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How to prepare for API integration on your network

APIs are becoming the easiest way to customize services to fit business communications needs. Before deployment, IT should investigate what network constraints API traffic could bring.

The as-a-service model for platforms and applications has gained popularity as more companies make the transition to the cloud. Moving to this service-centric model means organizations are using APIs to customize services and meet business needs. Many communications service providers offer a litany of APIs that enable organizations to integrate communications capabilities into their workflows and business applications.

Adding APIs to customize services is, for the most part, quick and convenient. While the integration process can be straightforward, IT must prepare for API integrations by evaluating network readiness to support additional traffic created by communications APIs.

How do you prepare for API integrations on your network?

Bandwidth will likely be the biggest concern when it comes to preparing your network for APIs. It's important to figure out what your traffic flow will look like with the addition of APIs to determine how much bandwidth your network will need to support the increased traffic.

APIs may bring in regularly expected traffic; however, they may also generate traffic from the API vendor itself. Depending on the API's function, it could increase the traffic coming from outside the network.

Using a click-to-call button, for example, may not affect traffic in a significant way. But if you begin to stack concurrent calls or use click to call to connect to a video conference, the additional bandwidth would create a far bigger traffic burden that can strain your network.

You should also be aware of the traffic's location. If all of the traffic is occurring inside of the network, then bandwidth will continue to be your main concern. If traffic is also coming from outside of the network, then you may need to evaluate your firewall configuration to ensure that outside media traffic is coming in correctly. To prepare for media API integrations outside the network, it's a good idea to set up a protocol to prioritize API-driven traffic.

How do communications APIs affect network traffic?

Different types of communications use different amounts of bandwidth. Knowing what kinds of communications your APIs support will help you determine what the demand on your bandwidth will look like when preparing for those API integrations.

Most text-based applications use a negligible amount of bandwidth, so it's unlikely that you'll need to make any significant changes to the network. Video and voice communications have higher bandwidth requirements, and the more concurrent sessions that run across the network, the more bandwidth your organization will need to maintain network speed and reliability.

What can prevent IT from properly assessing network needs related to APIs?

The ability to calculate traffic is paramount when preparing a network for API integrations. To that end, IT needs to be aware of all APIs on the network. Vendors have made it increasingly simple to integrate APIs, which has given line-of-business leaders the ability to deploy APIs without IT's knowledge.

Shadow IT API deployments can be problematic as it becomes more difficult for IT to accurately ascertain traffic on the network. In addition, IT needs to be aware of exactly how APIs are being used. If an API is deployed to enable text-based services, IT leaders likely won't need to make network changes. But if that same API is also used for video services, the network configuration will need to be addressed. While it is hard to guess how exactly end users will engage with APIs, keeping IT aware of potential use can be beneficial to prevent network congestion.

This was last published in April 2019

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