An API-Centric Approach to Application Development

Explore the benefits of an API-centric approach and the tools needed to make the shift.

By Michael Brenner

By Michael Brenner July 01, 2020

Application development is essential to many businesses that rely on technology to provide value. In creating programs to take on these different tasks, there are many options for developers. When building apps, the process can be long and tedious, depending on the complexity. But is there a smart way to build apps? An API-centric approach could accelerate app development.

What Is an API-Centric Approach?

An API-centric approach refers to the building of web services using application programming interfaces (APIs) that exchange data with other applications. The functionality of such an app involves allowing for the frontend and backend to communicate.

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How Are API-Centric Apps Built?

Programmers build API-centric apps by designing functions and classes that are interoperable with other elements and can also be implemented in a variety of languages.

The process includes using the backend of the app to facilitate the data exchange between components, including operating systems, databases, and other APIs. Developers save applications on a server that is configurable to many frontend interfaces, such as browsers or devices.

This capability is necessary because modern applications use multiple interfaces, and a single application is necessary to connect them all. To do this well and at scale, you’ll need the power of the cloud. By using the cloud, you can simplify application administration. However, when leveraging the cloud, you may have concerns about application security. To overcome these threats, you’ll want to take a security-first approach.

The Impact of Being API-Centric on Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is an initiative most businesses have. However, it’s also unique to every company. Digitally transforming your business is about more than having the latest technology. The key to achieving digital transformation is to take this technology and derive true value, which often involves improving efficiencies and processes. In these instances, APIs play an integral role because they are the connectors between data, systems, and people.

Advantages of an API-Centric Approach

APIs are the glue, connecting applications and services together. By embracing this approach to application development, your business can benefit greatly. Here’s what can be gained:

Quick and easy software development – Software development is rarely referred to as easy, but it can be easier, no matter what an application is designed to do. It streamlines the process and requires less code creation.

Improve user experience – Before the dawn of “there’s an app for that,” developers didn’t prioritize the user experience. Their objective was all logic in building a program that would do the job. You could say they lacked design empathy, which causes end products to suffer from low adoption. No engineer wants to design an app that no one will use. APIs have allowed programmers to shift their perspective and better understand the user experience.

Consistency and continuity in code is greatly improved – When using APIs, developers have these pre-built APIs to use across their enterprise. This can provide greater consistency across apps on the same platform. Using APIs can lead to less code maintenance and better code continuity.

Device agnostic – With APIs, teams can take input from as well as execute functions on any user device. Compatibility is no longer a roadblock.

Facilitates the adoption of multiple tech principles – By using APIs, you can really begin to leverage more modern tech principles. First, there’s the ability to create IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (artificial intelligence) apps and deploy them with less friction, which can create a variety of efficiencies throughout your enterprise. Additionally, APIs can assist with automation functionality, reducing the amount of manual work across your workforce.

Adaptability remains agile – Apps will, at some point, need an update or evolution due to internal or external factors. What’s great about an API-centric approach is that it helps separate the processes of app implementation and API development. In this scenario, an app isn’t just a piece of the implementation, leading to greater adaptability and optimization. Change is unavoidable in any industry, so building apps with this approach makes it less painful.

Enhanced descriptiveness – For seamless management, APIs have to be easily understood for all parties, technical or not. Much of the time this includes documentation of how the API works that can be understood by all stakeholders. With an API-centric approach, standardization of documentation is much more straightforward. In times of deviation from the standard, additional documentation will address this as well.

Making the Shift to API-Centric

There are several tools needed to bridge the technology gap with APIs. When IT systems move to hyperconverged infrastructure, it can help API-centric development by making it easy to scale and manage owned and rented resources.

Nutanix Enterprise Cloud – This platform accelerates time to value with optimal performance and availability without overcomplicating things. As noted, you’ll need a robust cloud for API app development. The Nutanix cloud delivers predictable performance, constant availability, and one-click management. 

Modern data center – A hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solution removes complexities and reduces the dependency on and cost of legacy systems. Traditional data centers struggle to keep up with the speed of modern business, but HCI can make infrastructure more agile, intelligent and lower total cost of ownership.

Hybrid cloud – Unify API work across a business with a hybrid cloud enables a single point of control for all apps and data. Multicloud application mobility allows for migration between clouds when necessary. The true win with this solution is that app management is decoupled from its underlying infrastructure, improving interoperability.

Michael Brenner is a keynote speaker, author and CEO of Marketing Insider Group. Michael has written hundreds of articles on sites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Guardian and he speaks at dozens of leadership conferences each year covering topics such as marketing, leadership, technology and business strategy. Follow him @BrennerMichael.

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