November 1, 2021

APIs in an IoT Deployment: Why they Matter

APIs (Application Programming Interface) might sound tough and maybe even fell like they’ll be a difficult and painful implementation, but the fact is that APIs are nothing new. Neither is IoT. Both can be simple to understand and the combination of APIs and IoT is something beautiful. Let me tell you why.

The development and management of APIs is crucial in the world of IoT. IoT is a complex market with many different agents/players, with each one responsible for a specific part of the value chain. Thanks to APIs each of these blocks can be easily integrated – if you have the knowledge.

Setting up APIs helps companies grow more quickly by integrating disparate systems. They allow all communications between the device and the rest of the ecosystem to be performed in an automated way: the devices are connected and communicate, and you can manage the entire lifecycle.

So, why should you care about APIs?

Most developers have come across APIs in their work, and if you do work with them, you already know how important they are. But for those who haven’t worked with them, the question might be, ‘What are APIs, why are they important – and why are they important to IoT?”

To put it simply, APIs are a set of requirements that determine how applications speak to one another. They’ve been around for years and if you have a computer or smartphone or tablet, it’s APIs that make is possible for information to be transferred between programs, such as copying and pasting from one application to another.

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Think of APIs as a waiter and a chef in a restaurant. The waiter is the API. You give him or her your order or instructions and they go to the kitchen and get you what you ordered from the chef. The result is that you get what you want.

Nauris Upitis Senior Customer Engagement Manager Tele2 IoT

You should care about APIs because they allow you to automate things around your deployment and the platform itself. This means that you can forget about having to go into the platform and doing things to the subscriber base. Instead, you can automate things on your own backend or server or whatever you have on your side. Maybe you have your own web portal that you want to sell to your customers so they can do something, maybe you want it for your own platform where you already have automation, and you want to connect 2CONTROL (Cisco IoT Control Center). The APIs will make sure it works.

How can we add automation to your business?

When it comes to what is being automated it really depends on what the customer wants. One of our customers has their own web portal where they can steer subscribers to other networks. So, let’s say one operator goes down; they go to their platform and steer the subscriber to a different communication plan that doesn’t include that operator that went down – instead it goes on networks that are operational. This prevents dropped connections and removes the danger of not getting data you need, which is particularly important for mission critical solutions, such as healthcare, utilities, or banking, where it is vital that you don’t lose your connection.

Of course, it all depends on how you build the API – you can build it so that you just get a mail when something happens because maybe being off-line here and there isn’t really going to impact your IoT deployment. This would work, for example, if you’re just tracking vehicles – then a dropped connection won’t matter short term because your data will be saved on the device and will uploaded when you get back online.  Or maybe your APIs take some other action, such as changing the plan on 2CONTROL (Cisco IoT Control Center) when a particular event occurs.

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What APIs do is allow you to tailor and automate your needs, so instead of having to go in and do things manually, things will happen automatically. You can pick and choose how you want things to work.

A lot of IoT projects have a number of different suppliers, each with their own characteristics – and you might want to make them standardized, because the point of interaction between these different parts will be the API, which will put the devices in contact with the network, the gateways, etc. In this way, it will be possible to build new integrated solutions on the services offered by the service provider.

If a customer is used to using APIs it’s not a problem implementing them. If they want to start using them and don’t have any knowledge – which is often a big concern for customers and rightly so – they need to have a team internally develop and maintain the system or bring in consultants. This is because going into the portal and setting things up in a smart way and knowing how to do it is what takes some time and training. If we look at 2CONTROL, it can be challenging to understand how to set things up for optimal benefits, but with a bit of training it will go much more smoothly, and you will get the full benefits offered. We are here to guide our customers in this process.

If you’d like to learn more about 2CONTROL and APIs and how they can help your business, please get in touch.

Nauris Upitis
Senior Customer Engagement Manager
Tele2 IoT

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