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APIs Can Leverage Enterprise Application Interoperability

By CIOReview | Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It has become easier for today’s enterprises to harness valuable information about their customers and thereby leverage their business potential and opportunities. When services that companies employ range across multiple vendors, platforms and devices, Applications Programming Interface (APIs) ease development process and serve as a bridge fostering interoperability among applications, users and customers. Previously, firms relied on custom made applications built atop Enterprise Content Management (ECM) to address collaboration which resulted in a rather isolated system that demanded more resources in terms of maintenance, upgrades and bug fixes. The need to achieve smoother interoperability across various vendor offerings of ECM led to the formation of an open standard Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) which by definition, ‘defines an abstraction layer for controlling diverse document management systems and repositories using web protocols.’

ECMs written on Open Source Software (OSS) are more compatible with open APIs. Since their widespread popularity in the 1990s, the open source model has manifested itself as a robust and wallet friendly option for many enterprises. The absence of license fee or acquisition cost and the code being freely downloadable enables enhancement with any desirable feature.  Google Developer Tools for instance, offers all kinds of APIs and SDKs that can be used for user engagement, monetization and analytics to name a few. A glimpse into their catalogue of offerings would itself suggest a number of possibilities to enhance firm’s website, app or relevant framework.

Aided by ever improving internet penetration and enterprise mobility, concept of remote workforce has gained a momentous leverage. The inevitable advent of IoT and headgears would continue to impart more flexibility into enterprises. Seamless integration across the tangible gadgets of employees while ensuring security is quite a concern for firms. The diversity in mobile devices at the hardware and software level has already burdened enterprises ensuring cross compatibility. SaaS is another business model that utilizes APIs at large. Although their service approach differs from OSS, wherein the application infrastructure is confined to data centers, if applications cannot readily communicate with other systems, enterprise-class business solutions are impossible to implement. Being an OSS or SaaS vendor, choosing open API is critical in the long run, as their subscription model entitles them to be answerable to their clients.

As in the instance of SaaS offerings, Slack is a promising enterprise messaging and collaboration app that has witnessed rising acceptance in the corporate arena. The app employs APIs with other file sharing services such as Dropbox to enable users to easily share files. Its prospective integration with other services enables both parties to mutually benefit while being able to stay ahead from competitors. Without an API interface that is equally user friendly, this would have been otherwise difficult to achieve.

“Instead of being forced to marry a platform, APIs will open doors for multiple platforms to tie together in an ecosystem that is fast and flexible. Certain software and technology companies may resist this change as it means sharing the pie, but for companies looking to deploy the technology that creates the best user experience, it is often required to source from multiple vendors.” writes author and Principal Analyst of Futurum Research Daniel Newman, in a guest post on Forbes. The API community as of now remains largely unaffected by copyright friction although the Oracle versus Google lawsuit kept analysts on the edge of their seats, fingers crossed. When Google’s use of Java API in Android OS was challenged by Oracle, Google countered that the Java language has always been "free and open" to use and that included re-implementing Java APIs. Eventually the case was ruled in favor of Google which in turn protects the integrity of APIs.

With all the potential open API holds in tandem with OSS or cloud platforms, making an abrupt switch from existing system is not a recommendable practice. If ECMs and its features continue to serve firms as expected, then CIOs need think about replacing them in the long run after proper evaluation of API offerings that promise scalability.