API strategy for effective use of existing IT assets


NTT DATA’s Approach to iPaaS

Recently many companies have been facing issues with system modernization i.e. DX(Digital Transformation). This article introduces NTT DATA’s approach to iPaaS(integration Platform as a Service) which is expected to be one of the key solutions to DX issues.

In recent years, many Japanese companies have been working towards DX, however many companies with large-scale legacy system are said to have not reached the introduction stage or the continuous commitment stage. There are number of factors why DX cannot be promoted at this time but NTT DATA’s focus is on “system/data silos” as the major factor.

iPaaS for solving system/data silos

Silo refers to an independent state that cannot be linked. If the system becomes siloed, existing core IT platform cannot be smoothly linked to modern digital technology or cloud service, making it disabled to create new business values. However, migrating/digitizing the existing backbone system itself requires high quality and it involves costs and high risks. Even if only data is linked without migration, the existing system will need to be refurbished, but maintenance operation will not be improved, which in turn leads to the problem that the cost and time cannot be devoted to DX examination.

The use of cloud services such as SaaS/PaaS provided by software vendors are expected to accelerate in the future, so silo will also progress further, intersystem cooperation will become more complicated, and eventually the governance of the entire system will be unable to maintain, and hence it will be more challenging to promote DX.

iPaaS is drawing more attention as a technology to overcome this situation. iPaaS is a comprehensive platform for API-based data linkage. It serves as a hub for all systems and services and makes seamless inter-system cooperation possible. In addition to improving development agility through the introduction of iPaaS, it can be expected to have the effect of devoting excess resources to the digital technology field.

Features of iPaaS

- API can be defined and implemented in low code

iPaaS is a cloud service which after implementing data integration to API can be achieved without programming. Many connecting parts are prepared on iPaaS to connect cloud services and various software. By entering connection settings and acquisition items to the connecting parts from a browser, it makes it easy and simple to input/output data from various applications. The data acquired by the connector can be used not only for simple data processing, but also for protocol conversion and interworking with the data acquired form multiple applications and systems to perform calculations using low code development. This allows iPaaS to redesign the interface so that the existing system is not modified as much as possible and publish it as an APC.

The iPaaS product vendor will add and update connectors on a regular basis. Therefore, linkage with protocols, new technologies or newly born cloud service that did not exist at the time of introducing iPaas, there is a mechanism that they can be supported through regular updates.

- Provide API managed service function

iPaaS not only makes it easy to develop APIs, but also supports operational aspects of it. Since it provides managed functions such as publishing the developed API, authentication, flow control, deploying in each environment and monitoring the lead time from development to operation can be shortened.

In addition, since API can be centrally managed on iPaaS, it also has the advantage that governance can be applied to the cooperation part where management is likely feel it to be complicated. With the above functions, it is possible to build an API ecosystem with a smaller number of people in a shorter period of time than the conventional SI process, while keeping the existing backbone system “salted”.

While iPaas itself is a cloud service, the API execution module can be deployed in an on-premises environment, so there are almost no restrictions on usage scenario. The metadata required to manage the API will need to be sent to the cloud service, however the business data does not go beyond cloud environment. It may be applicable to the high security projects unless it is a completely closed network where internet connection is impossible.

NTT DATA’s approach

NTT DATA has a lot of overseas group companies and is experienced in introducing iPaaS overseas. In particular, NTT DATA Services has many achievements especially in North America where the introduction of iPaaS is quite active. Although, iPaaS has a small track record in Japan, NTT DATA provides consulting and delivery services with high feasibility to customers by linking know-how with overseas group companies. In addition, NTT DATA proposes products according to the characteristics of the project without being bound by the particular vendor. In the current iPaaS product market, there is no de-facto standard product and it is not easy to select the best product. NTT DATA is able to use the knowledge and experiences of group companies effectively in order to make optimal product selections.

At last, the introduction of iPaaS requires design know-how from a business perspective, similar to conventional SI business. NTT DATA will contribute to the DX promotion to its customers by successfully combining the iPaaS introduced in the article with the wealth of experience in the public, financial and corporate business domains cultivated from long history of system development.