NTT DATA Business Solutions
Florian Leufgen | April 26, 2023 | 4 min.

Implementation of an API Layer – The Rail Yard of Your IT Architecture

New innovative business systems and the continuous extension of enterprise architectures as well as the need for providing business data pose new demands and challenges for your IT architecture. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and the orchestration of these with your backend systems play a central role in this for quite some time. The introduction of an API layer through an API management tool is one way to deal with this and will be described in this blog.

API Management

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)

Integrating IT systems is becoming increasingly complex these days. Due to the rising number of cloud-based and innovative applications as well as the continued use of on-premises systems the complexity of enterprise architectures gets higher over time.

The connection of these systems and sharing of the data and processes can result in high costs and fuzzy hands-on work when doing point-to-point integrations. In contrast, the integration of applications is the part where these data and processes between the interconnected systems generate value for your company. To do so you can make use of your companies’ APIs and business systems by integrating an API layer.

API Layer – Basic Concept

Introducing an API layer into a company’s IT architecture is a solution to manage integrations and improve the publication of data and processes for internal or external consumers. While the concept of breaking up a monolithic system is not new, it has evolved from interfaces and modules to APIs and microservices. To realize the architectural concept of an API layer, an API management tool is necessary as it acts as a distributor of data and eases the management and publication of APIs.

By introducing API management, you can achieve flexibility and central control across various integration scenarios. One reason for this is the ability to decouple the sender and receiver systems.

API Management – The Rail Yards Dispatcher

Think of it as a dedicated layer to provide your data and information to the surrounding systems while disguising where the data is coming from. Systems in the background might change over time but the published API to access the data more or less stays the same. Of course, there will be changes as you would introduce new versions over time, but the concept stays the same.

API management can for example be used to provide a single access point towards your backend systems for the usage and integration of master- and movement data. The approach being taken is to publish only one connection to the backend system through API management, instead of individually connecting each consumer (such as apps) to the data objects. All consumers are then connected to endpoints published by API management instead. This turns API management into the central point of communication for all internal and external applications and systems, transforming it into an API layer. While this is also just the simplest case it gets interesting when you combine multiple data sources in one API. Think about consolidating some core business partners with those in your CRM system.

The API management tool itself generally enables the development, configuration, publishing, and monitoring of your APIs.

Benefits – API Layer Implementation

Some of the main advantages of implementing an API layer into your architectural landscape are:

  • Simplified access to your enterprise’s APIs and backend applications
  • Harmonized and improved API and backend security
  • Monitored APIs to track the consumption
  • Increased degree of flexibility

One way to implement this can be found in the SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) and its SAP API management. Some additional possibilities and advantages of this tool are for example:

  • Simplified development of APIs through configuration instead of coding
  • Monetarization of your APIs
  • SAP-HANA based analytics

In the upcoming blog, we will take a closer look at an exemplary case where we will integrate a customer/supplier portal with the needed backend systems using the SAP API management.

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