Cloud Application Programming Interface (API) enables development of applications and services used to provide cloud hardware, software and platforms. Cloud API works as a middleware that provides direct and indirect cloud infrastructure and software services to end users. There are two basic frameworks for a cloud API namely Representational State Transfer (REST) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). Cross platform and client specific APIs are also available for use according to the requirements.
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There are four major scenarios where cloud computing integrates with another platform or another cloud provider. First is PaaS API (Service Level) known as Platform-as-a-Service API which is used to provide access and functionality to cloud environment. Second is SaaS API (Application Level) known as Software as-a-Service API that binds the application layer with the cloud and underlying IT infrastructure layer. Third is Iaas API (Infrastructure Level) known as Infrastructure-as-a-service API which helps in controlling specific cloud resources and their distribution. Fourth is cloud provider and cross-platform APIs for multiple number of providers and platforms. One of the key decisions for a company is to choose the right interface or the combination of interfaces.
Cloud APIs are significant for any company, its most important benefit is control over the cloud operations. Companies can perform infrastructure management and deployment processes according to the business requirements. Moreover, users can build applications based on their requirement which increases its efficiency. Thus, cloud APIs provide the necessary flexibility to quickly and precisely perform user defined actions. This flexibility allows users to manage or deploy resources according to their requirement. Furthermore, integration with the existing software or platform is easy with the help of Cloud APIs.
Easy integration helps organizations to transform their business to cloud without complications. However, there are a number of challenges that the cloud API market is currently facing. Organizational data which is stored on cloud platforms becomes vulnerable to theft and external breaches. Key issues surrounding cloud APIs are maintenance and documentation. Some cloud APIs have not defined the schema and operations clearly which has made it difficult for a user to understand the end version. Another key challenge is that cloud APIs do not support server initiated notifications inherently. Moreover, conversation states must be maintained for specific APIs which in turn results in reduced scalability and failure to recovery. Query language offered for cloud APIs is limited and insufficient for developers. In addition, making changes to Cloud APIs is a complex procedure that requires changes on both the ends i.e. client and server.
At present, cloud APIs are more accessible and intelligent to developers, owing to the increased power of analytics and cloud technologies. APIs deliver exceptional user experience. Speech recognition and cognitive computing are a few more applications of Cloud APIs. These developments are providing developers numerous opportunities aided by the growing mobile market. Easy-to-use developer tools are being developed to build better APIs.
Some of the major players in the global Cloud API market are Citrix Systems, Inc., Amazon Web Services, Inc., Google Inc., International Business Machines Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Zend Technologies Ltd, Rackspace Inc., VMware, Inc., and CA Technologies, Inc.