Avoid The Custom App Trap With APIs

Avoid The Custom App Trap With APIs

SUMMARY: Easy to iterate with a modest initial investment, developing an API platform using one of the major cloud providers is an affordable way to not only control your business data, but leverage it for better business intelligence. APIs will also allow you to reduce your dependence on 3rd party standalone software costs. Additionally, enterprise data management tools are available on demand from the major cloud providers, and are an affordable way to get significant benefits and you pay as you go so it’s very affordable to get started. The APIs already offered through your existing software providers are a good way to start API adoption, a cheap way to extend and unsilo your business data across multiple software platforms. Whether you use Google, Microsoft, or Amazon – the major providers offer comprehensive, and affordable API development and management tools, which can frequently be a more secure and lower cost alternative to application development.

APIs can be affordably and securely developed now on all the major cloud platforms. APIs offer well-defined, secure connections, and now you don’t even require a server to run and manage sophisticated business ‘functions’ via API, which have heretofore been handled by apps.

API development comes with simple tools for security and IT productivity, the development process is much better suited to small, iterative steps compared to traditional app development where heavy traditional server stacks have to be built out before anything can happen. Server considerations aren’t eliminated in an API platform, but small investments can yield productive improvements to your day to day business operations.

With the latest API development and integration offerings from Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, small business can now affordably invest in API development with an eye to enrich, integrate, and replace your current business apps.

API Does More With Less

The first thing to look at when considering APIs for your company, is look to use them to cheaply extend the value of the software investments you have already made. Whether customer management, accounting, logistics – think of APIs initially as small connectors that can allow big leverage in your operations. Also, starting by extending the core business systems your staff is already trained on, can reduce transition and training costs.

Ask yourself: Is the app a fundamental part of what we are or what we’re selling? If not think API over App.

API is Faster, Cheaper, Better

APIs offer a real opportunity for better data speed cheaply. If your on-premises servers and cloud database servers are slowing your operations down, managing your own API platform can mean significantly faster data interchange rate than traditional application server environments. For example the Node server environment, using a standard MEAN stack, a popular and affordable stack to manage an API, is several magnitudes faster than traditional stack application servers. For businesses with a need for speed APIs are a real productive tool.

Both operations and capital budgets can be cut with cloud adoption. Because API development is by definition built on existing platforms it can enrich and extend your existing software and hardware investments. Additionally, hardware costs and maintenance will be significantly cut with a typical initial cloud adoption. You can incrementally build an API platform exploring the most typical ‘ROI potential’ use cases – ie security, reporting, transactions, and CRM.

From a data security and management perspective managing an API offers much better monitoring and alerting tools than traditional app development. Compliance level logging for example becomes much more affordable and manageable with APIs vs apps. Typical cloud billing for API usage allows for more flex server environments, and this definitely can make a dent in the monthly cloud costs vs app servers in production.

Quickly Create an API Monitoring Set Up On Google Cloud Platform

API quick start for business owners

Why APIs? The boring answer is that current cloud service providers now offer API services at cost points much less than typical custom app development. Cloud services are built so you can securely and productively own your core business data via APIs alone if you want. Think of your mission critical data currently stored in 3rd party software systems you’ve already paid form – accounting, CRM, docs, etc. Leveraging the standard tools from the major cloud providers you can leverage these investments, and truly own your data with a homegrown API. Cloud API security come standard with enterprise level IAM tools for better granularity in their core business information management. APIs allow you to really truly own your own data, securely, and provide access securely as you need it.

Which cloud provider to choose? For most business it really doesn’t matter which one you pick on starting out. Take stock of your existing software and hardware investments. Do you use Gsuite, Microsoft Office, or Amazon storage already? Training your staff (and yourself) on new cloud tools is an issue that needs to be considered, and there are easy ‘cloud wins’ on top of the standard business apps:

Gsuite – Google APIs, Google Cloud SQL and Gsuite
Microsoft – Microsoft Graph APIs, Microsoft 365, and Exchange Server
Amazon – Amazon API gateway, internally managed IT, Amazon EC2

Where Apps Start Fading Into The Sunset

Serverless computing is where an investment in your own API can make an immediate impact. Serverless computing is a simple API engine that seeks to connect existing web services automatically. Serverless offers a number of advantages, both security and productivity wise, and all the major cloud providers in 2020 offer serverless functions as part of their offerings, whether Google, Microsoft, or Amazon.

Serverless computing with a simple API strategy provides a low risk high reward investment for businesses not only seeking better alternative to app development, but also to leverage enterprise data management solutions which can be utilized on demand from the major cloud service providers.

Serverless Cloud Services by Provider Include:

  • Amazon – Lambda
  • Google – Google Cloud Functions
  • Microsoft – Azure Serverless Computing

Create Serverless Functions simply on Google Cloud Platform

So Are Apps RIP?

