Understanding Cloud Services APIs

Cloud computing is everywhere. From mom and pop neighborhood shops to billion-dollar enterprises, everyone has jumped on the...

Cloud computing is everywhere. From mom and pop neighborhood shops to billion-dollar enterprises, everyone has jumped on the cloud bandwagon. Cloud computing empowers enterprises with efficiency and agility so enterprises can exercise more control and gain visibility in their day to day business processes and operations. From managing a data center and publishing and managing source code to maintaining six sigma benchmarks, cloud computing, builds a compelling use case for everyone in the IT ecosystem.

As cloud computing continues to gather more momentum, developers and system administrators are discovering newer ways to integrate their existing technology infrastructure and platforms with the cloud. In the quest to enhance the overall cloud experience, cloud services APIs have enabled developers to seamlessly work with cross-cloud platforms as well as maintain compatibility with other resources.

There are multiple ways to integrate cloud services API with existing IT infrastructure, with each methodology presenting its own, unique set of features. There are four major areas where cloud services APIs help in communicating with existing resources. They are:

  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) APIs – These APIs provide integration with database management systems, messaging systems, storage infrastructure, web portals, etc.

  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – These APIs help in connecting with the application layer and the underlying infrastructure, like large and medium scale CRM and ERP services.

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – These APIs manage cloud resources and provision infrastructure components, like router and switch configurations, and virtual machines and ESX.

  • Cross-platform APIs – These APIs provide integration with third party cloud APIs and enable multi-tenancy and API-sharing so users can access more features and deploy web services rapidly.

Classification of Cloud Services APIs

Cloud services APIs are broadly classified according to how end-users consume particular services and how an organization defines its business requirements. For example, Facebook and Google APIs help a developer create interactive services with the help of Open Graph and Maps APIs respectively. REST, JSON, and OAuth are some of the mechanisms through which developers can expose their APIs and bind them with other services. The following is a list of API classes that are prevalent in the industry from a technology perspective. 

This list is by no means exhaustive.

  • Social APIs that enable file, photo, and video sharing, among others and logs user activities

  • Communication APIs that enable messaging, phone, and video calls

  • Location APIs that enable real-time location-based services like geotagging or georeferencing

  • Services APIs that enable analytics, advertising, and e-commerce activities

  • Security APIs that enable data encryption and user authentication

  • File sharing APIs that enable file sharing and real-time data manipulation

  • Search APIs that enable graph-based search and data retrieval from cloud services

Benefits of Cloud Services APIs

Since cloud APIs are inherently programmable and configurable, they enjoy precedence over physical infrastructure. This is one of the many benefits APIs provide to an enterprise. Some of the other benefits are:

  • No more headaches about database and server administration or load balancing. Developers can focus on writing the code and ignore non-essential, redundant tasks

  • Availability of command line interfaces and IDEs like Eclipse

  • Single window management of all applications via an admin console

  • Auto-scaling of your applications in sync with your users

  • Wide range of storage services for quick and easy retrieval of data. Whether it’s MySQL or NoSQL, the APIs will provide you with much needed object storage and caching

  • Consistent and predictive performance across all facets of local and server computing

  • Access to a variety of analytical dashboards to monitor resource usage and performance, and also to identify emerging patterns.