API integration tools play an essential role in web and mobile app development. This is because application programming interfaces (APIs) are necessary tools that developers use to extend the functionality of their applications, and in most cases, more than one API will be used.
APIs, in general terms, are used for connecting data sources and cloud-based apps. You may even find that you need to create your own API to accomplish the specific tasks your organization prioritizes.
With so many APIs in use, it is important for organizations to use API integration tools to manage their technology assets. Let’s take a close look at API integration platforms, see what they are, why they are important, and which API integration platforms are some of the best available.
API Integration Tools: What is an API Integration Platform?
API integration platforms work in two key ways. First, an API integration platform acts like a reservoir or API wallet where all of the APIs you own and use can be stored in a central location for easy access and maintenance. Second, an API integration platform allows organizations to integrate communications between APIs, so all of your information from different data sources is used to make the best possible decisions for your organization.
The bulk of the API integration tools that organizations use are cloud-based. Most of the time, the platform chosen for API management will come from a third-party provider. However, any API integration platform you choose should be customizable to fit your exact business needs.
One major advantage of choosing a third-party provider for your API integration platform is access to 24/7/365 global support. Modern business moves very fast. Having access to support at any time is an important benefit. An API integration platform provider should also be able to deliver scalability.
Why are API Integration Platforms Important?
Whether you are building a cross-platform mobile app, running a business with multiple departments and tools, or simply use a lot of different APIs, an API integration platform is an important tool for a number of reasons, including:
- Centralized API management
- API development
- App development
- Increased productivity
- Utilize legacy systems
Centralized API Management
There are tens of thousands of public APIs on the market, and there are thousands more private APIs too. While your organization is unlikely to be using tens of thousands of APIs, you could be using hundreds or possibly thousands. Even if you are only using 20 to 50 APIs, managing this many separate APIs is a very time-consuming task when done manually.
A centralized management platform makes handling all of your APIs easy. Complete visibility of every API and its deployment status is essential not only for security and compliance but also for maximizing your performance and resources.
API integration platforms also provide organizations with a comprehensive overview of how their APIs are working together. This is valuable when you are deciding where to spend financial resources and figuring out what the most efficient and valuable API combinations are for your organization.
Before there were API integration tools, if you wanted an API for a specific purpose, you only had a few options. You could hope to find a third-party API that met your needs or came close. You could develop the API on your own, or you could hire an app development company to create an API for you.
API integration platforms now give your organization the ability to develop APIs for your specific needs. Generally, platforms make the development process as simple as customizing existing API integrations. Imagine taking two or more APIs and turning them into one API that perfectly fits all of your requirements. Most API management platforms basically give you the ability to do just that.
Modern development projects, whether it be web design or mobile app development, rely heavily on the use of APIs. When you can quickly create new APIs by combining existing solutions in new patterns, you also have the ability to develop new, innovative applications too.
A good example of how previously created services can be combined in new ways is the social media platform Instagram. When Instagram began, it was basically a combination of photo filtering and social media. Instagram found a unique and innovative way to combine these two services, and as a result, they found a lot of success and eventually were purchased by Facebook.
API integration platforms give you the ability to expedite the app development process and find new, novel combinations of previously created services and features.
API integration platforms help increase your organization’s productivity in a few key ways. First, they make managing all of your different APIs a lot easier for your IT team. These management platforms also make the tasks of testing new APIs and integrating them into your current systems much easier and faster too.
Both of these simplified tasks help save your IT team a lot of time. With extra time, you can spend more time focusing on innovation and improving your business processes.
Utilize Legacy Systems
Cloud-based computing systems are becoming more prominent every year, but you might not yet be ready or able to leave behind your legacy systems. If you want to get the most out of your investment in the cloud, you need a way to integrate your legacy systems with your new cloud-based services.
API integration platforms can help your organization maximize the value of your legacy systems by helping you establish connectivity between your old systems and new systems.
API Integration Platforms
There are a lot of different API management platforms available. We’re not going to be able to list every option, but we will share some of the major platforms and highlight the key features and aspects that differentiate them from their competitors.
The Apigee API management platform is a Google creation. This platform offers many of the standard features such as app building, efficiency optimizations, and actionable insights into performance. However, this platform also offers a new API Hybrid feature that allows users to host their runtime anywhere.
Using Apigee, your runtime could be hosted in a public or private cloud or your own data center. This gives administrators the ability to improve runtime performance for users and manage API traffic.
Apigee is best suited for large enterprises, but even smaller organizations might find this platform useful. For specific pricing, you have to request a quote from the Apigee team.
This API integration platform was built for marketing teams. This platform gathers all campaign and other marketing data in real-time in one easy-to-read dashboard. Improvado gives users the ability to create automated reports and design custom dashboards for granular views and specific data sources.
Improvado boasts an excellent customer service team that can help you build out custom dashboards and integrations so that you can get the most out of your API integration platform. This company also does pricing on a custom basis, so we can’t share any price details with you.
IBM API Connect
This API management platform offers management for the entirety of your API lifecycle. Users can expect to find key features such as asset discovery, API creation, self-service tools, and high-end security.
This is another platform that was designed with large enterprises in mind, but that doesn’t mean that small to mid-sized companies can’t use this platform too. Like all of the other solutions we have already covered, you cannot find specific pricing. However, IBM does give users the ability to try API connect for free. If you’re not certain if this platform will be helpful to your business, you can try it first with no obligations.
API integration tools are important in a world where APIs are so crucial to the overall performance and functionality of so many apps and web services. Finding the best platforms or tools for your business might seem like a daunting task, but you can make it easier by seeking help from an app development partner.
A development partner will help you determine which tools best suit your needs, and they can even help you develop custom APIs to fit your needs and goals perfectly. Get help from someone with industry experience and technical expertise when you need help with API integration tools.