API Integration is Easier Than You Think
If there’s one lesson we’re learning along our digital transformation journey, it’s that automation breeds efficiency. The more we enable our systems to do our work, the less time we waste. You can easily automate key business functions like quoting and ordering services, managing your inventory, and creating trouble tickets using application programming interfaces (APIs).
Zayo’s API developer portal offers a library of API reference documentation for developers. In addition, we provide the means to explore, onboard, and live test with existing API offerings. APIs are coded, direct interactions between the applications you use and the systems your vendors use for these business functions. APIs allow your applications to pull information directly from your vendors’ systems.
Why Establish APIs?
Currently, you’re managing multiple vendors across multiple business functions. You’re sending emails to one, logging into a customer portal for another, and texting or calling others. To make matters more complex, each vendor has its own process for you to comply with. This makes it difficult to present a congruent output across all vendors in the one system that matters: yours.
The good news is that this output is simply data, and data can be automated using APIs.
And there’s more good news: Establishing APIs is not nearly as daunting as you might imagine. If you’re working with a good vendor, it’s easier than you think!
Imagine for a moment a world where you never have to leave your system in order to extract information from your vendors’ systems. Envision a work day without swivel-chairing information from your vendors’ systems to your applications. APIs make this possible, leaving you more time for productive tasks.
With a single interface, they do the work for you. Here are the different APIs:
1. Direct APIs with your vendors
Most vendors offer a developer portal to establish APIs with them directly. You can complete the API integration within a matter of days depending on the complexity. You have complete control over the design and implementation of the API integration tools to ensure they fit your business needs.
Direct APIs benefit companies with massive volumes of highly transactional business with a particular vendor (such as hundreds of quote requests per day). Direct APIs are also ideal for companies with extensive business with a particular vendor (such as multiple circuits to manage across a vast geography). This is because direct APIs offer integration across the many business functions we discussed earlier: Network Discovery, Quoting and Ordering, Service Management, Maintenance, and Ticketing.
Network Discovery APIs
This family of APIs allows you to analyze how your vendors’ services can power your business. A discovery API will show you which of your business locations, and which of your cloud service providers, your vendor can serve.
- Building Validation API to see if your vendor can serve your site, no matter where in the world it’s located
- Location Availability API to ensure your vendor serves your specific floor, room, and suite within a building with a specific product
- Cloud Access API to validate hundreds of CSP locations from AWS, Google, Azure, IBM, Salesforce, etc. to see where hosted or dedicated connections can be offered. With Zayo’s APIs, we can even show you what sites offer same-day provisioning
Quote and Order APIs
This family of APIs unites your systems with your vendors’ systems in order to automate and simplify your transactional activities.
- Product Catalog API. Establishing a product catalog API allows your team to become more familiar with your vendor’s services and solution options. This can help to better inform your decisions on which vendor’s solutions best meet your needs.
- Quoting API. Accessing the information of the discovery and catalog APIs, your system can draw quotes directly from the vendor’s quoting engine. You can compare price quotes from multiple vendors, side by side, without ever leaving your own system.
- Ordering API. With a direct order API, you can place an order for a quoted service directly within your vendor’s ordering engine, again, without leaving your own system.
Service Management APIs
Service Management APIs seamlessly retrieve critical service information and connect it with the source of truth, get support for issues, and keep track of planned outages.
- Service Inventory API. Managing service inventory across multiple vendors should never require manual data inputs into spreadsheets hundreds of columns wide, thousands of rows long. Let your IT service management system do that work for you! With a service inventory API, your ITSM is connected directly to the “source of truth” of all active service data, with full sorting and filtering capabilities.
- Ticketing API. You can automate across your service management functions as well. Ticketing integration between your system and your vendors’ allows you to view and submit trouble tickets for your services directly from your own service monitoring system.
- Maintenance Case API. Vendors maintain their networks through augmentations, grooming, rerouting, and updating hardware, and sometimes these maintenance activities result in pre-planned outages. This API allows your system to keep track of outages, including push notifications when the vendor updates the status of maintenance events.
Any one of these direct vendor APIs will reduce the time your staff takes to collect, organize, transact with, and draw value from your many vendors.
2. APIs with Industry Integrators
Think of API Integrators as the industry’s centralized marketplace for multi-vendor service quoting (and selling). When you establish an API with an integrator, you have instant access to the pricing engines of all vendors who have also developed APIs with the integrator. The list of integrators includes companies like Connectbase, Masterstream, NDA Corp, Last Mile Exchange (LMX), Miso3, and many more.
API Integrators work with customers to make the service quoting process easy. They offer single sign-on options for quote requests from multiple vendors directly from your own system or a single view of all of your vendors within their tool. Their offerings are getting more sophisticated and are expanding beyond quoting to offer network design and building location APIs as well.
If you require a lot of quoting from multiple vendors, Integrators can help save you the time and effort of establishing APIs directly with each vendor. Use Integrators as a clearinghouse for quoting and, increasingly, network discovery.
Just as carriers’ global networks must interoperate through development to global standards, their programming interfaces must also cooperate. MEF, the global standards body that certifies carrier Ethernet, IP, and SD-WAN services, has a vast program of standards-based inter-carrier automation as well. Look for vendors who participate in the MEF API “Lifecycle Service Orchestration” (LSO) program. These vendors operate within MEF’s global API standards for inter-provider and enterprise APIs.
Zayo’s Devon Holt recently sat down with MEF to share Zayo’s perspective on the importance of standardized APIs. As a buyer, for example, we are able to streamline quote and order APIs in our internal portal, enabling global infrastructure scale. As a seller, Zayo can instantly partner with the MEF community without a significant development lift.
How easy is it to create an API?
Easier than you think! Vendors like Zayo offer an online API marketplace, a tool allowing companies interested in APIs the means to establish them. Using this API toolkit, software developers have all of the information they need to integrate with their vendors at their fingertips.
An API Developer Portal takes a comprehensive, proprietary portfolio of APIs to the next level. It empowers customers to self-serve on one platform, replacing antiquated methods of communication and information gathering. Using a single, one-stop-shop online platform, customers can explore, on-board and test live with existing API offerings and stay informed about upcoming developments.
If you don’t have IT developers on staff, your vendor or Integrator will walk you through a straightforward process:
- Determine which business processes would benefit most from API integration
- Determine if you’d like to build a direct vendor API or build an API using an Integrator
- Meet with your vendor or integrator to discuss your process and system needs
- The API team creates test credentials and sends them to you
- With vendor or integrator assistance, you develop the API
- Together with your vendor or integrator, the API is tested against its production credentials to ensure its secure operation
- Deploy the integration! Explore our new API Developer Portal.
Zayo's API Portal
See how our APIs can help automate your #DigitalTransformation.