Why Zato and Python make sense for complex API integrations

This article is an excerpt from the broader set of changes to our documentation in preparation for Zato.

High-level overview

Zato is a highly scalable, Python-based integration platform for APIs, SOA and microservices. It is used to connect distributed systems or data sources and to build API-first, backend applications. The platform is designed and built specifically with Python users in mind.

Zato is used for enterprise, business integrations, data science, IoT and other scenarios that require integrations of multiple systems.

Real-world, production Zato environments include:

  • A platform for processing payments from consumer devices

  • A system for a telecommunication operator integrating CRM, ERP, Billing and other systems as well as applications of the operator's external partners

  • A data science system for processing of information related to securities transactions (FIX)

  • A platform for public administration systems, helping achieve healthcare data interoperability through the integration of independent data sources, databases and health information exchanges (HIE)

  • A global IoT platform integrating medical devices

  • A platform to process events produced by early warning systems

  • Backend e-commerce systems managing multiple suppliers, marketplaces and process flows

  • B2B platforms to accept and process multi-channel orders in cooperation with backend ERP and CRM systems

  • Platforms integrating real-estate applications, collecting data from independent data sources to present unified APIs to internal and external applications

  • A system for the management of hardware resources of an enterprise cloud provider

  • Online auction sites

  • E-learning platforms

Zato offers connectors to all the popular technologies, such as REST, SOAP, AMQP, IBM MQ, SQL, Odoo, SAP, HL7, Redis, MongoDB, WebSockets, S3 and many more.

Running on premises, in the cloud, or under Docker, Kubernetes and other container technologies, Zato services are optimized for high performance - it is easily possible to run hundreds and thousands of services on typical server instances as offered by Amazon, Google Cloud, Azure or other cloud providers.

Zato servers offer high availability and no-downtime deployment. Servers form clusters that are used to scale systems both horizontally and vertically.

The software is 100% Open Source with commercial and community support available

A platform and language for interesting, reusable and atomic services

Zato promotes the design of, and helps you build, solutions composed of services which are interesting, reusable and atomic (IRA):

  • I for Interesting - each service should make its clients want to use it more and more. People should immediately see the value of using the service in their processes. An interesting service is one that strikes everyone as immediately useful in wider contexts, preferably with few or no conditions, prerequisites and obligations. An interesting service is aesthetically pleasing, both in terms of its technical usage as well as in its potential applicability in fields broader than originally envisaged. If people check the service and say "I know, we will definitely use it" or "Why don't we use it" you know that the service is interesting. If they say "Oh no, not this one again" or "No, thanks, but no" then it is the opposite.
  • R for Reusable - services can be used in different, independent business processes
  • A for Atomic - each service fulfills a single, atomic business need

Each service is deployed independently and, as a whole, they constitute an implementation of business processes taking place in your company or organization.

With Zato, developers use Python to focus on the business logic exclusively and the platform takes care of scalability, availability, communication protocols, messaging, security or routing. This lets developers concentrate only on what is the very core of systems integrations - making sure their services are IRA.

Python is the perfect choice for API integrations, SOA and microservices, because it hits the sweet spot under several key headings:

  • It is a very high level language, with syntax close to how grammar of various spoken languages works, which makes it easy to translate business requirements into implementation
  • Yet, it is a solid, mainstream and full-featured, real programming language rather than a domain-specific one which means that it offers to developers a great degree of flexibility and choice in expressing their needs
  • Many Python developers have a strong web programming / open source background which means that it is little effort to take a step further, towards API integrations and backend servers. In turn, this means that it is easy to find good people for API projects.
  • Many Python developers have knowledge of multiple programming languages - this is very useful in the context of integration projects where one is typically faced with dozens of technologies, vendors or integration methods and techniques
  • Lower maintenance costs - thanks to the language's unique design, Python programmers tend to produce code that is easy to read and understand. From the perspective of multi-year maintenance, reading and analyzing code, rather than writing it, is what most programmers do most of the time so it makes sense to use a language which makes it easy to carry out the most common tasks.

In short, Python can be construed as executable pseudo-code with many of its users already having roots in modern server-side programming so Zato, both from a technical and strategic perspective, is a natural choice for complex and sophisticated API solutions as a platform built in the language and designed for Python developers from day one.

More than services

Systems integrations commonly require two more features that Zato offers as well:

  • File transfer - allows you to move batch data between locations and to distribute it among systems and APIs

  • Single Sign-On (SSO) - a convenient REST interface lets you easily provide authentication and authorization to users across multiple systems