5 API, Integration and Microservices Trends — and What They Mean for Government

A highly connected IT environment is now essential for modernization. Organizations need to connect not just their systems, but also people and processes — and they need enabling technologies to do so.

APIs and microservices have become critical technical tools organizations can leverage to integrate their ecosystem and achieve their modernization goals, according to a recent survey of 950 IT decision makers across a range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, consumer services and more. Though the survey focused on private sector organizations, the responses also have implications for the public sector, as constituents now expect their interactions with government to be on par with what they experience in the consumer space. They expect seamless, fast and personalized service. Private sector organizations are shaping their strategy around tools that will enable this level of service, and government organizations must do the same to meet growing constituent demand.

APIs, integration and microservices can help governments deliver a better constituent experience, increase their operational efficiency, agility and resilience. Here are five trends that capture the current state of APIs, integration and microservices — and what they mean for government.

APIs Are Now a Core Technology for Organizations

IT leaders now view APIs as core to their operations. Ninety eight percent believe APIs are or will be extremely or very important to their organization’s operations, while 93% agree that APIs are relevant and essential to how their organizations function. Eight-six percent of IT leaders said without the use of APIs, their organizations would continue to work in silos.

APIs have become a core technology for organizations because they are using them to execute several mission-critical objectives, including application development, digital transformation, innovation and modernization projects, the survey found. Organizations also said the biggest benefits they reap from using APIs include the ability to deliver flexible services and information (53%), the integration of cloud services and applications (49%), the ability to create personalized user experiences (49%), and faster time to market for new products and services (46%) — all of which are critical capabilities necessary for modernization.

API Security is Top of Mind

Organizations are focused on securing APIs. Forty-eight percent of IT leaders surveyed said ensuring API security was the top challenge their organizations faced when leveraging APIs. Difficulties with lifecycle management and upgrades (33%) was another key challenge, which also ties back to security.

Part of the reason organizations may face API security issues is because they are using basic API management solutions that don’t allow them to monitor the full lifecycle of APIs and the full path of API consumption, from backend applications to the edge. In the survey, 83% of respondents said basic API management solutions are no longer enough to meet their organization’s needs and 93% said advanced API solutions are now necessary to realize all the benefits APIs offer.

The Future is Hybrid

The majority of organizations surveyed — 99% — use integration systems. Most of these systems operate within hybrid environments, as 64% of IT leaders said their organizations are running integration systems in the cloud and on-prem.

Of those using hybrid integration systems, 55% said improved productivity and efficiency are the main benefits of integrating their applications and systems, 49% said integration improves innovation and enterprise visibility, and 48% said it enhances their organizations’ information management capabilities. However, security was once again a challenge for organizations, as 47% of IT leaders said protecting systems and applications from external threats was one of their main integration challenges.

Microservices Have Gone Mainstream

While APIs are more prevalent, organizations are also using microservices — a software development approach in which applications are decoupled to create independent services that rely on APIs to communicate with one another.

Eighty-one percent of IT leaders surveyed said their organizations currently use microservices to some extent, while 18% said they plan to use them in the near future and 1% have never used them and don’t plan to. Among the 18% that plan to implement microservices, more than half (54%) plan to do so within the next year. Ninety-five percent of IT leaders surveyed also said microservices are or would be extremely or very important to their operations, indicating that many organizations realize the value microservices offer in terms of increasing their agility, speeding innovation and accelerating their path to modernization.

An All-in-One Integration Solution is Vital

Organizations are currently using several disparate tools for their integration and modernization needs, including APIs and microservices, but IT leaders understand their organizations will benefit most from a unified platform that brings all these capabilities together. Most (97%) believe it would be beneficial to combine the use of APIs, integration and microservices together as a bundled solution.

APIs and microservices greatly complement each other, and 93% of IT leaders said these technologies are related enough that it would make sense to combine them in one solution. The same percentage also said organizations that integrate API management with their use of microservices will have a distinct advantage over their competitors.

What These Trends Mean for Governments

There are several consistent themes throughout all these trends. Many IT leaders surveyed said their organizations faced challenges such as limited staffing resources and limited skill sets internally to fully utilize APIs and microservices. They were also concerned about the business, operational and financial risks associated with integration and scaling their IT environments.

The public sector isn’t immune to these challenges, either. In fact, governments understand them all too well. However, the survey indicates both private and public sector organizations will benefit most from adopting a unified approach to integration and leveraging an all-encompassing solution that facilitates full lifecycle API management, robust API security and effective microservices management. Adopting this approach will allow organizations to simplify and streamline their integration processes, reduce technical debt, and make a single, impactful technology investment that helps them unlock the full value of APIs, integration and microservices to propel their transformation.

To learn more about the current state of APIs, integration and microservices, read our full report, “The Annual APIs and Integration Report 2021”.

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