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Buzzword Soup: API

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As part of our continuing series “Buzzword Soup,” every so often we explore a popular term in the cloud and communications industries.  Because many terms are used loosely by vendors, analysts and commentators, we find it helpful to draft simple English, non-technical explanations for words and phrases that might otherwise be confusing or misunderstood.  This week, we explore “API.”

What is it?

An application programming interface (API) is a specification for use as an interface to allow software components to communicate with each other. A software company releases its API to the public so that other software developers can design products that integrate with, pull data from or control its service.

How is it used?

The use of API’s can make various software tools work together seamlessly without any effort on the part of the user.  For example, when you enter your credit card on your florist’s website to send flowers to mom, the website uses an API to validate your credit card information with the bank.  When the transaction is approved, you receive an order number and verification.  Although you never left the florist’s website, one or more different software programs was involved in completing the transaction.  API’s are also used extensively in social networking.  For example, when you post a photo on Facebook and it automatically generates a Tweet, that’s an API.

M5’s Take

We believe that applications that work together increase the power and productivity of both.  We use API’s to invoke specific functions within our cloud based phone system.  For example, if you use our click-to-dial for Outlook or your browser, an API is at work.  We also make our API available for developers who want to integrate their systems, like CRM and applicant tracking systems with our business phone system.