a faster speed, while focusing on continuous improvement. This is a key capability needed as product organizations look to optimize their FinOps practices.

Consider a leading cloud-based software company that has developed a massive ecosystem of applications. Their customers across industries – whether Fortune 500 organizations or small startups – can build off of this platform and wholly tie their businesses into this ecosystem.

Enterprises interested in managing their organizational infrastructure differently should invest in learning how to leverage APIs to their advantage – specifically where platform engineering is concerned. The organizations that do build their businesses off the APIs of existing platform companies can generate revenue and drive business growth faster.

Architecture

APIs are a key enabler for organizations seeking to modularize and expose their services for internal and external consumption -- but they must be reliable and secure in order to build trust with consumers.

There are several qualities of a reliable and secure API architecture, including:

  • Ensures the data privacy and integrity of consumers

  • Is well-documented, easy to use, and has 360-degree compatibility

  • Is built with developers (both internal and external) in mind

  • Provides consistent responses from the developer following an agreed upon contract

  • Includes API gateways and service meshes, which offer the ability to authenticate and route requests to APIs and are needed as the platform scales to achieve greater customer demand

A concrete API architecture is key for these platform businesses and SaaS providers – and must be user friendly in order to drive value. Developers must provide exposure and clarity through proper cataloging and assume full responsibility for the design and technology choices utilized in the creation of these APIs.

Data

When discussing APIs, data is theasset. APIs offer the capability to expose and crowdsource data, which customers can then access.

The legacy data entry process traditionally utilized a user interface and was relatively slow. Modern data operations through APIs are exponentially faster -- accelerating access and operations tremendously.  What’s further, many organizations are using APIs to turn their data into a commodity -- for example, training artificial intelligence and machine learning applications or to better understand marketing and user preferences.

This ties back to an overarching theme: The ways in which data is accessed and utilized has experienced a rapid evolution in recent years. IoT technology has created an exponential number of new data sources, and new technologies such as augmented reality and the metaverse are opening the door for new customer experiences that have not yet been developed.

Another major disruptor is 5G, which has made data more portable and remotely accessible, and has drastically accelerated the speed at which enterprises can download and consume it. Additionally, 5G enables customers to use API-driven products through their mobile devices anywhere their cellular signal is strong enough. This allows customers unprecedented access to products and services.

It is important for CIOs and decision-makers alike to understand the capabilities and values of cloud-based APIs. The ability to increase the agility, scalability and interoperability of an organization should not be ignored but leveraged as a competitive advantage to enhance business outcomes.

About the Author(s)

Mark Schena

Chief Platform Engineer, Capgemini Americas, Capgemini Americas

Mark Schena is a Chief Platform Engineer at Capgemini Americas, where he is focused on accelerating Product Delivery and Technical Operations by building high performing teams, embracing agile delivery for Technical Operations, and ensuring rapid adoption of new capabilities, platforms, and technologies.

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