In the SaaS age, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) have become the backbone of business operations, enabling software applications to communicate and share data seamlessly. They are the unsung heroes that power the interconnectedness of today's digital ecosystem. However, not all APIs are created equal. When it comes to adding functionality to your enterprise app, the choice of API can make a significant difference. Here are three key factors to consider when selecting an API for your enterprise app:
The stability of an enterprise app is a cornerstone of its effectiveness. When a business relies on something for their operations, the difference between 99.9% uptime and anything less could be millions in lost operating capital or revenue for users. When an API is responsible for any portion of an enterprise app’s functionality, it’s incumbent on the API provider to make sure stability is guaranteed.
In a consumer app downtime is an inconvenience, in an enterprise app downtime is catastrophe. While most API providers advertise 99.9% uptime, there are many real world cases where major incidents cause downtime that the API provider must reimburse their clients for. An end user isn’t privy to such behind the scenes information, so frequent downtime can disrupt your services and negatively impact your business.
Imagine a scenario where your enterprise business relations app relies on an API for file handling, and suddenly, the API experiences downtime. The resulting cascade of failures across the application could cost your users precious time and money, and cost your app its reputation.
Therefore, when evaluating an API, it's essential to look for one with a proven track record of stability and reliability. This can often be assessed by looking at the API's uptime statistics, its history of outages, and the robustness of its infrastructure. You can also seek out reviews on popular sites such as SourceForge or G2, where developers can share their experiences working with the app.
As our businesses move online, often with sensitive customer or corporate data, security is more important than ever. APIs, being the gateways to software applications, are often prime targets for cyberattacks. Therefore, the security of an API is a critical factor to consider when choosing it. When you maintain an enterprise app, you’re making a promise to your customers that you can keep their data secure. A great enterprise API should be configured to help you keep that promise.
The API you choose should be able to be configured to match the security and authentication scheme of your app. This means that the API should support the same security protocols that your app uses, ensuring a seamless and secure integration. APIs that support SSO or other means of credentials authentication help create a seamless experience for customers, while ensuring the API is utilizing the same rigorous security standards as your platform.
This is particularly important in sectors like fintech and medtech, where stringent regulatory requirements often mandate that data be hosted on-premises. Whole industries exist solely to provide software that keeps enterprise apps operationally in compliance, and this is no different for APIs. In such cases, the API should offer the flexibility for self-hosting, allowing you to maintain control over your data and comply with regulatory requirements.
Finally, the API should have robust security measures in place to protect against common security threats. This could include features like encryption, rate limiting, and IP whitelisting, among others.
Of course, no matter how rock solid an API is, it’s no use to you if it can’t be integrated into your app. Poor documentation, difficult integration or styling process, or lack of resources like UI kits can mean the difference between getting new functionality up and running, or derailing your roadmap to fix issues with the new API.
The API should be easy to integrate into your product roadmap and DevOps pipeline. This means that it should have a straightforward setup process, clear documentation, and a user-friendly interface.
From a development standpoint, the API should be designed with a clear and consistent structure, making it easy for developers to understand and work with. This means having logical endpoints and hooks that provide flexibility for connecting the API to the native app’s components. Using a structure that developers are familiar with also means less time spent seeking out support. This can significantly reduce the learning curve and speed up the integration process.
But, if the need for support should arise, the API provider should offer robust support to help you resolve any issues that may arise during the integration process. At minimum this should include developer success representatives, a comprehensive knowledge base, and ideally an active developer community that can answer questions and help your team troubleshoot problems.
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