How the API Affects IT at Midsize Business
Before mobile computing came rumbling around the corner and into IT's purview, the application programming interface (API) was deemed a secondary concept. Now, according to an article in InformationWeek by writer Joe Masters Emison, it is being discussed as a major factor in IT strategy. In fact, midsize companies endeavoring to save costs by implementing advanced software solutions should think about what their long-term API strategy will be.
The onset of software-defined networking (SDN) will mean that current methods of proprietary interface-style configuration of network equipment will go the way of the floppy drive. SDN APIs will give midsize IT the ability to run more optimized and less expensive networks. This use of an API for data traffic will increase the malleability of a network so that it will be customizable to exactly what a business needs. Instead of using out-of-the-box routers, switches and firewalls, IT staff will be able to protect their network by building it for unique reliability and performance requirements.
In the same way in which SDN will bring out-of-the-box network functionality into a more modern and programmable future, cloud computing will yield the same benefits as a result of increased usage of APIs. Many business processes are so hardened inside some organizations that the cloud has not quite been able to catch on; however, an API that can add, subtract or modify particular functions will make a difference in cloud utilization as that company continues to grow.
The Impact of APIs
The emergence of the application programming interface is the result of a need for reduced software complexity. It made a lot more sense to break up gigantic blocks of software code into more manageable pieces that could be changed later on for the specific reason of customization.
Midsize IT strategy will eventually be to embrace both SDN and cloud computing as essential to operations. Both methods will enable organizations to cut costs and to obtain enhanced computing functionality; but in order for that to happen, IT must also embrace the API.
Today, IT professionals at midsize firms are administrators of a mostly native system. This generally includes servers, networking hardware and personal computers as parts of a system's whole. The reduction of overall capital expenditure on software and hardware could require more attention to detail on the part of IT professionals who will have to keep track of every cloud and SDN system that are controlled by an API. This will entail more disparate systems that are likely to be smaller in scale than those of the past. With an influx of APIs for every software solution, IT will have to be the guardian of software often hosted by a third party. This may mean greater reliance on vendors and contracted developers that specialize in particular application programming interfaces.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.