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API and ESB platforms should work well in an evolutionary API strategy model

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The need to adapt to new business models and engage customers through new digital channels shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at this point. However, the pressure is building across all industries for incumbent enterprises to undergo digital transformation before disruptors erode their long-standing market share.

Large enterprises have sunk millions of dollars into a service-oriented architecture and enterprise service buses (ESBs) to meet past customer demands, leaving them with a complex programmatically driven architecture of interconnected legacy systems. To deliver new solutions quickly, you may need to consider what an API strategy has to offer to enhance delivering digital services to the business.

Why Your ESB Isn’t Ready for the Digital Revolution

ESBs emerged as an essential technology for their ability to orchestrate backend systems and services, such as CRM systems, financial databases, human resources, and other systems of record.

Their exposure-centric focus aimed to stabilize organizations by clearly defining business processes across legacy systems. While ESBs served their purpose and were able to reduce costs for many incumbent organizations, focusing on backend integration and orchestration won’t necessarily lead to digital transformation success.

The following characteristics are some complex and time impact characteristics:

  • Code-centric: ESBs are defined by complex coding for legacy systems integration. This is great for stability, but not friendly to mobile app developers who are trying to help your digital transformation efforts.
  • Slow by nature: The fact that ESB runtime must take full scale composition and degrees of statefulness is a design feature of the execution engine. This is what keeps the backend running smoothly despite such intricate connections between systems. However, ESB runtime design makes it very difficult to optimize for throughput.
  • Internally focused: Digital transformation implies a deeper level of third-party integration, regardless of the project you’re executing. ESBs don’t provide external threat protection that is necessary for security and new digital solutions.
  • Complex management: Your legacy systems require specially trained employees for management and maintenance. The cost of overhauling ESB-integrated systems would be significant when consider time and costs associated with delivering digital services.

If you’re looking to succeed with digital transformation, you need a simple, fast, and secure way to access, model and present using open standards the functionality in the target systems so you can better-enable transaction processing between various aspects of your business. An effective API strategy is a perfectly safe choice today to consider.

How APIs Enable Your Digital Transformation—Without Overhauling the Business

 Adopting an effective API strategy is a great approach to accelerate your digital transformation initiatives from potentially weeks or months to just days.

The ability of an API strategy to accelerate your digital transformation rests on the stark contrast between yesterday’s ESBs and today’s APIs:

  • Consumption-centric: The main purpose of APIs is to connect digital frontend user interfaces with your systems of record. They are consumption-centric because they aim to make it easier for app developers to work with core business systems.
  • Rooted in agility: The stability of ESBs is essential, but APIs have an agile focus that can help you adapt quickly to customer demands. And, because APIs don’t replace ESBs, the two can co-exist.
  • Fast to adopt new business models: When considering that many companies across industries are considering the impact of emerging digital services exchanges and technology based organizations such as Fin Techs and payment offerings and processes such as Bitcoin or Blockchain it is necessary that your API strategy can quickly address an Open Standard based exchange format.
  • Security in mind: API runtimes are designed to be fast, secure, robust and scalable. As you integrate with third parties and make your internal legacy systems more outward-facing, you’re opening yourself up to a world of cyber threats. With an effective API strategy, you can ensure your backend systems of record are safe. 

At first glance, this discussion seems like a decision you have to make between ESBs and APIs. However, you most likely already have a well-established ESB and simply removing it is not an option from a stability or ROI standpoint. You can take an evolutionary approach with an API strategy versus a revolutionary approach.

If your digital transformation initiatives involve legacy systems (which is the case for any enterprise that has been in business for a decade or more), using and open standards API approach will provide you with greater agility to deliver new digital solutions.

Learn more about how OpenLegacy can help you succeed with your digital transformation initiatives. Download our white paper, How OpenLegacy Tackles Core (Legacy) Challenges using API Software

Tags: ESB, API Integration, API Strategy

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