Businesses today rely on data. They collect it, store it, and make decisions based on it. They can also make it available to their customers. But accessing that data requires an application or in most cases, several applications, depending on the size and needs of the business. An API, or application programming interface, is the method of communication a business uses to interact with their data. When a company uses multiple APIs and needs to connect them together, they use API integration, which lets their different systems trade information seamlessly. But what else is unique about APIs and API integration? Let’s dive a little deeper into each of them.
What Are the Different Types of APIs?
The first type of API is public API, or open API. Public APIs have little or no restrictions, so a business can allow its customers or anyone else to access data or information. Customers can monitor the inventory of a business they are using. This is advantageous for both, as the customer can quickly check availability and by being open, the business can sell more products or services.
Partner APIs are limited to two or more businesses that have an agreement to work together. Because of this, the APIs have security and users need to be verified to access them.
Internal APIs are used solely by one company and are not available to external users. A company wants to protect its sensitive information, so internal APIs are restricted to certain employees who are working to help exchange of information within the business run smoothly.
Composite APIs allow users to group multiple requests for information from the API into one single request. They are useful when one request for data, or call, involves accessing multiple sources.
What Are API Protocols and How Many Types Are There?
API protocols are the defined sets of rules for accessing APIs. There are four types: REST, SOAP, RPC, and event-driven APIs.
REST APIs, or Representational State Transfer, are used for web-based applications. They use a uniform language to communicate with each other.
SOAP APIs, or Simple Object Access Protocol, have been used for years. They have strict rules, which cause businesses to use extensive resources. Therefore, REST APIs tend to be the preferred choice over SOAP.
RPC APIs, or Remote Procedure Call, are the earliest and most basic type of API protocol. Because of their longtime use, they are difficult to maintain or make changes to.
Event-driven APIs are used for transferring real-time information. They do not send information back and forth, they only update the user when something has changed, making them more efficient.
How Does API Integration Work?
API integration is the process of getting two or more of a business’ applications to share data. Years ago, when companies needed to link two of their systems, they would just write computer code to make the process work. But now with so many cloud-based services, companies are dealing with vastly larger amounts of information and multiple applications. To write code for each of them would be too time-consuming and expensive. API integration allows companies to connect their systems quickly and easily, without wasting company resources.
What Are the Benefits of API Integration?
API integration is fully automated. Data will transfer between a companies’ APIs instantly and without the need for the involvement of employees. This saves time and helps reduce errors. With so many interactions between APIs involving huge amounts of data, it would be impossible for people to do it quickly and without mistakes along the way. With the automated process of API Integration, businesses don’t have to worry about human error and can instead use their employees in ways that are more beneficial to the company.
API integration gives companies room to grow because they are scalable. As companies grow and their needs diversify, they add more applications which need to be connected. Before API integration, they would have to write new processes each time. But now, API integration lets them do this quickly and repeatedly as they expand.
API integration gives a company better visibility and communication because they can track all their systems at the same time. With complete visibility of their processes, a company can create more complex data reports, which allows them to make better decisions for their business.
API Integration Is Growing
It is becoming more and more common for companies to use APIs and API Integration, especially with the wide use of cloud-based data storage. It is vital for companies to have quick and easy access to data for themselves, their partners, and their customers. Choosing the right APIs and integrating them is an important step for a business and will allow it to expand in the future.