The ABCs of APIs
There has been plenty of talk and interest in APIs over the past few years, with them becoming more prevalent in our day-to-day lives as well in the business world. At Colt we utilise APIs across our portfolio, particularly in our Wholesale SIP Trunking product, Colt Number Hosting, to increase automation and improve the experience of our customers. But what are APIs and how do we use them at Colt to enhance the experience of our customers, in this guide you will find out all you need to know…
Did you know?
When presented with new technologies expected to drive digital transformation in the next year, 91% of CIOs are considering APIs, which was the most common response.
What is an API?
To begin, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) define how a software can request another software to provide data or to perform a task, by specifying:
- What requests can be made
- What data format to use
There are three types of APIs which can be used:
- Private (for internal use only)
- Partnered (shared with specific partners to provide additional revenue streams)
- Public (allowing third parties to develop apps that interact with your API to foster innovation)
An example of how an API is used can be found on travel booking sites, which use APIs to collect flight and hotel availabilities from providers, that allows them to aggregate thousands of flight and destinations to show the cheapest options to their customers.
In the telecoms space, a common example we see is APIs are offered by service providers for clients to program their applications to automatically request services while running, which is where our Number Hosting APIs come into effect.
How do we use APIs in our Colt Number Hosting solution?
Colt Number Hosting is our Wholesale SIP Trunking solution that enables Cloud Service Providers to expand their offering to include fully regulatory compliant Voice with PSTN break out, with minimum effort and increased efficiency and simplification through business automation. Our APIs allow CSPs to automate transactions into their own software, so they can spin up new nomadic and geographic numbers for their end-customers, submit port-in orders to retain their end-customers numbers, manage their orders and view their number inventory.
Colt wins ‘Best network technology innovation’ at the Global Carrier Awards
This award recognised Colt’s contribution to developing industry leading Application Programmable Interfaces (APIs). We picked up the award thanks to our investment in our SDN/NFV technology to automate the customer journey, Colt On Demand and Number Hosting API and our partnerships with AT&T, Equinix, PacketFabric, Zayo, IBM and leading CSPs.
Why are APIs so important?
So this is how we use APIs in our Number Hosting product, and the importance of providing this is evident through the trends we see in the world today of 24/7 availability, ever-increasing connectivity, and a reliance on data. These trends have created new challenges for businesses and APIs are ever more present in today’s consumer and business environments as an answer to this. They have transformed the way businesses interact with each other and the way they provide value to their customers by increasing automation, improving collaboration, simplifying innovation and enhancing security.
As the use of APIs has increased, the need to standardise data exchange between web services has grown, so that diverse systems with different programming languages and/or running on different operating systems, or using different technologies, can seamlessly communicate with each other. Which has resulted in API protocols being created to support this, with 2 of the most common being:
SOAP (Service Object Access Protocol)
Lightweight protocol for exchanging structured information in a decentralized, distributed environment; that contains the syntax rules for request and response messages sent by web applications. APIs that comply with the principles of SOAP enable XML messaging between systems through HTTP or Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) for transferring mail.
REST (Representational State Transfer)
Software architectural style that defines the set of rules to be used for creating web services. Interaction in REST based systems happen through Internet’s Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). RESTful systems support messaging in different formats, such as plain text, HTML, YAML, XML, and JSON, while SOAP only allows XML. The ability to support multiple formats for storing and exchanging data is one of the reasons REST is a prevailing choice for building public APIs these days.
Below you can find a table highlighting the key differences between these two protocols, and this is the foundation of how we are transforming our Number Hosting APIs.
|Abbreviation||REST stands for Representational State Transfer.||SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol|
|Implementation + Interchange||REST API is a flexible architectural style + conforms to the TMF open standards. As a result, REST APIs can make use of SOAP APIs as the underlying protocol for web services.||SOAP API is an official standard because of its protocol. As a result SOAP APIs cannot make use of REST APIs since SOAP is a protocol + REST is an architectural pattern|
|Internal communication||REST APIs use multiple standards like HTTP, JSON, URL, and XML for data communication and transfer.||SOAP APIs use only HTTP and XML|
|Resource requirement||As REST APIs deploy and use multiple standards, it takes fewer resources and bandwidth compared to SOAP APIs.||Whereas SOAP APIs require more resource and bandwidth as they need to convert data into XML which increases the payload and results in larger files.|
|Description||REST APIs use more advanced Web Application Description Language to describe the functionality being offered by web services.||Whereas SOAP APIs use Web Services Description language.|
|Security||REST APIs use SSL and HTTPS for security.||SOAP uses SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and WS-security and are often used in Banking for securing Bank Account Password resets, use of Card Numbers, etc. SOAP APIs are preferred to REST APIs for these types of transactions.|
Colt Number Hosting – VoIP reseller services enables you to build and sell your own VoIP services under your own brand with minimum effort and low risk – with full regulatory compliance.
Why are REST APIs the best choice for your organisation?
In general, a JSON-based RESTful API is the best choice for data-driven systems. It requires less resources, offers more message formats and is known for its scalability, flexibility, browser-friendliness, much higher data transfer speeds and a better overall performance. JSON-based RESTful APIs are the best choice for businesses looking for the highest data transfer speeds and who do not have endless developer resources that are needed for SOAP API integration.
Transforming our Number Hosting APIs from SOAP to REST
With the benefits that REST APIs have over SOAP APIs, Colt is now in the process of transforming our Number Hosting APIs from SOAP to REST, to leverage the benefits highlighted above, and we are doing this by adopting:
- Industry standard REST-JSON APIs, aligned to TMF conventions
- OAuth2 based authentication and authorization
- Usage statistics
- Flexible version management, so customers can migrate at their own pace
- Standard format for numbers, date-time, and more
- Field optimization
With the introduction of REST APIs, in February 2022 we will also be delivering an API portal for your developer community. API portals are important because it means you can engage your developer community and drive your business forward, as you can test beta versions of code and start using our REST APIs at the earliest opportunity in your software development lifecycle.
We’ll be releasing our REST APIs in phases to give you time to test and consume them in their own software integration.
Our main goal is to provide the best customer and user experience when consuming our APIs. Over the coming months we will focus on our strategy to bring REST APIs to the core of what we do, and they will be the foundation of our upcoming developments for our Number Hosting product.
If you want to find out more about how our Number Hosting solution can enable you to enter wholesale Voice markets quickly and easily with our APIs, please click here or contact us.
How Colt is using an online portal to improve the experience of our Voice resellers
As the world becomes more digital, the importance of online portals has become significant. Voice resellers need control over their numbers any time and anywhere to respond to their business and end customers’ requirements quickly, securely and effectively.