Cloud computing without APIs, is that possible?
Almost no company in the world today conceives cloud services without the existence of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), those connectors that enable the use of data and services by third parties with no cost or scalability problems.
The answer to the question in the title of this article is really simple. What would happen to cloud computing if APIs did not exist? There would be no cloud computing. To be even more clear: Cloud computing today depends almost exclusively on the ability of APIs to connect platforms, services and applications and manage the data that feeds them. And if all those resources are in the cloud, the importance of application development becomes even greater. They are not one more resource for facilitating processes or cutting costs, they are at the core of the entire initiative.
Due to the need of some developers to integrate in the cloud data and services of major companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook or Twitter, these tech giants have been working for some time on improving their APIs, with specific pages for developers and the launch of extensive additional documentation so programmers can make the most of the opportunities afforded by these tools. Structured information in the cloud has become the new hard currency between companies that have applications.
Three types of APIs in the cloud
Today there are three major groups of APIs linked to the cloud:
- Control APIs: Those that manage the infrastructure related to the cloud, sometimes at the initiative of a professional and others through orders programmed based on information on data volume, outages…
- Data APIs: Those that manage the flow of data through the various elements within the cloud or with respect to external elements.
- APIs related to application functionality: The data in the cloud managed by other APIs aims to facilitate specific features for the end products, those that users use, the applications. For example, online purchasing processes, real-time updating elements… They bring life to the product.
These three types of APIs linked to cloud computing are the basis through which many companies have become technology giants today. Not only have they applied a concept where the user is at the core of all the operations, but the entire process is also geared toward developers. Not the developers in their teams, but those who may want to interact with their platforms and their services to offer value to customers.
In this regard, cloud APIs have become an incredible incentive for companies that clearly position themselves within the Software as a Service (SaaS) framework. In the end, the idea is that we have a number of users who consume data and services in the cloud, offered by a third-party company through its application development interfaces, and which are combined with their business applications. This happens with some of the services provided by the giants Amazon or Salesforce, to give just two interesting examples.
Amazon has several cloud computing APIs that enable it to offer to third-party customers from cloud storage (through Amazon Simple Storage Service or S3) to computational capacity in the cloud entirely modifiable based on the customer's needs, as it is scalable (through its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud or EC2 service). EC2 manages all the resources through a control API and the customer just pays for the capacity used. On the other side is Salesforce, which offers several cloud services: an on-demand CMR, marketing services, application creation, products in the Internet of Things market, analytics and business intelligence services…
More infrastructure with greater agility and fewer costs
The second big question about cloud computing APIs is: Which are the companies that need them and why do they turn to providers like Amazon or Salesforce? Many companies show an interest in boosting their growth and volume, and face the need to grow in parallel in terms of infrastructure. But this ambition has two tricky elements:
- Growing in infrastructure sometimes means considering buying equipment, software licenses for in-house installation, refining the entire process to avoid systems that are unstable or have limited capacity to deal with significant increases in traffic on the servers… The process of growing based on increasing the cost in resources can be more expensive, as it affects the profit and loss account. You can spend... and then find out it doesn't work.
- Opting for an SaaS service through APIs can offer huge benefits: The in-house development team just needs to adapt to the scenario posed by the cloud provider’s APIs, and not much else. In most cases, REST APIs that adapt perfectly to market standards in terms of requests and security. Also, in this scenario, scalability and agility are adaptable, so the associated time and costs are also flexible.
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