Digital transformation continues to dominate boardroom discussions as businesses increasingly realise the organisational and cost efficiencies that digitisation can provide.
The concept reflects technology’s role in both shaping and stimulating strategic decision-making, with its ability to automate and simplify business processes, improve customer relationships, enhance productivity, and reap cost savings. In fact, IDC predicts that by the end of 2017, two-thirds of CEOs of global 2000 enterprises will have digital transformation at the centre of their corporate strategy.
However, it can be a challenge for organisations to implement a digitisation strategy against a background of increasingly complex day-to-day IT operations, which often involve managing both cloud and on-premises IT infrastructure. For many, application programming interfaces (APIs) are an essential component of merging the old and the new IT platforms, capturing vast amounts of data and ultimately achieving their digital transformation strategy.
The most common description of an API is a set of functions and procedures that allow applications to access the features or data of an operating system, application or other service to extend its capability or even create an entirely new feature. APIs are everywhere in our personal lives – whether that’s watching YouTube, posting on Facebook or purchasing something online from Amazon. APIs enable our digital lives.
The potential of APIs to deliver business advantage cannot be underestimated, either. APIs are igniting a cultural shift within many organisations, enabling the integration of diverse IT systems, building more collaborative and self-service IT environments, and deriving revenues from existing IT assets.
Analyst firm Gartner claims APIs can minimise the friction often caused by organisations implementing a ‘bimodal’ IT strategy – where legacy applications run alongside more innovative digital solutions. It says APIs are the layer through which ‘Mode 1’ and ‘Mode 2’ can connect, bridging the gap between core data and functionality, and a more experimental, innovative application.
APIs can also help simplify engagement with customers, while at the same time providing them with instant, valuable data insights into their business.
Here at iland we have prioritised the integration of APIs into our secure cloud platform to provide our customers with a simple way to engage with and manage their virtual machines and applications in the iland cloud.
For example, customers can access a wealth of data, reports and services via a single pane of glass. Using VMware’s vCloud Director multitenant platform as a foundation, iland’s custom console taps into more than twenty third-party services, such as the VMware vCenter solution, the VMware NSX Manager solution, Salesforce, and Veeam Software.
Customers can make API calls directly to iland’s console and cloud infrastructure, and access the enormous amount of performance, capacity, security and workload metadata that is stored there. Via a user-friendly interface, customers can quickly provision services, set role-based security, and analyse granular performance and capacity patterns. Through the console’s transparent billing capabilities, they get insight into expenses and ways to reduce costs, and they can also make feature recommendations via the console to improve the solution.
Everything in the interface can be automated through iland’s API or software development kits (SDKs), so customers can automate routine operational tasks without having to invest heavily in automation up-front. Also, because the iland cloud provides SDK for Java, Python, Erlang, and Golang, most of its API consumers can use their favourite language to jump right in and get started.
APIs also enable organisations to automate routing operational cloud management tasks – it’s popular with training companies who frequently spin up classroom templates, for example. The API makes it easy to spin up 100 classroom labs for a week, then spin down the labs when the class session has concluded.
In addition, customers can use APIs to integrate with their existing management tools. With our technology, for example, users can access monitoring data and integrate it with their existing monitoring or management tools, thereby extending their pre-existing tools into the iland Cloud.
Additionally, organisations are using APIs to add automation within a disaster recovery (DR) environment. For example, a customer can upload a virtual desktop template to iland and then automate the deployment of hundreds of copies of that desktop when a DR event is declared. Some DR customers are also using APIs to manage their DNS changes, so that their public services are migrated from production to DR in a failover event.
Finally, users can leverage APIs in a development or test environment; they can use scripts to simply power down the environment in the evenings or at weekends, and power back on in the morning, thereby saving money.
For cloud service providers, value added resellers (VARs) and system integrators (SIs), it’s becoming clear that true API integration is the new value-add. If companies want to build sustainable, profitable businesses in the new world of digitisation, they should consider developing skills that enable them to leverage the power and flexibility of APIs.
A 2016 report claims 44 percent of IT decision-makers believe building and managing APIs is fundamental to IT’s ability to complete digital transformation projects more quickly, and the same number said API reuse would significantly speed up digital transformation.
As digital transformation projects pick up pace, APIs will play an integral role in managing and optimising hybrid IT environments across both cloud and on-premises which is becoming the new reality in most businesses today.