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Modernizing Legacy Infrastructures with RESTful APIs

By CIOReview | Monday, February 20, 2017

In light of unburdening legacy infrastructures, enterprises are searching for ways that can enable them to drive a less loaded Application Programming Interface (API) to boost their app development efficiency. With the constant influx of data and increasing concerns over internal security, engineers are constantly struggling to build applications that keep up with the growing needs. Often, they are burdened by architectures and systems that are complicated, unscalable and outdated. RESTful APIs are an attractive option for modernizing legacy infrastructure to realize their maximum potential. Applying RESTful APIs to legacy systems can provide advantages by opening up functionalities that were previously locked behind specific technologies. Developers can use cutting edge tools to create new products faster in a secure and flexible manner.

Using RESTful APIs for Modernization

RESTful APIs are most commonly used to boost the connection and interaction with cloud services by controlling how the URL is decoded. A RESTful API provides flexibility to developers by breaking down a transaction into a series of modules for each part of the transaction. Its stateless nature makes it more preferable as it can be quickly be redeployed if a component fails as well as scaled to accommodate load changes. This is the reason for RESTful APIs to be more favorable when it comes to web usage. This system simplifies adding new features and functionalities to grow with the business’ needs.

Most commonly RESTful APIs with JSON protocols are used to produce software development kits (SDK). This is usually done to shift the burden from using APIs to SDKs to provide platform specific code that developers can use in their apps to initiate API operations. SDKs help decrease inefficient codes that can slow down services for users. By complementing APIs with SDKs, developers can benefits from higher speeds on certain platforms.

Selecting a Suitable Approach

The first approach involves adding a layer of API on the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) present in the legacy system. This shift is quickly driven by the wider use of JSON and REST services. Further, the introduction of new API management products that offer support for established SOA governance and management tool sets also facilitate this approach. Adding a layer of API on the traditional SOA empowers the legacy architecture with more sophisticated and modern capabilities, eliminating the need to install new or special infrastructure.

The next approach is mobile first approach—connecting an API directly with the back end legacy system. With each system having a separate wrapper, users do not have to integrate local service data with other services. Enterprises are quickly realizing the value of modernizing their back end systems through RESTful APIs by identifying the best approach for their needs.

Modernizing legacy systems through the adoption of RESTful API depends on the back end infrastructures and the way they are built. In case of green screen infrastructures, APIs can be used to expose them to wrap an accreditation layer around them. On the other hand, a COBOL program can be wrapped as APIs. In some instances, however, the legacy system is not realized to its maximum potential. It is essential to understand when there is a requisite to migrate from a legacy system and when the same functionality can be achieved by simply migrating the applications, while using the same platform. The engineering teams need to consider building the best structure suitable to their requirements with maximum reusability.