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.