API Integrations Are Key To Flexible, Reliable IT Automation

API integration automation is the practice of using APIs to rapidly and reliably automate processes between disparate endpoints and systems. Learn more.

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Reliable integrations are key to managing data and dependencies across IT and business systems. IT teams have traditionally relied on four methods to connect endpoints:

  • Custom scripts
  • Direct integrations
  • Universal connectors
  • APIs

There are pros and cons to each of these methods, with IT teams typically using a mix. For example, custom scripts can be very useful when managing connections for in-house applications (and because there’s usually someone willing to invest the time to write a really great script), but custom scripts are time-consuming and brittle.

Likewise, direct integrations can provide highly reliable connections to major platforms, but vendors can’t provide integrations for every tool in your stack. And universal connectors, while great to have on hand, typically only cover routine tasks.

That leaves us with APIs. An application programming interface (API) defines the function calls that a developer can use to expose an application’s data. This includes local APIs such as .NET and command lines, and web services such as RESTful, SOAP, or WSDLs. APIs can make it easier to share data between endpoints, but can raise security and compliance issues when open APIs are used.

What Are API Integrations?

APIs are ubiquitous and have been around for some time. Instead of writing dozens or hundreds of lines of code, developers can use APIs that abstract away complexity by providing libraries of defined function calls.

Today, when people talk about APIs they’re most likely referring to public or open APIs. Vendors provide APIs for their platforms and applications that developers can insert into their own code in order to retrieve data. For example, the Uber app uses data from Google Maps, while marketing teams might use APIs to connect Salesforce and HubSpot, or customer service to connect Zendesk to a back-end server. These are examples of API integrations.

Developers can also create their own internal APIs by building libraries that define function calls and syntax for any processes, software, or applications they might build. This gives developers a standardized method for quickly establishing connections between endpoints, without having to write lines upon lines of code. 

The most common type of API in use today is REST, or representational state transfer, which provides more flexibility than web services.

Why Are API Integrations Important?

IT teams are spending an increased amount of time providing digital services to consumers. Gartner expects that, by 2022, 70% of customer experience projects will rely on IT. 83% of IT teams expect demands for new digital products and services to grow this year.

Basically, organizations are going digital as fast as they can, digitizing services and operations for better customer experiences and more efficiency (and reliability). A lot of these services rely on platforms and applications from multiple vendors — which of course don’t provide direct integrations. As a result, IT teams are using REST APIs to meet business needs, such as providing real-time data to staff and consumers.

At the same time, IT environments are becoming increasingly complex as businesses are looking for new tools and technologies to differentiate themselves from competitors. And of course these new technologies don’t provide direct integrations. At least, rarely so.

In fact, 85% of IT teams report that integration challenges are hampering their organizations’ digital transformation capabilities, according to findings from MuleSoft. The same survey found that organizations using APIs as a main form of integration were 69% less likely to report integration problems.

APIs allow IT teams to automate the transfer of data between different applications and systems, reducing the need for custom scripting and for manual processes. That means more efficiency, more reliability, and faster roll-outs for new solutions.

API Integrations For Automated Processes

IT teams are increasing the use of automation to address the challenges of COVID-19 and economic disruption. Bain & Company estimates that the number of companies scaling their automation will double by 2023.

However, McKinsey’s Automation Survey found that only 45% of automation projects have been successful, with more than half of respondents reporting that automation projects were harder to implement than expected.

So what’s contributing to this issue?

Too many automation environments aren’t meeting expectations — largely due to antiquated automation strategies that rely on point solutions such as native job schedulers, custom scripts, and in-house applications. Point solutions result in silos that hamper integration and adaptation efforts by making IT environments overly complex.

Instead of relying on custom scripts, direct integrations, and web services, IT teams should look to REST APIs.

API Automation For IT And Business Processes

Workload automation (WLA) platforms that provide REST API adapters make it easy to integrate any software or service with an API, whether third-party or in-house. Users can take REST API calls from any library and use those calls to build their own API. APIs can also be used in combination with direct connections, custom scripts, and universal connectors to build reliable, reusable, cross-platform workflows.

This is made possible in part by a content-sensitive script editors that support a variety of content types: 

  • JSON
  • XML
  • Raw
  • URL encoded
  • Binary
  • Form-data

Automation platforms can help streamline API testing by enabling devops to test APIs within the API adapter. These API tests provide status codes and responses without having to wait for the job load to execute, so that issues can be quickly resolved without digging through logs.

Additional features and functionality such as Authentication Wizards, helpers, and intuitive UIs are making it even easier for IT teams to connect virtually any endpoint, reducing complexity and supporting IT process automation.

Adapt Faster With API Integration Automation

API integrations are a reliable alternative to custom scripting. But just like a script, an API needs to be managed, especially in complex environments where API use is extensive. The right workload automation platform provides API adapters that make it easy to incorporate API calls into end-to-end processes. Plus, with audit trails, change management, and reusable objects and templates, your team can manage API processes from a single point of control.

Don’t Settle For Unreliable Automation

Improve reliability and extensibility across your environment with the right workload automation strategies and tools.

Brian is a staff writer for the IT Automation Without Boundaries blog, where he covers IT news, events, and thought leadership. He has written for several publications around the New York City-metro area, both in print and online, and received his B.A. in journalism from Rowan University. When he’s not writing about IT orchestration and modernization, he’s nose-deep in a good book or building Lego spaceships with his kids.