We often have customers approach us with the same challenge – how can they allow customers, vendors and other third parties to access their data and provide orders and work requests? In the past this may have been done by sending files back and forward, but modern architectures and technologies have given a better solution: the web-based APIs.
How can APIs help an organisation?
To see how APIs can help an organisation, let’s take the example of a doughnut shop. To expand their business, the proprietor wants to sell doughnuts to local cafes. However, they don’t want to make more product than is required as they have a short shelf life, so they need to get orders in a short timeframe. They also don’t want to run the risk of prank orders, so they need to be able to ensure that only approved customers can place orders.
Our doughnut shop can use APIs to meet all of these requirements. Creating an orders API can allow individual cafes to place their orders daily, so we know precisely how many doughnuts are required and to whom they should be delivered. To provide information on the varieties available for purchase, a products API can return up-to-date data on the current range – ensuring that orders aren’t placed for retired products and that new or limited run products are included.
Requiring secured access to the APIs removes the risk of prank orders. By ensuring that only known users can interact with APIs, each request can be associated with an individual user. This could also allow for more complex logic – for example, instead of rejecting anonymous orders, they could instead require payment upfront.
One thing to note is that we haven’t defined what systems the doughnut shop uses behind the scenes. This is because APIs are technology independent – they are simply an agreed method of communication. Indeed, because they are using APIs the doughnut shop is free to change their backend systems without impacting their customers: if the API is maintained, the customer won’t even know anything has changed.
APIs aren’t just for doughnut shops, though. Adaptiv have implemented APIs for many organisations and across a variety of technologies. For example, we recently delivered an API solution for a customer using a combination of Microsoft Azure and Boomi AtomSphere technologies.
In this solution, the API which external parties interact with is hosted in Azure API Management (APIM). APIM manages all of the security for the APIs, ensuring that only authorised users can interact with the system. It also supports caching of previous responses where appropriate to reduce the load on backend systems. Finally, APIM provides a full-featured developer portal that documents the APIs and allows developers to test them interactively.
Acting as a bridge between the API and the backend systems is Boomi AtomSphere. Boomi receives requests from Azure API Manager and performs the requested action, whether retrieving customer information or placing a sales order. Using the user information provided by APIM Boomi can filter the data returned to ensure that users can only see appropriate data according to the defined logic.
With the new API implemented, the customer has been able to standardise their approach to communicating with external parties while ensuring everyone can access up-to-date, consistent data. Using Boomi AtomSphere and Azure API Management together allowed for the separation of the back-end systems from the external API, allowing internal systems to continue to evolve without impacting external users.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Adaptiv’s API solution can benefit your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. We’re here to help you streamline your processes and improve your systems.