Cloud services have transformed the way business is conducted around the world by offering a myriad of possibilities that erstwhile only existed as figments of fantasy. Any business using cloud compute services involves heavy dependence on developer teams for the creation of cloud applications. This is where APIs gain importance, but in order to know the importance of APIs for your cloud infrastructure, we need to first understand what is an API.
What is an API?
Wikipedia defines API (Application Programming Interface) as a computing interface that defines interactions between multiple software intermediaries. An API essentially offers definitions and protocols that help with the integration of applications. To be more specific, a Cloud API enables the development of applications used for provisioning cloud services. One can then say that API is more of a facilitator or interface that brings cloud services to users.
Cloud APIs enable communication between the service provider and applications without revealing the implementation aspect. One can take an example of protocols to define APIs wherein is an API gets a request structured in a particular format; it will respond in a particular manner or perform a specific task.
Classification of APIs
As we have learned, APIs help developers or IT teams provision resources and services in the public cloud. However, Cloud APIs can be further classified on the basis of services such as SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS.
Platform APIs: APIs that are integrated with an enterprise’s own elements help the business provision back-end architecture, which leads to creation of detailed or feature-filled applications.
Software APIs: Software APIs are often also referred to as application APIs, and their main task is to ensure connectivity between the enterprise’s infrastructure and the services of functions being delivered via cloud services.
Infrastructure APIs: As is clear from the terminology and the patterns displayed by the two kinds of APIs above, Infrastructure APIs are responsible for provisioning and management of compute and storage services in the cloud.
The three aforementioned types are by no means an exhaustive classification of Cloud APIs but do cover the major kinds. Of late, as more and more enterprises have started using cloud services from various providers, APIs have gained far greater prominence, which we shall learn about in the next section.
Why Should Businesses Use Cloud APIs?
As we said, the complex cloud usage patterns in multi-cloud environments demand interoperability of applications, and APIs are a major facilitator for interoperability. Further, as more and more cloud services become dependent on APIs, application reusability is another aspect that mandates API usage for an enterprise. As developing an application from grounds-up each time is not just time-consuming, but also expensive, APIs act as the foundation for the development of new applications. Thus, APIs can help in not just accelerating the development process, but also save costs and resources for a business.
Lastly, if a business takes the partner approach with their APIs, it can also create brand awareness for their business and bring in fresh innovation for the company. The influx of fresh innovation and improved efficiency can also help the business expand its current revenue streams, or even create new ones.