Plugin vs API Integration. Which one is better?
In the realm of integration solutions, there are diverse options for connecting two systems seamlessly. These approaches encompass custom scripts, plugins, and API-based integrations. In this article, we delve into the technical distinctions between employing a plugin and opting for a standalone API integration platform. While both APIs and plugins share certain commonalities, they also present distinct technical and security variations that require careful consideration.
Let’s dive in.
What is a Plugin?
Definition: A plugin is a software module or component that alters the functionality or features of an already existing software application. Typically, it is created with the intention of expanding the capabilities of the host application.
Purpose and Use: Plugins serve as a tool for customizing or expanding the capabilities of an existing software application, without the need to alter its core code. They empower developers to introduce new features or integrate with third-party services.
Pros of Plugins:
- Easy to activate
- Variety of different options
- Price is lower
Cons of Plugins:
- Not originally part of the system design. Done via 3rd party company.
- Need to install it on your system instances
- Not easy to maintain are there are new releases for systems every year
- Cover basic integration cases
- Need to write scripts to achieve a good integration
- Questionable when it comes to security
What is an API?
Definition: An API, or Application Programming Interface, serves as a set of guidelines and protocols facilitating communication between software applications or components. It outlines the structure of requests and responses and provides insights into accessing functions or services, enabling seamless interaction between software entities.
Purpose and Use: APIs are used to achieve a seamless integration between different systems. They offer a standardized method for developers to tap into the capabilities of a software component or service, all without requiring an in-depth understanding of its internal operations. APIs are usually used to extract and load data from different systems, or execute specific functions.
Pros of API integrations:
- All integrations maintained from a single platform
- No technical knowledge required
- Cover 99% of integration use cases
- Remove the need to install anything on your systems
- Easy to maintain, modify and support
- Enhanced security
Cons of API integrations:
- Can take a bit more time to configure
- Cost a bit more than plugins
Why use ZigiOps API Integration Platform instead of a plugin?
When it comes to transferring data in real-time API is the golden standard and the one that works best with the least amount of effort. Having an integration platform like ZigiOps in place will allow you to create, modify and scale integrations without any code in a secure manner. Here are some of the key things where API integration platform excels as compared to plugins:
- When using a standalone integration platform there is no need to install anything on your source and target systems. You are not dependent on 3rd party companies that create extensions for products that were originally not part of the design.
- With a plugin the integration may not work properly if there is a new release of the source or target system. Having in mind each software has at least 4-5 new releases per year this can harm your integration
- Plugins require technical knowledge and take more time to configure how the integration will work
- Plugins have a lot of limitations when it comes to what data you want to sync. They cover basic integrations and are not suitable in the long-run
- With integration platform you have flexibility to configure and change your integration easy at any given point
- You have granular control over what gets transferred between systems and in what manner
- ZigiOps mirrors the data from source and target systems, so you don’t need to know the actual fields names to build your integration
- Integration setup with ZigiOps takes minutes as everything is predefined in integration templates and available from drop-down menus
- With an API integration platform you are using a standalone product with:
- Easy to use and configure UI
- Powerful no-code core where performance is optimized to the highest level. No matter how much data you transfer, performance will not suffer
- Security – you don’t install anything on your 3rd party software. And on top of ZigiOps doesn’t store any of the data
- Top-notch support with API experts who are part of our team and know the products by heart
Final Thoughts on Plugins vs API-based Integrations
When contemplating your integration strategy, it’s essential to thoroughly evaluate the merits and drawbacks of APIs versus plugins. In most scenarios, API-based integrations excel in covering use cases that extend beyond the typical plugin scope. When connecting two systems, it’s crucial to consider evolving requirements over time, scalability, security, and ease of maintenance. These aspects are comprehensively addressed by API integration platforms and only partially by plugins. With ZigiOps, you gain the agility to configure and fine-tune your integrations at any juncture, ensuring that your integration journey remains as dynamic as your business.
The most prominent distinction emerges from a performance and scalability perspective. Plugins, typically developed by external vendors, necessitate stringent monitoring and frequent updates, typically ranging from 3 to 4 times per year. They function as separate pieces of software, which may not always seamlessly align with the core system, potentially leading to compatibility issues. From a security standpoint, introducing external elements on top of an enterprise system carries inherent risks, as it exposes your data. However, with an API integration platform like ZigiOps, this risk is mitigated, as the solution can be deployed either on-premises or hosted on a separate cloud instance.
When making a choice, consider the advice we gave in this article and decide whin route you want to go to. Review our the security best practices we follow and schedule a demo to see how the product works in action.