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Technology Reviews: Interoperability and the API Economy

Interoperability technologies have swung in and out of favor over the last few years. The most recent trend has been fueled by the proliferation of APIs from cloud-based products coupled with the simplification of the methods used to call application programming interfaces, APIs, called REST APIs. REST stands for “representational state transfer.”

REST APIs And Mobile Computing

REST APIs have grown in popularity due to the massive growth of mobile computing. Mobile operating systems like iOS and Android did not originally support complex data structures and protocols like XML and SOAP. As a result, simpler structures for passing data back and forth have become popular, particularly REST APIs and JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). Due to the growth of cloud, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT), there has been an explosion in available APIs.

Integrating APIs With ERP Software

Many ERP providers have jumped on the API bandwagon and are at various points of implementation. QAD has offered APIs for its business functions for many years under the banner of a service-oriented architecture or SOA. More recently, however, with our Channel Islands initiative, we now use REST APIs to service the new UX and to create a highly open system that readily supports integration, application extension and innovation. This approach simplifies cloud application integration, which QAD achieves through a combination of its own technology and with partner Dell Boomi.

REST APIs, however, still need to be managed, like any software source. There are best and worst practices for REST API design and security. QAD, therefore, primarily views REST APIs as a best practice for interoperability. The interoperability afforded by REST APIs significantly reduces the volume of customizations required for an ERP implementation and lowers the hurdle for future ERP upgrades. Most importantly, the QAD API approach offers flexible options for ERP upgrades, such as by module rather than the entire application.

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More Stories By Tony Winter

With over 20 years in the ERP industry, Tony Winter is responsible for driving QAD’s long-term technology, architecture and product release strategies. He oversees a global research and development team, manages all technical relationships with QAD global partners, and innovates on QAD’s key technology initiatives, including its user interfaces, foundation services, application lifecycle management, analytics, integration and quality.

Tony loves to spend time with his wife and four children, learning new things together through homeschooling, like trying to play instruments and traveling to experience different cultures and cuisines firsthand. He had a unique education in his home country of Wales with the first 18 years of his life being taught entirely in Welsh. He also builds software-controlled devices and has a large collection of metal cast puzzles.