Prominence of API in Revolutionizing the Cloud Computing World
Cloud computing has become a vital part of today’s IT world. Many businesses have made the shift to cloud computing to take advantage of its cost, flexibility, and security. Individuals have also made the jump to the cloud because it allows for easier collaboration, accessibility, and reliability. But while most people know what the cloud is and what it does, few have heard or understand the term application programming interface, or API. APIs, though, are the driving force behind cloud computing, and without them, the cloud wouldn’t be as useful as it is or as widespread as it has become.
Where the Cloud Came From
The cloud actually has its roots in the 1960s, when a number of different developers and computer scientists were experimenting with the idea of large computer networks that could be used for business and individual computing needs. However, the technology simply wasn’t available at the time, partially because of the lack of APIs, the lack of computing power, and insufficient bandwidth. In the 1990s, computing power and bandwidth were no longer an issue, and some businesses began making tentative steps in the direction of cloud computing.
In 1999, the website salesforce.com made a major step forward in the concept of cloud computing by creating a website that could deliver various applications to users in separate areas who were not on the same secure network. Amazon then created the first system of cloud-based services in 2002 when they began offering online storage, processing, and more. Since then, more and more cloud systems have sprung up, but all of them have been driven by APIs.
API – Allowing Access to the Cloud
While the cloud in theory has been around for decades, it’s the prominence of the API that has made it so useful today. The API is the translator between user and cloud. Anytime you access the cloud, you do so through one of these interfaces. APIs can be anywhere from very simple and basic to quite advanced. Some have limited customizability, while others are open source and allow power users to actually make changes to the API at the code level.
This is also what gives cloud computing its strength: APIs allow users to access the cloud from anywhere. Previously, limited cloud computing was done through business networks. Users had to log in to a network server at their office to access the shared drive. While this system worked very well, it was limited by physical location: these shared drives were generally not accessible outside the office. The cloud, however, can be accessed anywhere, and cloud security has evolved to the point that there are very few unauthorized accesses.
Moving Beyond the Cloud
APIs are used to do more than allow access to the cloud, however. Any type of online interface is an API: Facebook, Amazon, and Spotify are all APIs that allow the user to access, navigate, and use those particular services. While these APIs are fairly basic, cutting edge APIs allow users and developers to mix applications, cloud computing, and traditional methods together to get the best of all possible worlds.
Another use of APIs is in the cloud phone systems. These systems can be used by a business to provide all of their employees their own web phone numbers, the ability to do conference calls, and voicemail. Moreover, a modern cloud based business phone system can now integrate with Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work, to bring communications and productivity applications together, making them much more effective. Because it’s all done over the internet, there are no actual phone lines installed or utility costs to the business. The system works in a very similar way, however, but it may include a number of the following added features:
o Forward calls to others
o Record calls
o Call email contacts
o Create video conferences
o Transfer calls between your mobile and your computer
o Create virtual receptionists to route incoming calls
The Future of the API
Because we have to have some form of interface to interact with the cloud and other systems, APIs are not going anywhere. In fact, with the move to Web 2.0, APIs have become much more prominent. This “new” internet has allowed content that was previously very difficult to access online to be much more available because it’s been included in a series of cloud systems. Through APIs, developers can now access services and content from many large organizations. With the advances in Web 2.0, it’s become much easier for services, information, and applications to be accessed when and where the user desires. At the core of this accessibility is the API. These interfaces may not be famous, but they’re the workhorses of the internet.
Do you have any thoughts on how API has revolutionized the cloud computing world? Let us know!