In this post, we will see some of the commonly used terminologies in the context of Cloud Applications Integration.
Typically, all applications have an User Interface for the users to work with applications. But, that is not the only way for an user to access information from application. API (Application Programming Interface) is an alternate way to access application programmatically. APIs allows developers to create any custom functionality or interfaces to interact with the applications, outside of the normal UI that is available.
The easiest way to visualize an API is to see them as sockets that are available on our computers. USB slots, a headphone jack, microphone input, power inpu and HDMI ports, are different ways an user can interact with a computer. Likewise APIs provide expose different functionality of the applications, and more so, allow them to be accessed using another application. As you can imagine, in the context of Application Integrations, APIs play a key role.
Connector is another common terminology used to refer a pre-built connectivity that is established with an application. For example, a CRM connector available in an Integration Platform, indicates that the platform would allow connecting a system with an Online CRM application. e.g. ZOHO CRM. Connectors can be ofor a specific product, or for a standard technology/protocol. For instance, ODBC connector, HTTP Connector, ZOHO CRM Connector, Books Connector are examples of such pre-built connectivity enabling applications to interact with each other.
An integration platform is a collection of connectors to multiple applications. Usually, Integration Platforms provided pre-built connectivity for all well known Cloud applications. When this capability is provided as a service for users, it is also referred as iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service). iPaaS platforms usually uses third part APIs to build connectors and make it available for end users. Users upon subscription to an iPaaS service, will be able to integrate their application with all available third party applications the platform supports.
In summary, APIs, Connectors & iPaaS are terminologies used to refer all the components that are involved in enabling integration from one application to another. They also enable data transformation, modification and movement from one application to other.