Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have enabled enterprise integration at levels simply not possible in traditional point-to-point infrastructure. But there’s a right and wrong way to use APIs. There are clear disadvantages of API-led connectivity that companies must consider as they seek to build a responsive digital infrastructure. Fortunately, an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) solution with a robust API management strategy can help you overcome those risks.
Let’s look at the four biggest challenges associated with custom API development and why businesses are turning to no-code/low-code iPaaS solutions with flexible API management capabilities for enterprise application integration.
Risk #1: Latency and Security Concerns
API-led connectivity is based on building a three-layer architecture encompassing system, process, and experience APIs. However, this multi-layer architecture poses some significant problems if not set up correctly or with a focus on security.
For starters, there are latency concerns to consider when adding layers of APIs on top of existing applications and connectors. This is particularly true when it comes to large data payloads. While there are ways to maintain latency within an API-led system, it requires dedicated IT time and effort to ensure enterprise application integrity.
There are also questions of security – especially for custom-built API integrations. Security gaps can open the door to broken objects, user- and function-level authorization problems, security misconfigurations, and insufficient logging, among other issues. Without security reviews and data governance controls, you’re adding to the surface area of possible security problems.
Risk #2: Development and Implementation Costs
In a survey of more than 150 companies that deployed software based on the three-tiered API-led connectivity strategy, 48 percent cited concerns that the “cost is higher than anticipated.” Estimating the true cost of API-led connectivity is difficult because the development ecosystem is constantly in flux.
In one particularly egregious example, a leading auto manufacturer abandoned its multi-million-dollar investment in API-led connectivity after finding itself more than $1 million over budget, with 500,000 lines of additional code required to launch the system. Despite substantial investment in software and consulting, the company still didn’t have the integrated digital framework it needed.
In this example – and any other enterprise integration situation – APIs still need maintenance as the system grows and evolves. Continuous development and implementation require a growing portion of a company’s tech budget annually.
Risk #3: Extensive IT Labor Required
Hand-in-hand with high development and implementation costs is the workforce time required to configure an API-led system. In an era when tech and IT departments are already overburdened, one of the most significant disadvantages of API-led connectivity revolves around monitoring and maintaining systems.
APIs are designed to be reused. However, this isn’t often the case in many enterprise organizations. Reusability puts less demand put on IT teams. But if reuse is low, developer workload investment rises, pulling technology talent away from more pressing and proactive tasks. For instance, in the auto manufacturer example above, fewer than 40 percent of APIs were being reused. Most APIs the company built and published sat idle and were not reused for additional purposes.
Unused or idle APIs open the door to greater concerns beyond wasted labor. A “bridge to nowhere” API tends to have security concerns and can actively complicate an integration strategy if eventually implemented incorrectly.
Risk #4: Reluctance to Adopt APIs
Like anything that affects broad company operations, API-led integration requires C-suite buy-in. Unfortunately, many API advocates aren’t getting it. The reason? Legacy integration practices might be “good enough” at the moment. Unless there is a tech-savvy citizen developer advocate influencing top-level leaders, the mindset tends to be: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” That top-down reluctance to make the shift often snuffs out API-led efforts.
Even with executive advocates, many enterprises face resistance to adopting API-led connectivity. There’s a tendency for teams to cling to control over specific integrations. They also may see API-led connectivity as limiting or overly complex. This argument is actually the best example of why many companies eventually forgo API-led connectivity and adopt an iPaaS.
Overcoming API Challenges With iPaaS
After understanding the chief disadvantages of API-led connectivity, the question becomes how to avoid them. How can companies orchestrate an integration strategy while maintaining latency and security, reducing development and implementation costs, promoting proper API utilization, and garnering stakeholder support? The answer: iPaaS.
While APIs are indisputably useful in connecting enterprise software, iPaaS introduces higher efficiency and reliability. An iPaaS goes beyond simple integration, helping companies map business goals back to integrations and delivering data governance, workflow automation, electronic data interchange (EDI) capabilities and more.
An iPaaS solution doesn’t force companies to predict their future needs or constantly monitor enterprise connections. Instead, it offers the flexibility and agility to expand the integration network as needed, with minimal cost and labor.
Explore iPaaS as an API-Led Alternative
APIs have a place in any organization, and they enable powerful synergies. But instead of API-led connectivity, companies should first consider the efficiencies of optimizing APIs within an iPaaS solution that gives them the flexibility they need to succeed on their terms. With lower costs, easier implementation, seamless scaling, and a security-first design, iPaaS can help companies experience what they want API-led connectivity to be – and see quicker results.
To learn more about iPaaS and how it can optimize enterprise integration efforts beyond the capabilities of API-led connectivity, check out our whitepaper, Simplifying API-led Connectivity.