Two years ago, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg participated in a campaign to encourage more people to learn how to program. Their hope was to address a supposed shortage of programmers.
"This whole limit in the system is that there just aren't enough people who are trained and have these skills today," said Zuckerberg in a Code.org video.
Jitterbit, an 11-year-old company based in Alameda, Calif., would like to help companies get by with fewer developers. On Wednesday, the firm plans to introduce Harmony Live, a cloud platform for designing, connecting, and deploying APIs without the help of computer programmers.
"Harmony Live is an API management platform for the rest of us," said Andrew Leigh, VP of marketing and alliances at Jitterbit, in a phone interview. "You should be able to connect just about anything within your organization without writing code."
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It's hard to imagine an API without programming. After all, the term stands for Application Programming Interface. An API describes how programmers can interact with software or a service.
Jitterbit's platform allows companies to implement that interaction in a largely automated way. Using software called Jitterbit Studio, non-developers can create and deploy their own APIs to connect applications and business processes. Creating an API this way is largely a drag-and-drop affair, though it can involve custom SQL queries or the like.
Leigh said companies such as Airbnb and Uber show what can be done with APIs. By connecting people with maps, apps, and service providers, new business models have been created. And many of these business models offer a measure of automation, which can make customer service and product delivery more efficient.
Berklee College of Music in Boston deployed Harmony Live to connect its Salesforce system with Ellucian Colleague ERP and other databases in order to manage student data without replicating it across multiple systems. Luke Stevens, CTO of Berklee Online, said in a statement that "student information is always up-to-date and accurate."
Club Auto, a Canadian roadside assistance service, has also been working with Harmony Live. Using car telemetry from clients such as Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen, it has been able to detect automotive system warnings and route diagnostic information through Salesforce to suppliers of roadside assistance when the problem is sufficiently severe.
Harmony Live allows customers to connect popular applications, such as Autodesk, Microsoft, NetSuite, Oracle, Salesforce, and SAP, using pre-built connectors. It also provides customization options that include the ability to write custom database queries or insert custom code.
Leigh, however, maintained that Jitterbit's platform is supposed to reduce the need for custom development. "The more custom programming you apply to your API gateways, the more risk you're introducing," said Leigh.