Understanding APIs

Growing your business on the web and on mobile relies on the ability to communicate, integrate, and connect your products and services with different software programs. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the key to doing this well—with the most flexibility, simplicity, safety, and control.

What are APIs

An Application programming interface (API) is a set of tools, definitions, and protocols for accessing application software and services. It’s the stuff that lets your products and services communicate with other products and services without having to constantly build new connectivity infrastructure.

APIs can be private (for internal use only), partnered (shared with specific partners to provide additional revenue streams), or public (allowing third parties to develop apps that interact with your API to foster innovation). Choosing to share your APIs has several benefits, including:

  • Creating new revenue channels or extending existing ones.
  • Expanding the reach of your brand.
  • Facilitating open innovation or improved efficiency through external development and collaboration.

What about RESTful APIs, and SOAP?

Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Representational State Transfer (REST) are two efforts that have helped make APIs simpler in their design and more useful in their implementation. As web APIs became more popular, SOAP was developed to help standardize message formats and requests—it is a protocol specification that makes it easier for apps in different environments or written in different languages to communicate. REST, on the other hand, is an architectural style. REST relies on 6 guiding principles that are ultimately simpler to follow than a prescribed protocol. For this reason, RESTful APIs are becoming more prevalent than SOAP.

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What can you do with APIs?

APIs are about integration—the connection of data, applications, and devices across your IT organization so that all of your technologies can better communicate and work together. You lose time and money when your technologies can’t talk to one another or anyone else’s. APIs, along with distributed integration and containers, are a key feature of agile integration.

Agile integration is an architectural approach to your integration platform that emphasizes a small IT footprint; is highly scalable and available; and has well-defined, reusable, and well-managed endpoints. We believe the future of connected systems must do more than just support collaboration between teams and their technologies—it has to help encourage it. As technological change occurs more frequently, we believe that agile integration is the best way to help your business transform.

Why choose Red Hat?

Red Hat provides modular, lightweight, and comprehensive API solutions that are open source, open standards, and available on-premise, in the cloud, or in hybrid environments. Good API implementation and management solutions should help you focus on your unique business goals. Our API solutions focus on reusability, IT agility, and a management interface that helps you measure, monitor, and scale, so it can grow as you do.

As with all open source projects, Red Hat contributes code and improvements back to the upstream codebase, sharing advancements along the way. Of course, collaborating with a community is about more than developing code. Collaboration is about the freedom to ask questions and offer improvements—that’s the open source way and the power of the open organization. It’s why Red Hat has been a trusted provider of enterprise infrastructure for over 25 years.

APIs and Red Hat


A distributed, cloud-native integration platform that connects APIs—on-premise, in the cloud, and anywhere in between.


Make it easy to share, secure, distribute, control, and monetize your APIs for internal or external users.

There’s a lot more to do with APIs