RESTful API: This is Not Your Grandma’s API

July 27, 2015

APIs, in relation to software and IT systems integration, are not a new topic. APIs have been employed for the last fifteen years to connect disparate systems. Generally, an API existed at a particular point in systems that needed a way to exchange data from one to the other.

That was your “grandma’s API.”

More recently, a relatively new style of API has emerged. These APIs allow systems to communicate with each other in a distributed and new functional way. This new API is called RESTful API (Representational State Transfer).

What’s so exciting about the proliferation of RESTful APIs? They have a universal shared architecture. This is a big deal – it easily enables an infinite amount of connections between an infinite amount of systems. Note, a system isn’t just a piece of software; it is also a thing… like a toothbrush or your lawn mower.

This is not your grandma’s API.

From an enterprise business perspective, this means a company no longer needs to settle for a software or a system solution that doesn’t do exactly what they want it to. The RESTful API allows for a convergence of technologies that on-premise solutions, or even many cloud-based solutions can’t even dream of. Need only a few functions of that powerful system you looked at yesterday? No problem. Need the functions of two, three, four different software systems you have seen? No problem. Mash them up however you wish.

This software utopia is only delivered via systems ready for this new frontier. But it isn’t enough to expose just a part of their system via a RESTful API. Bits and pieces of a RESTful API is still “your grandma’s API.”

To play in this new realm of available software technology you need to expose your entire system via a RESTful API. When you expose all of your system, you expose your platform.  This is referred to as Platform as a System (PaaS). That means all the bells and whistles within that powerful system become available to use individually.

If grandma gives you a toothbrush and a lawnmower, PaaS and the RESTful APIs will give you a self-driving lawnmower that cleans your teeth. Or an electric toothbrush that mows your lawn. Whatever you so desire, PaaS and RESTful APIs make it happen. Sorry, grandma.