How to Make an API Gateway Work to Your Advantage as a CRM Admin

 

First things first: What is an API gateway?

To get to what an API gateway is, we have to start with what an API is. But don’t worry: this article will not go into too many technical details and jargon. Relax!

If you are looking for a more technical perspective, you can check What is an API Gateway? | How it Can Actually Deliver Practical Results

The term API stands for “Application Programming Interface”. Each major software has its own API. For example, Dynamics 365’s API defines what an external software can request from Dynamics, both in terms of data exchange or services to be provided.
An API gateway is a single point of entry for a defined group of APIs.This is useful if you want to have access to multip+le systems, and therefore, multiple APIs. Using an API gateway, the client only has to deal with one entry point, and the different APIs are “hidden” in the backend.

API Gateway DiagramAPI gateway architecture

This means the API gateway makes it simpler to integrate with the target CRM, e.g., Dynamics 365. It also means you can connect to as many target systems as you want using the same logic. Finally, it means that the backend services can change location, architecture, and implementation (language, framework, and others) with none or minimal impact.
Think of the API gateway as the conductor in an orchestra. In the end, it should be there to make things work together in a smooth way. But how can you move from concepts and definitions to results?

An API Gateway Example: Connect Bridge

Let’s get down to more practical aspects and see how we can get results.
For this, we will use a specific API gateway, called Connect Bridge. This API gateway works as an integration platform, and it has been on the market for ten years. It is a paid tool (some info on pricing below), but there is a free trial available if you want to try it out. Think of Connect Bridge as a single-entry point that “talks” SQL. This means that whatever code is used (and you can go for any programming language), it will communicate with this API gateway as if it were a database.
Connect Bridge has a “translator” (which we call “connector”) for each application we want to reach via the API. For example, for connecting with Dynamics, there is a Dynamics connector. This connector translates SQL statements into API calls.
Using Connect Bridge, programmers need less code (significantly less – the reduction can be of as much as 90%), and the code will be easier to understand and test. In fact, you will see a significant reduction in the number of bugs.

Using Connect Bridge as an API gateway – step-by-step

Connect Bridge step by step

  1. Code of your new or legacy application in the programming language you choose
  2. Statements in standard SQL accessing the target system as if it was a database
  3. The SQL is translated by Connect Bridge into API calls
  4. There is a specific connector for each target system that does these translations

Connect Bridge Pricing

Connect Bridge is a paid tool, with prices varying based on the number and type of connectors used and the number of users and starting at 150€/month. For more details on pricing, please check here.

Please note there is a free trial available. That is the best starting point as you can grasp what the gains in productivity will be.
In terms of ROI, please also note that the gateway ensures the final solution keeps working even if you upgrade the target system with no change required from your developers’ team. The gateway will handle all the necessary changes.

Final thoughts

The API gateway concept might seem too theoretical at first. However, it is not hard to see the benefits once you focus on a specific tool like Connect Bridge.

Here are our top 3 benefits:

  • The API gateway centralizes all accesses, independently of the number of target systems
  • Your programmers get results faster because they don’t have to learn any new API or programming language
  • Maintenance is also done in a single point and isolated - it is all on the API gateway side and not on the code done by your programmers, with Connect Bridge guaranteeing forward compatibility (and also backward compatibility should you ever need it)

If you have any remarks or suggestions, write them in the form below, and we promise to respond ASAP.
The faster way to get that integration done is by using Connect Bridge, so why not see exactly how this could work?

 

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Ana Neto - Connecting SoftwareBy Ana Neto

Software engineer since 1997, she is now a technical advisor for Connecting Software.

Connecting Software is a producer of integration and synchronization software solutions since 2004.

We operate globally and we are also a proud “Top Member” and "Top Blogger" at CRMSoftwareBlog.

 

 

 

Links and References

Connect Bridge integration platform

CRM integration examples

Connecting Software Dynamics 365 blog

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