Software Integration, from now until future ending

The past was promising

Take a look at the successful businesses around you. All of them are highly dependent on the supporting software applications, no question. But as time goes on and technologies evolve frequently, organizations invariably end up with software built with mixed technologies and from multiple vendors.

All these dissimilar software applications are often in need of working with each other, and this is where software integration comes in to assist. By talking to business owners and IT people, you can see a range of requirements for software integration. Typically, they need to accomplish one of the following goals

  • Produce a unified set of functionalities, for example, a unified customer support system
  • Increase productivity by reducing the need to switch among applications
  • Easier user adoption, especially if the integrated application is new
  • Enable data analytics by getting data from multiple sources
  • Automate data entry — getting data from some other app is less costly than manual data entry

As days go by, with the addition of more and more software systems and the wider spread of internal and external networks, home-grown solutions were no longer suitable. Evolution of software integration had reached a new level. The motto “no system is an island” became common, but — on those days — there was still no standard solution to the problem.

For some decades, enterprise integration technologies have used one or more integration strategies. The first integration model was remote procedure call (RPC), used in single-language environments and very popular in the 1980s and early 1990s. Later, multilingual systems such as CORBA appeared. These used an explicit Interface Definition Language (IDL), so that the caller and called party could be implemented in different programming languages and even on different platforms.

Over time, the use of application programming interfaces, better known as APIs, became the standard. APIs emerged to provide business functionality provided by one application to other applications. APIs exist to be reusable: the concept has been, from the beginning, that multiple applications could consume the same API. The idea was that developers could depend solely on the API to access the functionality of an application without worrying about the details of its implementation.

API Management — growing pushes new layers

When developers start using an API, they see it as a contractual agreement that will not change. However, APIs are vulnerable to the same pressures for change that all software systems are sensitive to. They are often updated, reworked, and sometimes refactored. When this is the case, finding the real points of change in the API and getting things working again is a painstaking job for developers. That’s why API lifecycle management came into the picture.

Developers also expect to have to manage as few APIs as possible. This is because each new API represents a new learning curve and implies time and effort. In addition, when encountering the upgrade issues we have mentioned, the developer knows that it will help to have few APIs and few cross-dependencies, so as to not fall into spaghetti boilerplate.

This is what API management is all about: API lifecycle management for multiple APIs.

As a result of high demand, API management via middleware has come up as a way to use APIs and achieve their benefits, while bypassing their drawbacks. Keep in mind that we are looking at API management from the viewpoint of the API consumer. If you look at it as an API producer, the approach will be different.

SQL to the rescue

Ideas are being developed as middleware that can remove the need to call APIs directly. Instead, the developer may write SQL in their new or legacy code, and then this middleware uses its connectors and logic to translate the standard SQL syntax in that code into API calls.

These calls fetch the necessary information from the end system. The middleware acts as a transformer that speaks all the API variants that developers may need, translating them into the standard ANSI SQL syntax that the developer knows well and can use in conjunction with their favorite programming language, such as Python, Java or C#, to name some.

By using this translator middleware, developers no longer have to learn a new programming language or get experience with the target system’s API. This makes all the difference, as it dramatically cuts down on the time and effort required to integrate the software.

So, the options are set
You can build your own custom integration software in the programming language of your choice or start from the source code of any software from the last 40 years.
In both cases, completing the integration will take only a few lines of code and will be pretty painless.
Using this type of middleware also means that there is no code refactoring when the target system or its APIs are upgraded. From now on, the middleware job is to handle all the maintenance efforts.
API management offers companies greater flexibility by allowing them to opt for the software integrations they need, while protecting them from the downsides and not compromising security, for example, by maintaining GDPR compliance.

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