Why a multi-function iPaaS is the future of APIs

APIs are the answer to many of your digital transformation questions. But the answer to many of your API questions is a multi-function iPaaS. Get the four insights that can guide your API-led integration journey.  

Introduction: APIs and integration in the digital era

If you’re a business leader today—whatever the industry—chances are your customers’ needs are changing. The advance of the digital-first economy, the rise of mobile commerce, and a pandemic that irreversibly altered the rhythms of daily life, have coalesced into a whirlwind of consumer expectations. Customers today are more digitally savvy. They’re shifting their transactions—and their lives—to their devices. They’re looking for consistent, intelligent, interactions with their favorite brands—and expect them to know who they are and what they desire.

From an IT perspective, this demands new ways of managing information. Increasingly, businesses are moving away from traditional enterprise IT systems—many of them decades old—that were simply not designed to interact with customers through their devices. They’re retiring old hardware and applications and replacing them with SaaS solutions that support interactions across multiple channels—and better capture increasingly valuable data. They’re modernizing legacy and custom applications—and becoming leaner—by moving them from on-premises to the cloud. And they’re laser-focused on delivering their customers new experiences—and enabling business and IT to become true innovation partners.

For many firms, the heroes of this transformation are APIs: the digital emissaries connecting applications, databases, and devices—which enable the interactivity that your customers have come to take for granted. Thanks to APIs, IT managers can make sense of data that is scattered across different environments, and firms can shift their applications to the cloud without disrupting everyday transactions. APIs empower automation. They drive digital business. And they’re everywhere: according to one 2019 study, they make up 83% of all internet traffic. 

Toward a multi-function future

APIs, though, aren’t the entire story. Most companies eying transformation still operate legacy and custom applications that have supported their business processes successfully for many years and cannot be easily replaced. Integrating these core enterprise systems—or moving them to the cloud—requires a mix of APIs and other technologies: from hybrid integration workflows and microservices to data integration for the cloud, B2B gateways and managed file transfers. In your journey toward connectivity, APIs are like a cargo jet: they’ll get your goods to the end of the runway, but they won’t carry them over that all-important final mile. You still need the cargo handler, the delivery truck—even the forklift for large bundles. In other words, the key to integration today, and for the foreseeable future, remains embracing multifunctionality. 

To help you better navigate this world of multifunctionality, here is a handful of insights—based on the current trends in the API and integration market and how it has evolved over the past few years. Below, we’ll walk you through the tools, capabilities, pricing models, and user experiences you’ll want to consider as you chart the future of your IT landscape and forge the connectivity you need to innovate and grow your business. You’ll also get a sneak peak at our own solutions, including webMethods.io: an industry-leading multi-function iPaaS that makes integrating everything—applications, clouds, mainframe systems, and even IoT devices—easier than ever. 

Four insights to guide your API-led integration journey

Are you looking to improve connectivity to innovate and grow your business? The following principles and market trends can put you on a better path and prepare you to make the most of your API and integration quest. 

1. We’re living in an API-first era. But they won’t do the job alone 

If you’re an IT leader facing pressure to innovate, it’s likely you’ve embraced a simple fact: APIs are indispensable. Not only do they enable systems foreign to each other to “talk;” in doing so, they dramatically simplify app development—and the ability of business and IT teams to collaborate. It’s no wonder their use keeps rising: in a 2022 survey by our research partners VansonBourne, 98% of IT decision makers said APIs were “extremely” or “very” important to their enterprise’s operations. 85% reported using APIs in all or the majority of their innovation projects.

Simply ramping up your use of APIs, however, won’t guarantee business success—or a first-rate customer experience. APIs that are poorly managed can expose companies to hacks and other security risks. Organizations using APIs often struggle to manage product upgrades and lifecycles and attract skilled developers. APIs are most valuable to companies when they’re standardized in a way that helps developers modularly, repeatedly, and quickly combine data and functionality to create new products and services. They also work best when deployed alongside other tools of integration. Developers, after all, aren’t only concerned with the latest shiny customer-facing apps; they also need to integrate core enterprise systems, from ERPs to supply chain management, that are often embedded deeply in the IT landscape.  

Companies are also increasingly drawn to the reusability and agility of microservices architectures—which are accelerating time to market of new products. And they’re ever on the lookout for new ways to move data throughout their digital backbone—to deliver analytics that help leaders make better decisions.  

All of these functions are critical to enabling continuous innovation. That's why a pragmatic approach to APIs and integration is key - one that aligns with business priorities - and your iPaaS should be able to support that. 

2. The destination is the cloud. But the foreseeable future is hybrid 

If you’re like most IT managers today, your head is likely in the cloud: in a 2021 survey by O’Reilly, 90% of global enterprises reported using cloud computing, and nearly half said they planned to migrate 50% or more of their applications to the cloud in the coming year. Increasingly, companies are turning to hyperscalers: cloud providers with the global scale, and deep expertise, to help turbo charge innovation.

