The inception of ESB and its benefit
At the beginning of the millennium, what we saw was the first cross-platform protocol for interfaces. While the internet together with HTTP became ubiquitous, XML limped its way into existence. On the other hand, exposing synchronous web service interfaces through SOAP protocols was just taking shape.
All these hinted at a future where the relatively wide acceptance of these standards would enable systems to find and interact with one another through real-time synchronous remote procedure call, without the reams of integration code a practice followed in the past.
Traditional software-based middleware solutions have long been used in enterprise integration for connecting client-facing applications to important back-end systems and resources. They act as a central hub for all enterprise IT, where organizations could just connect the endpoints of the tools to the service bus and then let the middleware take care of the integration. However, real-time communication between systems would have been incomplete without API.
The inception of API and its benefit
API or the Application Programming Interface refers to a set of tools, routines or protocols used for building applications. It informs the software how to interact. The importance of API dates back in the 1970s at the time of distributed systems. Various methods emerged that allowed remote access to the procedural API, bypassing the typical programmer overhead through data packing and unpacking that are required for interoperation between different kinds of computers.
The benefits of Software API stretch out in ways more than one. API enables integration with heterogeneous systems and data to bring new business models, products, and services to the forefront.
It is the gateway to accessing data from a given application without using the application interface. APIs enable several services to communicate with each other and other existing business systems, thereby exposing information silos and opening up new possibilities for data integration.
Does this mean the end of middleware integration solutions?
Not really. Gartner states both API and integration as indispensable to one another. While platforms like the ESB facilitate tool integrations with the help of adapters, APIs within the adapters allows moving data smoothly from the tools by simply calling out the endpoints. Hence, APIs bring a completely new dimension to middleware integration and data migration.
As a result, despite the fact that the integration runtime performs two separate jobs -bidirectional data movement from/to the tools and data routing across the tools – there was a time when integration runtime was often referred to as an ESB.
ESB is not just about exposing data from tools. It often involves significant re-engineering that aligns the back-end systems with business needs. The ultimate objective is to integrate applications and align it with business needs.
This would require ESB implementation without the need for deep integration. So that every time an integration is done and exposed as a service, it is reusable by the ESB platform.
APIs working model in today’s world
API make data integration easier by defining stable and simplified access to application data and implementation. In case of Web APIs, the business data and implementations are exposed over the internet. End users can reuse the popular API consumption models available in the market.
Unlike traditional middleware software, APIs make sure that the application interface is protected from unrelated changes. This is done through the implementation of API proxies that decouples the app-facing API from the back-end services and shields them from backend code changes. Therefore, as you make backend changes to the service, the apps continue to call the same API without any interruption.
An API consists of two primary components –Proxy Endpoint and Target Endpoint.
- Proxy Endpoints: define the way of consuming API is the key. In case of web API, you can configure the Endpoint by defining the URL of API proxy using http or https. The Proxy Endpoints are usually attached with policies to enforce data validation, other access control, and types of rate limiting.
- Target Endpoints: define how an API will interact with the backend service. The Target Endpoints are configured for forwarding requests to backend service. This also includes HTTP / HTTPS protocol, security settings, and other connection information. Policies can be implemented on these target endpoints, thereby ensuring all response messages are formatted for the app that made the request.
API also supports fast and robust runtime actions. Integrating with third parties and making internal legacy systems outward facing opens you to cyber threats. An effective API strategy ensures that your backend record systems are safe and secure.
With an API and ESB together, enterprises don’t have to think of ripping and replacing their legacy systems or integrations. If an all-cloud or enterprise infrastructure is eventually needed, API and ESB make it flexible and scalable enough to make the transition.
To conclude, API initiatives require integration technologies and API-enabled technologies are the key components needed in a strategic integration infrastructure.