Technology | Integration

Integration in Atlas Play – Our Approach to Using APIs

Our API Approach

Modern business has created and solved countless problems using countless systems. How do you get these systems working together in a way you can understand and control? How do you make sure that systems are interacting how you want them to? The simple answer is: API technology.

Atlas loves the Open API approach because we want systems to play nicely together. Not just our own SaaS solutions, but all systems that any business might use.

It’s easy to butt heads with management over what systems should be used, whether investment in new systems is worth the cost and whether time and resources sunk into old systems will be wasted if you push for something new. With the correct use of API technologies, these problems melt away.

Finding the right APIs

By using API marketplaces, such as TM Forum’s, you can find ready made APIs fit for your needs and ready to be slotted into Atlas. We believe in the open approach and we want you to have the flexibility to get a company’s systems talking to each other with the minimal amount of steps possible.

Whether you’re trying to integrate a popular software platform or something bespoke, there are APIs out there that fit almost every niche. Whether that’s open source freely available APIs or bespoke solutions created by dedicated developers, any integration goal you might have will be catered for.

Making use of APIs

APIs can be tested initially using platforms such as Postman, to verify that your chosen API receives and returns the expected output, that it behaves correctly with different authorisation levels and under different circumstances.

Within Atlas Play you can create dummy processes where you can use the API to transmit and request data using specific types of tasks. Then you can use that knowledge to further integrate your systems with your processes.

You can take APIs that do what you need them to do and slot them directly into your Atlas processes, allowing for you to test the integration of systems without ever putting the burden on IT. Atlas is designed with usability in mind, so being able to test out solutions to problems like integration without creating extra resource drain is key.

How Atlas Play handles APIs

There are various API protocols such as SOAP or REST. These protocols are the rules that govern how APIs allow systems to integrate and communicate with each other. There are similarities that most share and differences that you’ll need to investigate as you’re learning.

Atlas Play uses Graphql, a query language for transferring data over internet protocols such as HTTP. With Graphql a data schema is created first, enabling speedy development of code. This means that in Atlas, back-end and front-end coding can begin at the same time. Allowing us to keep a fast pace and enabling us to effectively iterate development.

One way APIs can be put to use in Atlas Play is using External Service Calls. An external service call task can be used to call in data from an external source, to be added or utilised within your process. They can also be used to send data to an external source or trigger an action in an external source.

You can also use APIs in what we call an External Call Select Option Field. This is similar to an external service call but instead offers a select set of options that user can choose to input. Each option has the ability to call data from an external source, send data or trigger an action in an external source.

Using APIs to into integrate with ERP

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are complex, expensive and costly to implement in terms of both time and money. But they’re important and the people who invest in them don’t want them to go to waste. That’s why so many people in management will fight tooth and nail against change that might mean that perceived technical debt has no benefit.

So what’s the solution? You make those ERP systems work better. Within Atlas you can use APIs that help complex systems communicate effortlessly with each other. Finding these APIs is as simple as heading to somewhere like the MS Azure Dynamics Open API marketplace.

Technical debt doesn’t become a victim of the sunk cost fallacy but instead can be built into the brave new directions you want to push. APIs mean clunky old systems can work efficiently in the background, providing valuable service without becoming obsolete.

Making the most out of Product Lifecycle Management

Often the forgotten third pillar of enterprise IT, beside ERP and MOMI, product lifecycle management (PLM) systems are fast coming to the forefront. In a modern world where shared goals such as net-zero carbon ambitions are bringing diverse industries together with one aim, PLM is perfectly placed to make a huge impact.

A PLM system on its own is a great thing. That same system integrated properly throughout a business can produce foundational change. A product’s lifecycle will run through design, prototyping, development, production, distributions and on to disposal and back to design again. Each step in that journey needs to be tracked, understood, developed and improved.

These steps can be integrated to relevant systems using APIs, giving you more data on every part of the process, more insight into lost resources and more opportunities to increase revenue while minimising waste.

Design systems can be integrated into 3D modelling systems, allowing you to prototype virtual products before you ever commit resources to production. You can integrate your inventory management systems into billing and finance systems, ensuring resource management every step of the way. With PLM properly integrated, every moment of a product’s lifecycle is in hand.

Integrating your whole supply chain

Supply chain integration means bringing together people and systems that might often be at odds, into one unit with a common goal. By integrating every system that manages a company’s supply chain, you can make that happen.

Every company’s supply chain is different but you could potentially be looking at a diverse range of suppliers, all with relationships that need to be managed. A shop floor or shop floors with employees and systems that need to work together seamlessly. Networks of distributors and retailers that all have their own goals and KPIs. And finally the customers themselves.

If your shop floor control systems don’t talk to your suppliers, you could be short on supplies or completely overloaded. On the other hand, without inventory management systems talking to distributors, products could be sat on your shelf rather than retailers. CRM systems that aren’t feeding back customer insight to R&D departments mean valuable data is being harvested and left to fade in disconnected systems.

Atlas brings all of these elements into one space, allowing you to map out end to end processes that ensure every link in your supply chain is strong and connected to every other link. Systems achieve automation and efficiency is the result.