Getting out of obsolete systems – How APIs enable the modernization of technologies

Faced with the persistent situation observed over the past two years, companies around the world have had to undergo a rapid digital transformation in order to present a new digitized version of themselves to their stakeholders.

However, the adoption of new technologies and new business models often comes up against outdated or unsuitable legacy systems that act as a barrier to digital dynamism. According to a recent study published by GetApp, 31% of companies intend to replace their software because the existing systems no longer meet the needs of the company.

The problem is that it is not always possible to carry out a global or even very targeted replacement of technologies, either because the budgets do not allow it, or even because the existing technology is so rooted in the current infrastructure or processes that any change is extremely complex. It is difficult in these conditions for certain companies to adopt new solutions.

This is where application programming interfaces can bridge the transformation gap. APIs offer new communication capabilities to existing systems and can open new perspectives when modern systems are implemented. Not only can they help actively transform IT architecture, but they can also integrate with an existing system to minimize business disruption. However, without a consistent level of quality, a software interface is useless. To meet this need, an API Gateway is required. It is an upstream program that serves as a single entry point for the defined back-end APIs and microservices (which can be both internal and external).

The latter is essential to the process because it helps to guarantee the performance, availability and scalability of APIs by allowing companies to ensure the availability of their services with uniform levels of support, particularly with regard to traffic management. , transformation and system integration.

In doing so, the gateway acts as a protector by enforcing security while providing scalability and high availability. It takes all of a customer’s API requests, determines which services are needed, and combines them into a unified, seamless experience for the user.

Succeed in your digital transformation

Behind this fashionable trend, and this somewhat “catch-all” term, hides a wide range of activities and priorities, starting with the modernization of the IT infrastructure. While this objective is certainly at the heart of the efforts of many companies, there are several ways to achieve the desired results.

APIs, for example, are a proven way to bridge the gap between commonly used systems and modern digital technologies, re-energizing existing services to more effectively meet business and customer needs. Concretely, this can mean delivering legacy applications through web or mobile infrastructure, or adopting microservices to deploy innovative features with agility and speed.

So while legacy systems can be a barrier to digital transformation strategies, an API-based solution provides the best of both worlds: the ability to maintain consistency while modernizing operational performance.

So where should teams start? It is first necessary to identify old technologies, and then to determine when they became obsolete. Third, it will be necessary to determine where API-based transformation can be achieved. There are some issues and tell-tales that can help in this decision-making process.

Applications that no longer provide easy and secure access to data, either internally or externally, should be addressed first. Likewise, if they can’t support lightweight APIs using common standards like REST/JSON to access data, alarm bells should be sounded that they are no longer suitable for the modern digital environment.

Teams embarking on this process often realize that it will be difficult to deploy changes quickly without compromising the existing platform. This is another clear sign that the application being used is not up to the level of performance required by today’s microservices strategies.

Hence the value of considering APIs that can extend the life of systems to deliver the transformational communication capabilities that businesses need. By doing so, IT teams can focus on a win-win scenario in which their infrastructure can be modernized to meet business goals, with minimal disruption to the business.

The limits of a static practice of APIs

While APIs allow businesses to quickly adapt to a changing environment and deliver a best-in-class experience of their ecosystem to their employees, customers, and partners, organizations around the world are grappling with the realities of the complexity of these interfaces. According to a recent study, enterprises today use three different API management vendors at a time, and will likely use four in the next two years.

With increasing digital maturity comes increased complexity that creates bottlenecks because of API programs that operate disjointedly or in silos across multiple parts of the business. Due to the huge number of APIs, the multiplicity of API gateways, the lack of common security standards and a common catalog to index everything, many companies are faced with having their innovation processes slowed down or blocked, because developers find it difficult to reuse resources. This results in high operational complexity, heightened security risks, and a worrying lack of centralized visibility and governance.

Centralize, the key to mastering the complexity of APIs

Organizations should have a clear interface strategy in place that makes it easy to create, control, and consume APIs. Just like with modern IT architectures in general, the goal should be to stop building systems and start cultivating ecosystems. In other words, centralize as much as necessary and decentralize as much as possible in order to deliver more value to the business through application interactions.

Businesses can create entirely new digital experiences that use the best modern portals and mobile experiences have to offer. What is vital, however, is that they can do this without having to laboriously reorganize the existing back-end infrastructure.

To move faster, companies must find ways to embrace API lifecycle management and effectively manage and govern multiple API gateways, their hybrid cloud computing environments, and other third-party ecosystems. Only then can they leverage the true promise of interfaces to unlock value faster and reuse existing investments to create new opportunities and generate new profits.

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