The growth of the cloud market is for good reason: increased cloud adoption enables reduced capital investment and can vastly improve time to market of new products. Yet cloud migration is not a fix-all solution: most businesses have sunk investments in large scale core systems—often on-premises—that have run successfully for many years. In this environment, given the pressure to innovate, big bang migrations are neither feasible nor desirable. Often, firms migrating too quickly are forced to backtrack: research by IHS Markit found 74% of companies had moved a cloud-based application back on premises after they’d failed to achieve expected returns.  

Even if your organization is committed to cloud adoption, completing the process could take years—if not decades. Your integration strategy, therefore, should be premised on the fact that the foreseeable future is hybrid: that new products and services will continue to be built separately from core enterprise systems.   

The best way to stay connected while doing this? Deploy your integration systems in a cloud agnostic hybrid environment—like an iPaaS. According to Vanson Bourne, most enterprises are now taking this approach. In their survey, 75% of organizations reported using hybrid integration systems.  Just 14% reported using on-premises integration systems only, and 10% reported running systems solely in the cloud. 

3. Pricing and user experience are changing too  

Growing market pressure to innovate is likely changing the way your company makes IT investments: for most enterprises, the days of large up-front IT purchases are slowly coming to an end. Firms, instead, are seeking flexibility: innovation, after all, means experimentation. IT leaders want the ability to try out new products and services and subsequently scale up use, or cancel, based on delivered value. Most cloud services and SaaS applications now offer pay-per-use subscription models that take the risk out of embracing IT changes. A multifunction iPaaS provides similar flexibility for integrations:  you can pay as you go and scale up without restrictions.  

The rise of this more flexible cost model, along with the shift toward low or no code cloud-based IT solutions, means the technical needs of users is also changing. Integration platforms used to demand highly trained specialists, with a deep knowledge of the nuts and bolts of entire backend systems. Increasingly, API and integration tools need to be accessible to non-technical staff who expect them to “just work.” For most, that’s an iPaaS that delivers a simple, intuitive, and high-quality experience that ordinary users can trust to keep their mission-critical applications connected.  

4. Task-specific tools are converging into single platforms  

As an IT leader looking to make the most of digitalization, a successful integration strategy entails mastery of multiple dimensions. As we’ve already discussed, innovation demands an alchemy of APIs, core systems integration, microservices, and data. It means operating on premises and in the cloud; supporting non-technical users and integration specialists; and employing mobile-first and SaaS solutions alongside aging workhorse legacy systems. Above all, it means enabling old and new to work together, seamlessly.   

Organizations have long been moving away from task-specific integration tools, toward hybrid platforms that embrace these different forms of connectivity. Now, as the center of gravity shifts toward a low or no code cloud-first approach, the case for a single multi-function platform is stronger than ever. Not only does a multifunction iPaaS combine the key dimensions of APIs and integration into a single user experience; it will also enable your enterprise to launch new business models, products, and services faster than ever. 

Toward a connected future—with webMethods

What if you could have all these API, integration, microservices and B2B capabilities at your fingertips? At Software AG, we believe your best bet for meeting all your API and integration needs is through a multi-function integration platform as-a-service—better known as iPaaS. Designed for all types of users, from business analysts to integration specialists, an iPaaS acts like an all-access ticket to a smorgasbord of tools to improve automation and maximize your productivity. Your team will spend less time integrating platforms and more time developing new products. Above all, you’ll simplify the essential work of creating a connected IT ecosystem.  

webMethods.io has been designed to help you unlock innovation that’s possible only when your digital ecosystem is connected. As standalone solutions, our webMethods suite of products compete as market leaders across a range of categories: full lifecycle API management, application integration suites, B2B gateway software, managed file transfer suites, and iPaaS. The continued evolution of our on-premises and cloud offerings has kept us at the top of the business—with regular rankings as market leaders from top industry analysts like Forrester (Wave) and Gartner (Magic Quadrant). 

webMethods: Automating the Connected Enterprise

The Software AG iPaaS advantage

Our true competitive advantage, however, reveals itself not in a single product, but in the full breadth and depth of our portfolio. That’s why we’re especially excited to introduce you to the webMethods.io multi-function iPaaS: a single cloud-based platform that gives you access to all API and integration use cases across on-premises, edge, and multi-cloud environments. It lets anyone in your organization—not just IT professionals—seamlessly connect cloud-based SaaS applications with legacy ESB implementations and your enterprise architecture. It comes with out-of-the-box connectors to enable instant connectivity to popular SaaS apps. It’s backed by Software AG’s rich ecosystem of users, system integrators, technology partners, and product companies, whose collective experiences and insights bring those new to the platform even greater value.    

Above all, webMethods’ suite of API and integration products will help you organize your IT infrastructure and processes to support innovation, deliver a better customer experience, and fuel growth.  

Is your company ready to thrive in this era of transformation? We invite you to learn more about our industry-leading API, integration, and microservices solutions and how they can help you stay one step ahead.   

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