Integrating a Utility API Strategy Katherine Coyle November 25, 2020 API usage in the modern enterprise has skyrocketed in recent years, with a number of API providers jumping to cover demand. While previously, providers created language-specific SDKs, this method has become outmoded as it does not allow for scaling. This is due to a variety of factors: (1) it is expensive; (2) it only works for one language; (3) it is often tied to a legacy stack of some kind; (4) and its formatting is monolithic and heavy. However, a new, more versatile approach has begun to take root, offering a library of API genres to encourage agile business plans and increased scalability for both small and corporate-level organizations. We believe that going forward, enterprises should be API-led — everything should start with an API. Doing so will increase your business’s productivity, speed, agility, security, and manageability. An effective Utility API strategy is the digital enterprise’s future, with adoption rates expanding rapidly through all sectors. It offers a wide range of solutions that can handle a variety of digital processes. Relying on one vendor to manage your strategy will allow them to include it within the scope of their strict security standards and support preferred deployment to meet your organization’s specific needs. These should always remain as top priorities when considering laying out your API strategy. What Is a Utility API Strategy? A Utility API strategy involves integrating an all-inclusive API platform that provides reusable utility solutions to be applied concurrently throughout your organization’s digital operations. This means you can perform Virus Scanning, Document Conversion, Data Validation, etc. continuously and in parallel with each other, without fear of losing quality or service on any action. Executing a strategy like this could accelerate project and deliverable completion times, increase information security, and standardize organizational output across working groups and teams. With these benefits, if even one team within an organization were to add this strategy into their playbook and are successful, their colleagues will be encouraged to take this knowledge into their next project, increasing overall productivity. For example, if the first project is C#, the second project is Salesforce, and the third project is a mobile app, all can use the same Utility API portfolio. In business, working smarter in this way will always lead to improved efficiency and increased output. This is particularly relevant for organizations with wide-spread or international operations. Whereas, initially, various branches may not effectively collaborate due to compatibility issues, adopting a Utility API approach could improve file-sharing and communication capabilities between different operating systems. Now, there is no need to acquire, learn, integrate, and secure different tech-stack-specific SDKs for each platform that you use. Instead, you can rely on one source to provide all your API needs. Related: 9 Powerful B2B APIs An Agile Approach To truly take advantage of the utility aspect of this approach, an organization can use one API provider to automate processes across its operations. For example, this might look like implementing file conversion API software to standardize document output and speed processing times, while also integrating virus scanning and data validation APIs to boost security surrounding all organizational input. By relying on one API layer to cover all these needs, you can ensure your platform remains compatible in a way that may not be possible when utilizing two or more providers. To aid in this, Utility API Platforms allow you to create layers of APIs that provide standard utilities across your systems. Furthermore, they provide a uniform set of interfaces to standardize your user and internal experience throughout your applications. With standardization, businesses can accelerate development and can more easily match loading and processing speeds between internal teams. Multi-Language Capabilities The benefits of having a Utility API strategy does not end here, however. Different businesses will use the programming language that best fits their needs, and even internally, a company may use several languages depending on the desired output for their operations. Because of this, the best Utility APIs are language-agnostic, allowing for SDKs and functionalities in multiple programming languages, increasing your system versatility. This means that as your business grows and your digital presence evolves, these APIs can grow with you without losing affinity with your programs. It also allows for the application of regular system updates to keep your API connections current. Scalable Deployment Depending on your organization’s size, an effective Utility API strategy should account for the deployment needs essential to running your business effectively. Because of this, when looking for the appropriate API platform to fit your needs, you must consider the scalability and privacy characteristics inherent to each option. Current advances in program deployment allow for a wide range of cloud-based or on-premises services to fit business needs for privacy and capacity. To meet these varied needs, a public cloud option is often the most affordable and is ideal for smaller businesses that do not need large API call capacities. While described as “public,” this kind of service is hosted by the API provider alone and will, therefore, have integrated security features to ensure the safety of your data. The next option would be a private cloud deployment. This choice could provide a higher capacity for usage as an exclusive cloud platform for your organization to use alone. This platform would still be hosted by the API provider but would allow for a higher security level and increased opportunity for expansion as your business grows. For a multi-cloud approach, a Utility API platform should be equipped to deploy in any data center, in any cloud. The final, enterprise-grade solution for larger corporations is on-premises deployment. This is often the most inclusive option and is hosted solely on your organization’s servers. Because of this, on-premises deployment is the most thorough and will keep your data protected both under your own top-level security and that of your API provider. Along with on-premises deployment, all these options should be monitored for security by the API provider. This will ensure increased layers of protection for your organization and your clients’ private information. Implementing your Utility API Strategy With all of this in mind, it is clear that APIs are the next wave in business strategy. Understanding how to best implement them with utility in mind will allow your business to scale exponentially while decreasing your error margin. When investing in developer SDKs and APIs, it’s important to implement a Utility API Strategy that focuses on enterprise-grade scale and flexibility and a wide selection of platform options and APIs to provide a maximum breadth of coverage throughout your applications. Implementing a Utility API strategy will allow you to centralize security, governance, and analytics while standardizing data conversion and delivery throughout your organization. Overall, to exponentially increase your business capabilities, it will provide you with a common platform to accelerate development, reduce cost, improve security, and increase organizational consistency.