The Shift Toward Easier Integration with Cloud Collaboration Applications
There has been a very big and very visible shift toward the cloud in all aspects of IT – collaboration, voice and telepresence services included. I’ve talked before about some of the good and bad associated with that but there is another element that is running parallel to this cloud shift – one that I haven’t addressed. Companies are seeking to make many of these new applications (whether cloud based or premise based) more accessible to integration and more integrated with applications that are not “collaboration enabled.”
In the past, if you wanted to integrate with a product you typically had to use a software development kit (SDK). The level of complexity varied and the SDKs weren’t always available to everyone. There were often partner relationship requirements. These SDKs also didn’t make it easy for applications to talk to each other. Essentially, they didn’t speak the same language. Your SDK might allow you to do really cool things with “application x”, but that didn’t get “application x” talking with “application y” which was on a different platform.
There is a big shift in SDK’s and API’s to simplify and make integrations accessible in ways we haven’t seen before. One big move is to allow RESTful APIs access to the software. RESTful APIs are an application program interface that uses HTTP requests. They aren’t new, but companies are starting to offer them more as an open way to access their applications. This allows developers to work with a list of RESTful APIs to build integrations, rather than having to use an individual SDK for the application. It represents an opening of the kimono, making it very clear what can be done to integrate with the application, or to have application talk to one another. This doesn’t require a proprietary SDK, making integration easier.
Some applications are going a step further by allowing integrations and bots that don’t require customization using the RESTful APIs. This can work much like adding an application to your cell phone. You access a site that has a list of possible integrations and bots, and then add them to your application. Unlike using RESTful APIs, which are less demanding than traditional API’s, adding these integrations and bots is not a developer level task.
This trend toward open integration leveraging restful API’s is very positive. More disparate systems working together allows for more business issues to be resolved with technology. In the past, getting your collaboration application to work with other systems was difficult, or near impossible for anyone not familiar or even an expert with programming languages. There were often technical differences that could not be overcome – like one system using a database that the other system could not access. Not all applications offer RESTful API’s but the number is increasing. There are systems that have clever integrations that are more interesting than practical but that is changing every day. As this trend gains momentum it is going to expand our options to create systems that truly suit business needs.
Even today you can integrate a number of collaboration systems with CRM systems via RESTful API’s, and most collaboration platforms like Cisco Spark and Microsoft SharePoint have integration outside cloud apps like Trello IFTT. I think it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a very integrated digital workplace in the near future.
Curtis brings over 25 years of collaboration experience to ABS. As the Collaboration Team Manager, Curtis works to ensure that ABS is consistently providing the latest collaboration technology and support to ABS clients.