API’s vs Database Renovation

Database modernization


    • API: An API provides a set of protocols, tools, and definitions for building and integrating software applications. It defines how software components should interact, enabling different systems to communicate with each other. (The bridge between frontend and the application code)
    • Agile Data Centric Database: An agile database, on the other hand, refers to a database design approach that emphasizes flexibility and adaptability. It allows for iterative development, making it easier to achieve incremental improvements over time. By implementing event processing, constraints and the steps necessary to achieve a 3rd normal form, you are adding agility to the database. 

They both perform important and separate functions in a modern application. It’s the functionality that they could share which will be the focus of this post. They both can be used to enforce the business rules. An API In a program centric application likely encapsulates business logic from pre GUI (Graphical User Interface) into the API. In a data centric world a significant amount of the business logic can be built into the database and not the API.


    • API: APIs provide flexibility in terms of integrating different systems and services. They allow developers to access specific functionalities or data from one system to another..
    • Agile Data Centric Database: Agile databases provide flexibility by adapting to changing business needs and requirements. They can, depending on the level of agility achieved, accommodate  changes in data structures, relationships, and business rules without requiring significant redesign or disruption.

The API provides the connection between the database and the GUI. The database contains and maintains the companies most valuable asset. (DATA)

Development Process:

    • API: Developing an API involves defining endpoints, request-response formats, authentication mechanisms, and documentation. It typically follows a structured process and involves collaboration between teams responsible for building different components of the system.
    • Agile Data Centric Database: Agile database development follows agile principles, emphasizing iterative development, continuous feedback, and collaboration between developers, business stakeholders, and database administrators. Changes are made incrementally based on evolving requirements and user feedback.

It is very likely that it is faster to develop an API than it is to renovate your database. However speed is not the only consideration. The ongoing maintenance of the application should be considered along with the mounting technical debt. When you create an API with business logic included you create a need to maintain those business rules in 2 or more places. When you associate the business rules with a file, through an event trigger program you consolidate the business logic in one place and reduce the maintenance effort in the future.

Long term, the database of an IBM i application will need to evolve to meet these future demands, focusing on scalability, performance, security, integration, flexibility, analytics, cloud compatibility, and high availability.

In summary, APIs and agile databases potentially have overlapping purposes, they both play important roles in building modern software systems. APIs should facilitate communication and integration between software components, Agile databases support flexible and adaptive data management, including business logic while accommodating changing business needs. Together, they enable the development of dynamic and responsive applications that can evolve and scale over time.

For the sake of agility it is better to make a strategic decision to enforce business rules at the database level rather than in API’s, to avoid the programming redundancy and expense of doing it more than once.

Because it can be intimidating  making database changes, such as adding  a field or changing a field size, and especially so during normalization. I’m going to include an example created specifically for one of our customers to safely test and implement file normalization changes.


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