There’s a lot of talk about how businesses can connect their enterprise applications to the cloud, but the secret ingredient is a short little acronym: APIs.

The new Connect series from IBM, which helps businesses connect to and from the cloud by using application programming interfaces (APIs), was recently announced. I reached out to IBM Process Transformation offering manager Andy Ritchie to learn more about the new capabilities for IBM Business Process Manager (BPM) and IBM Operational Decision Manager (ODM) developers.


Business operations connect

Ritchie explains that with IBM Business Operations Connect (a capability in IBM BPM and IBM ODM that works with IBM API Connect), organizations can connect existing business processes and decisions to the cloud quickly, without needing to rewrite apps or acquire new data. With a hybrid cloud approach, some enterprise systems stay on premises and interact with data on the cloud, all through APIs.

Businesses have the power to discover, create, and publish APIs from their existing IBM BPM and IBM ODM environments. They also have the power to inspect, select, and consume managed APIs from their existing IBM BPM and IBM ODM environments.

Why try APIs?

Ritchie says many organizations have digital transformation initiatives that are “not only trying to improve how the business works, but they are also finding new and innovative ways of combining existing capabilities, data, and services to drive new solutions and business models.”

“To combine internal and external capabilities in a faster and more consistent manner, APIs are being used more and more across all industries,” he explains. “And finally, APIs are being used more now for hybrid cloud integration, which is a major benefit for processes and decisions running on IBM BPM and IBM ODM in cognitive solutions that also use IBM Bluemix®.”

With the IBM API Connect capabilities that are part of Business Operations Connect, Ritchie highlights two important points: First, you use APIs that follow the Open API Initiative to connect your existing environments (where business analysts can continue to work) with microservices and cloud applications on Bluemix. Second,  you can manage the APIs to control who has access, and at what rate, to ensure good security.

“Business Operations Connect is a concept that extends IBM BPM and IBM ODM to support the API economy and transform your existing business operations into the hybrid cloud,” Ritchie says. “IBM BPM v8.5.7.0.1 (for all Express, Standard, and Advanced editions) is already available with the free API Connect Essentials capability as a supporting program that entitles you to 50K API calls per month at no charge.” (Check out the API Connect service on IBM Bluemix.)

API Connect Essentials can also be downloaded for free to extend other IBM BPM and IBM ODM releases,” Ritchie says.

When Ritchie advises on Business Operations Connect, he points out three valuable IBM API Connect Essentials capabilities:

  • An API catalog where you can publish APIs or discover and consume APIs.
  • An API gateway, which enforces API policies.
  • A developer toolkit where you can compose and manage APIs.

Five reasons to try Business Operations Connect

Ritchie describes five main advantages to Business Operations Connect:

  • A consistent approach to hybrid cloud integration that reduces integration and assembly costs, because all the APIs are centrally managed, visible, and easy to find.
  • An improved time to market of hybrid cloud processes and applications.
  • A safe, secure, and well-managed way to use APIs.
  • Improved tools for developers and API producers. Developers can add to the API catalog and inspect, select, and test APIs before using them.
  • An improved way to implement cognitive business operations: The process, decision, and IBM Watson™ developer services are combined as managed APIs, so cloud developers can easily access a central API catalog to examine, test, and reuse those APIs.


IBM API Connect

Trying the Business Operations Connect path is easy. When organizations enter the next phase of adopting their approach, Ritchie advises that they invest time learning how to manage the new environment.

Ask the following questions

Think about ways that you might use APIs to connect your IBM BPM processes or IBM ODM decisions to a hybrid cloud environment. Consider the following questions:

  • Do you want to have hybrid cloud solutions invoke existing processes through APIs?
  • Do you want to expose new APIs that can be orchestrated by existing or new processes?
  • Do you want to invoke cognitive APIs on Bluemix from running processes or decisions?
  • Do you want to reuse existing decisions through APIs to deliver automated and intelligent cloud services?
  • Do you want to control processes and automate operations from the cloud?
  • Do you want your business to manage who can access APIs, the rate of access? Do you want a consistent security policy around APIs?
  • Do you want to create an API that combines one or more decision or process API and expose it externally or internally so that you can quickly develop new innovative solutions?

Get started

You can start now and get IBM Business Operations Connect plus a 1-hour IBM Connect digital meetup, a 3-day IBM Connect QuickStart workshop about the Connect series from IBM, and IBM API Connect services on Bluemix — all at no cost through December 31, 2016! Get started here.

Get more tips from Andy Ritchie and Brian Petrini, an IBM Business Process Manager technical offering manager, on the BPM/Dev developer center.

 

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