Fret not app makers and lovers. Apps will continue drive internal and external business systems worldwide. But at the lower end of business app use cases API development can securely replace custom apps more securely at lower cost. In many instances from an internal perspective moving from an app centered backend to an API, the end user – employee & customer – doesn’t have to have their UI change at all. But under the hood your API engine provides a more powerful, more secure, and more manageable process for business growth and savings.

What’s more, the major cloud providers offer simple API development tools so that you can future proof and extend your own custom apps with their own API. This best of both worlds scenario allow you to manage and run custom apps on the cloud connected to your own APIs. This can allow for more creative and innovative app development, since the APIs control the requirements and the logic, it’s easier to test new features and functions for your custom apps.

App Code Management Tools On Google Cloud Platform

Add Some API Arrows To Your Arsenal

When somebody says we need an app for this, reply but what about an API instead? API integrations can typically do what you need an app to do, and with significantly less cost and maintenance than typical custom app development. Additionally, once built an API platform provides a significant number of data operations tools that can help you create a real-time business operations metrics dashboard exactly the way you want it.

API vs APP: It’s No Contest

In this cloud stuffed world, API development offers significant security, simplicity, and productivity benefits over traditional app development. Bottom line, applications require servers and all the issues that go with managing servers, most importantly perhaps the app server security issues when handling sensitive customer and sales information. APIs on the other hand merely offer structured connections, and do not require (eventually) a server to run and manage sophisticated business ‘applications.’

When the cloud took over the business world, apps were the first stars. Dull APIs, sure, they were given new life too in the cloud, but until now have toiled in the shadows these past few years. Today they are ready to step out and claim the cloud for themselves; small business can affordably invest in API development for better customer services, transaction/payment management, employee management, just to name a few easy examples.

Why API over APP?

You already own the cloud services right now most likely. Meaning your core business systems can probably already do that.

Application development is annoying. Is an app a fundamental part of what you’re selling? If not and you just want to get in front of your customers in a way that’s convenient for everybody, time think API over App.

API is Faster, Cheaper, Better:

  • API in a full JS environment (MEAN, MERN, etc) mean faster speed in real time.
  • API development is by definition built on existing platforms, you are never developing from scratch (unless you want to and even then custom API development is much cheaper than custom App dev, usually.)
  • API is better security management than app dev, again in most instances. Just by the data and access validation requirements if nothing else. API usage allows for more flex server environments, and this definitely can make a dent in the monthly server costs vis a vis app servers.

APIs quick start for small business

Why APIs? Now you can securely and productively own your core business data. How many small businesses manage their mission critical business data in a 3rd party software system – accounting, CRM, inbox 😉 – and could be using APIs for better granularity in their core business information management in a secure fashion. APIs allow you to really truly own your own data, with the existing API platforms accessible, small business owners have the way forward to owning all your data.

When staring with APIs start at the core – Gsuite, Microsoft, Amazon – there are profitable API use cases available to you included in your monthly that you are not aware of. Search:

  1. Gsuite – Google APIs, Google Cloud SQL and Gsuite
  2. Microsoft – Microsoft Graph APIs, Microsoft 365, and Exchange Server
  3. Amazon – Amazon API gateway, internally managed IT, Amazon EC2

The API promised land, where App fades into the sunset

Why has APIs time truly come? 2 words: severless computing. Serverless computing is a simple API engine that seeks to connect existing web services. Serverless computing has a number of advantages for small business, both security and productivity wise. Once serverless computing gets to the mainstream (mid to late 2019?) apps will devolve as add ons provided by your core small business systems provider, whether Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.

APIs offer small business a chance to finally own their own data on the cloud, which with the advent of serverless computing, provides a low risk high reward investment for small businesses to leverage APIs for enterprise solutions at a small business level monthly.

Serverless Cloud Services to Investigate:

  • Amazon – Lambda
  • Google – Google Cloud Functions
  • Microsoft – Azure Serverless Computing

So Is App RIP?

No. Don’t fret app makers and app lovers. Everyday apps drive internal and external business systems worldwide, and will continue to do so. For the end user – employee and customer – there won’t be an apparent changes at all. It’s only when you pop open the hood and look underneath API engines provide a more powerful, more secure, and more manageable process for business growth and savings.

Zen and the art of small business data

At some point you have to take control of your business data. 3rd party cloud software costs can easily rival or surpass their standalone counterparts. Additionally, new tools coming on the business cloud software market make APIs look very attractive to small business currently. An investment in APIs through your pimary business systems provider – Google, Microsoft, Amazon – are a good way to begin to see what APIs can do for your business.

Wring More Sales From Your Gmail Inbox

Email Extractor https://emailextract.pro/ is a cheap and powerful program to quickly scan and capture email addresses in your Gmail inbox. A free version is available but pretty much worthless as it only allows for 500 records return. But the paid version is affordably priced at $29 per user annually, and $299 unlimited users annually:

Email Address Extractor

The app uses both the Gmail and Gdrive API which means you’re not running any of your information through a 3rd party server. The app works directly in Google Sheets as an Add-on. It’s a simple search based interface to collect and organize your Gmail emails into a simple spreadsheet in Gdrive. This also makes for pretty fast search processing. But expect to wait a few minutes when extracting larger inboxes the first time.

