Creating a Cloud API Integration Strategy

By Lindsey Jenkins in API Pro Tips Posted Oct 13, 2020

So you’ve put in the time and effort to build a killer app. But if it can’t be integrated with the other apps your customer base uses and needs connectivity to, you won’t see the adoption and retention you need to be successful.

cloud API integration strategy

This post is a follow-on to our updated Definitive Guide to API Integration. Download the full guide for more in-depth content on integration best practices, from pre-build to post-build, or check out the blog series.

The rapid fragmentation of the application software market is accelerating the demand for seamless connectivity among SaaS apps. With improved consumer experiences (i.e. mobile banking, purchasing an Amazon product with one click, etc…) business clients expect the same power. They want to move data bi-directionally from one platform to another in real time while engaging in a user experience that’s catered to their use case and doesn’t take weeks to set up. 

But building integrations to business-critical applications on an as-needed basis costs significant time and money.  And with this “as it comes” strategy, your developers will need to devote more effort to building, fixing, and maintaining integrations, meaning less time for core product innovation. 

This is why having an API integration strategy that’s proactive, not just reactive, is so important. Knowing what needs to be done before you integrate, best practices for building integrations to your product, and how to test the quality of your API integrations is essential to the success of your app.

Pre-Integration Work

An integration is a connection between two disparate applications that allows data to flow among them seamlessly (in an ideal world, with no manual intervention needed.) 

To create a seamless, “best practice” integration, you’ll need to complete critical pre-integration work. Three critical steps of the pre-integration process are:

  1. Knowing your use cases (aka research, research, research!)
  2. Defining user stories
  3. Selecting the right integration endpoints (some apps have hundreds - which one meets your customers’ needs?)

The Actual Integration

Once you’ve defined your user stories, have solid knowledge of how your customers are using your platform, and have identified the correct endpoint(s) to integrate to, it’s time for the main dish - finally building the integration. 

But of course this comes with complexity as well. Below the surface of writing to an API, you’ll need to face complexities such as:

  1. Authentication
  2. Discovery
  3. Data Mapping and Transformation
  4. Event Management

We won’t get into the minutiae of all of these components in this post, but check out the linked blogs or get our Definitive Guide to API Integration to learn even more. 

Quality Check

Once you’ve built your integration, you’re 60% of the way there. 

Yes, only 60%. 

Now, you need to perform quality checks and implement maintenance/monitoring standards to ensure that your integration works as it’s intended. If an integration breaks or stops functioning, it could be detrimental to your customers or even cause issues like security, missing data, etc. 

We’ve seen over and over again that when an app’s integrations aren’t working, customers and end-users get frustrated, reflecting poorly on the proprietary application (watch out NPS scores…) In other words, you take the fall even when it’s an unannounced update to the secondary application’s endpoint that made things “break” on your end.

Monitoring issues before they get out of control is key to keeping users happy. (Learn more about monitoring and failure modes in our blog post.)

Wrapping it Up

Now that you’ve gotten a primer on best practices for building cloud API integrations, it’s key to remember your strategic long-term plans. In other words, as you move from building one-off point-to-point integrations to building an integration strategy, you should keep scalability, maintenance, solving long-tail customer requests, and adaptability to future needs (i.e. new geographies, new customer bases, etc…) top of mind.

For more best practices and info on the components that make a truly great cloud API integration strategy possible (and trust us, there’s much more to cover..) check out our Definitive Guide to API Integration.

Grab your copy