API Management and Integration – managing your data sharing across applications

In today’s fast-paced e-commerce world where your customers have easy access to your competitor’s website, a smooth user experience is critical to your success. Combining capabilities from multiple systems by using API’s is essential to maintain data sharing across your applications, with some organisations having up to 1000 applications in their portfolio.

Most modern companies today are IT-centric, depending on their IT systems to deliver the goods and services their customers buy, and their partners deliver. With the increase of online business transactions post pandemic, automation has experienced a great digital shift with companies experiencing 10 years of digitalization in one year. In an effort to ensure that supply chain challenges and customer service disruptions never encounter the same impact and disruption again, there has been a huge rise in the investment of digital transformation projects. 

IBM research insights predict that 80% of organizations who are scaling their intelligent automation are expected to outperform their competitors in profitability within three years.

Part of this drive for digital transformation includes maintaining visibility with interfaces, to ensure their proper function. With the growing complexity of today’s modern application estates, organisations embarking on complex digital transformation initiatives must have a strong integration strategy for their transformation to be successful. We already know that APIs are key to a digital transformation because of the sheer number and complexity of applications that most medium size organisations require. Establishing a modern IT architecture that is agile and collaborative is key but ensuring that you do not sacrifice control is even more imperative.

In 2022, most organizations are striving for digital competency, seeking the best digital integration methods across their technology platforms, business processes and organizational barriers.

There is no automation without integration! To enable the sharing and connecting of data between applications irrespective of the data format and protocol used between them, we need integration for real time exchange of messages, events, and processes to take place securely across the hybrid cloud. Tech-adopting businesses with more efficient systems for moving and accessing data statistically achieve 20% higher revenue growth rate but this is incumbent upon proper API management. We must ensure that we build custom business automation applications that provide operational efficiency at a faster rate and at a reduced cost without exposing our organizations to business and security risks. Unfortunately, APIs on their own will not offer the safeguarding, visibility, and security you need without a robust management solution. 

IBM is the market leader in API Management Solutions for organizations whose integration strategy focuses on API’s, event streams and good citizen development capabilities.

IBM Integration has several automated, secure, and scalable integration capabilities to enable organizations to digitally transform and grow their business. There are three main entry points to IBM integration namely, API Integration, Event Integration and Messaging and Connectivity. In order to understand how to apply automation and integration technologies to improve the processes and systems into your organisation, it is important to understand these entry points and their capabilities: 

1. IBM API Integration

Integrate by building, managing, and sharing APIs with your customers and users, enabling your business to deliver new services faster with improved productivity and automation in a single, unified experience by

IBM’s Key API-Led Integration capabilities enable innovation, with fast delivery and the acceleration of project timelines. With the automation of your integration lifecycle, you empower both business and IT users to build innovative solutions and increase revenue with external API’s connecting to a broader ecosystem.

  • Create: Developers can create new APIs, rapidly unlocking data, applications, and services by using open standards, SaaS services and supports operations across a variety of implementation approaches, all of which is shown via a single view dashboard. What sets IBM apart is its breadth of functionality, the completeness of use cases, the ability to support demanding workloads, and future readiness.
  • Secure: IBM App Connect offers robust performance at scale, with security. You can quickly apply built-in and extendable policies to secure, control and mediate the delivery of APIs with scalable enterprise-grade gateways across clouds. This is directly beneficial to your clients with reduced support tickets and hardware requirements, zero security gaps and improvement of team productivity. With every product release IBM continues to lead and improve on these parameters.
  • Manage: Package, publish, promote, and reuse APIs across environments with full lifecycle control throughout to ensure business outcomes. The integration development team can fully automate all aspects of the integration lifecycle, enabling a client to automate and deliver integration to production with unprecedented speed and with cost reduction.
  • Socialize: Empower internal and external developers to discover and use your APIs with integrated portals to discover, test and consume APIs, building your digital brand and community.
  • Connect: Securely and non-intrusively connect with hundreds of on-premises and SaaS apps with pre-built smart connectors to build APIs service, database, or file systems to integrate data and processes across an organization.
  • Test: Native application test suite for agile test-driven development for experts to validate the efficacy of integration configurations in real-time and on demand. 

2. IBM Event-led Integration

Event Integration works with events in real-time and uncovers new insights about your business to deliver more relevant and engaging customer experiences. Anything that happens in your business can be shared as an event allowing you to unleash real-time insights to drive data-driven actions.

Your business can use powerful integration tools to share and provide access to this data by: 

The AI is used to detect and anticipate your most critical business situations and enables existing events to be discovered and consumed by any user. Imperceptible correlations and hidden patterns can also be uncovered, saving hours of analysis. You can also uphold enterprise policies, such as data access, data residency, data models, interface versioning, etc. Distribution can obtain events from their source as required – built on open technologies, such as Apache Kafka, using an IBM Event-led Integration or your own event distribution layer.

The benefits include the ability to:

  • Enable personalized customer experiences that respond to changes in the world and can react in real-time.
  • Unlock data and events from existing systems to become a real event-driven enterprise deriving business insights across all domains.
  • Build intelligent apps on Apache Kafka and deploy in minutes not hours making it easy and intuitive to use at scale.
  • Rely on disaster recovery and security designed for mission-critical use.  

3. IBM Messaging and Connectivity

IBM Messaging and Connectivity provides reliable and secure messaging capabilities for your business-critical data securely moving it at high speed regardless of size, distance, or network conditions. Businesses can connect all their endpoints with IBM MQ due to its support for multiple protocols, APIs, and application languages. This means almost any endpoint can be connected. Simple queues and topics provide straightforward application messaging, but MQ also provides true routing capabilities to join applications and systems together, locally, and globally. This includes file data transfer with MQ Advanced “Managed File Transfer”. MFT is a reliable and efficient means for secure data and file transfer, outpacing, and outperforming applications such as file transfer protocol (FTP), hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), secure file transfer protocol (SFTP), and other methods. It is also incredibly reliable, leading the market for over 27 years and used by the most demanding clients with challenging systems. The built-in High Availability and Disaster Recovery options means that businesses are less concerned about system failure events as all critical/valuable data will be delivered as required. MQ Advanced is secure by design from fine grained authentication and authorization of messaging resources to full end-to-end encryption of data from one application to another. Security is assured, even without administrators gaining access.

The Key messaging capability includes: 

The smooth application connection, real-time information exchange and high-performance delivery of business-critical data with improved speed and reliability is a cost-effective option. Over 85% of the Fortune 100 depend on IBM Messaging (including 98 of the top global 100 banks). In addition, there is a reduction in your security risk with the secure transfer of highly sensitive data between apps with the strict security regulations in place such has one time delivery of data and the foundation of a secure and reliable protocol.

In these uncertain times, organisations need to implement incremental improvements in how they deliver services to their customers and integrate with their partner community. Companies that invest in this area are proven to be outperforming their competitors and the gap will continue to grow as they accelerate this investment opportunity. Coliance can help you build a more compelling digital interaction for your organization that enables real time engaging experiences that are important in today’s data driven competitive marketplace. 

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