The multiple search filtering functions are what really makes this app powerful:

Advanced search filters:

  1. Email Address Fields
  2. Gmail Fields
  3. Subject Line
  4. Body keyword/phrase search
  5. Advanced Search (Accepts standard advanced search operators, eg From:Paypal)

The subsequent search results will appear in a Google Sheet containing two sheets, all emails and a cleaned list of unique emails only.

For those looking for a new marketing list affordably, this program is well worth the investment.

 

 

 

MYSQL 8 – Stable Meets Speed

Revamped by Oracle to compete against speedy NoSQL competitors, MySQL 8 is a significant step up in speed and performance, both ingress and egress. Here’s a recent testing done in January with MySQL 8 vs MySQL 5.7 from Several Nines, a DB infrastructure service company. (MySQL 5.7 is basically the standard cloud MySQL version, Google’s Cloud SQL product runs a flavor of MySQL 5.7)

https://severalnines.com/blog/mysql-performance-benchmarking-mysql-57-vs-mysql-80

There are tons of improvements that are present in MySQL 8.0. The benchmark results reveals that there has been an impressive improvement, not only on managing read workloads, but also on a high read/write workload comparing to MySQL 5.7.

But be aware the single instance installs of MySQL will need tweaking before it can beat 5.7, and MySQL 8 really starts to perform better when using multiple instances. For instance this Packt Pub test shows MySQL 8 pulls away at the 3 instance environment.

https://hub.packtpub.com/top-10-mysql-8-performance-benchmarking-aspects-to-know/

MySQL 8 has the power to be a real time back office operations engine, and has a lot of new features including security and access management tools.

https://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/8.0/en/mysql-nutshell.html

And What About Data Privacy of Small Business on Facebook?

Who cares about the data of millions of consumers, perhaps more valuable still is the data Facebook harvests from small business every second. Adding a Facebook pixel to your site and pressing the Advanced button means you open up your site to basically complete monitoring by Facebook. What do they do exactly with the data they collect from the millions of small businesses? What can they do, what can’t they do? Small business should consider a Facebook audit and review their privacy settings.

The ultimate problem one can easily foresee with all this data Facebook has collected from millions of small business is, who cares if your company makes sure to do due diligance on the Facebook privacy settings, giving Facebook only the data you are comfortable sharing? Because literally thousands of other small businesses like yours have already given away their data. Facebook doesn’t really need your data to sell your competitor insights into your customer that you would like to keep to yourself.

But of course with the Facebook Insights tool you can glean in aggregate a lot of interesting market/industry wide business intelligence relevant to your business planning? 😉

Hyper targeting is the promised land for Facebook advertising, but the problem is, or the limit to Facebook’s ambitions in the end perhaps is that human beings really aren’t that complicated. Once your company figures out its core targets with all the usual tools – internal sales data, test marketing, site analytics, andFacebook’s Insights Tool also 😉 then maybe Facebook small business data won’t quite put small business out of business. But certainly as a small business owner of a Facebook marketing investing company you should spend a few minutes making sure your company’s Facebook privacy settings are where you want them.

Especially companies using Facebook Pixel, a popular remarketing strategy on Facebook, take a minute to protect your company’s information and make sure you are sharing valuable company site data in the way that you are comfortable with.

 

5 Ways To Profit From Cloud Right Now For SMB

The word of the day for SMB considering migrate to the cloud is iterate. In layman’s terms, baby steps. Don’t think you have to move all or even a large piece of your business systems to the clouds in one fell swoop. Rather, take cloud progress in small manageable bites that allow you and your staff to digest without any upset. For SMB decision makers here’s 5 areas where taking cloud steps now can make an immediate impact on your bottom line. Whether using Amazon, Microsoft, Google or another cloud provider these areas are good place to start your research for potential cloud migrations:

  1. Backup, Access, and Security: Due to the remote nature of cloud data storage and management, cloud services always come with default tools  for backup, access control, and security measures such as custom firewalls.
  2. Connect and Integrate: SMB typically has several software system investments and databases. Perhaps the most appealing for SMB looking at cloud, integrating your various software systems, and connecting overlapping data (customers, transactions, sales) can create significant productivity and cost savings.
  3. Real Time Reporting: SMB can get customized reports, and customized data in those reports to access levels you create. Take accounting, billing, payments, projects, and sales together in one report, and get the business intel you need for agile day to day business management.
  4. Smart & Easy Apps: All cloud services provide easy visual builder app tools to help connect to customers, teams, and projects. If your business processes are unique and hard to fit into traditional CRM or billing software systems, simple cloud apps can cheaply allow you to customize your business flow.
  5. Marketing, Sales, and Service: Cloud services allow for you to consolidate your marketing and sales, get better reporting, and provide tools and services for existing clients and customers.