The difference between M3 APIs and ION APIs

Jul 14 2020

The way that M3 APIs are accessed has changed with newer Infor Cloud Editions. In this article, ComActivity’s tech team leader, Akash Agrawal, takes you through the highlights…

What is an API?

Before we talk about M3 API and ION APIs, a brief introduction to API’s might be helpful. “API “is the acronym for Application Programming Interface. which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other.

Here is a common analogy: Imagine you’re sitting at a table in a restaurant with a menu of choices to order from. The kitchen is the part of the “system” that will prepare your order. What is missing is the critical link to communicate your order to the kitchen and deliver your food back to your table. That’s where the waiter or API comes in. The waiter is the messenger – or API – that takes your request or order and tells the kitchen – the system – what to do. Then the waiter delivers the response back to you; in this case, it is the food.

How it works from an M3 perspective

To explain that in systems perspective, let’s say Acme Corp have a CRM application which maintains customer information and Acme uses Infor M3 to manage the orders for the customer. Instead of requiring a user to key a new customer into both applications, the process can be automated so that the customer is created in M3 using an M3 API whenever a new customer is setup in the CRM application.

APIs allow developers to save time by taking advantage of a platform’s implementation to do the business logic. This helps reduce the amount of code developers need to create, and it also helps create more consistency across apps for the same platform in a secure way.

About Infor M3 APIs

With that concept in mind, Infor M3 has a set of APIs which can be used for various system / data integration purposes and can be used to extract information out of M3 or to update data back into M3. There is even the facility to create your own APIs to retrieve data using the Custom API feature.

You can find the list of APIs (and associated transaction) available in your M3 version by visiting the programs MRS001 and MRS002. Another easy way to find API information, which I personally prefer, is through the Metadata Publisher (MDP). With M3 Cloud Edition, MDP even has the functionality for testing your API transactions as well.

Similarly, other applications under Infor OS (IDM, Mongoose etc) have their own set of APIs.

About Infor ION APIs

ION API, (shorthand for ION API Gateway), is just a different way of accessing the same set of Infor M3 APIs. They are not limited to Infor M3 – it is a higher-level API interface to all the applications in the Infor OS.

A gateway to more than just M3 APIs

Infor introduced the concept of ION API Gateway with Infor OS. Acting as a kind of brokering service for consumers and providers, the ION API provides secured gateway to the applications in Infor OS using OAuth 2.0 authentication, instead of the previously used business-engine based authentication.

Client applications which need to call Infor application APIs, can now call it via the ION API Gateway rather than by calling many different API servers directly as they did in the past. Client applications cannot use the gateway unless it is registered as an authorized client application.

While single tenant cloud customers still have option to continue accessing M3 API as before, multi-tenant cloud customers, the ION API Gateway is the only recommended way.

In simple words, to call an M3 API (or other Infor application specific API) in the multi-tenant cloud world you’ll have to go through ION API gateway – basically just a change in how we access the same set of APIs.

Use of IPS (aka M3 Web Services)

The latest feature of ION API suite in the cloud is that M3 Web Services (or IPS in cloud edition, which stands for Interactive Program Services) are also now integrated under the same umbrella to provide common authentication mechanism. As you may know, M3 web services are an alternative method of automating M3 functionality to complement missing standard API functions.

 

ION API User Interface

The ION API Gateway also provides an HTML-based user interface inside Infor OS. It uses the Swagger open-source framework to provide the user with full API documentation and the facility to test their API calls. This gives a better UI than what we currently have through Metadata Publisher.

The screenshot below is from the multi-tenant cloud.

ION API can be accessed via the Infor OS app switcher by users with IONAPI-User security role. The application comes with functions for:

  • ‘Available APIs’ where you can see each of the Infor or non-Infor applications provisioned with available APIs listed, including Infor M3.
  • ‘Authorized Apps’ which allows the user to register Infor and non-Infor applications to authenticate against the ION API gateway and call APIs.
  • ‘Configuration’ for some general settings that can be applied on the ION API gateway.
  • ‘API Metadata’ which has the list of APIs that can be used by external systems to query the available applications on your environment.
  • ‘Monitoring’ where you can run a health check on the ION API gateway and find a centralized logs of all API calls and whether they were successful

Availability Chart

The table below describes the availability of API features across different Infor M3 releases:

The move to ION API has many advantages, the major one being everything is in one place, making it much easier for the external systems to interact with any Infor OS  Application.

If you would like to learn more about Infor’s cloud solutions – get in touch with us.

You might also like to read:

4 ways of Gaining Self-sufficiency in the Infor Multi-tenant Cloud

Tech Blog: The Evolution of Extending M3

ComActivity Infor Cloud Solutions

 

Akash Agrawal

ComActivity Technical Team Leader
Akash has decades of technical experience, and is passionate about his team’s achievements. If you would like to speak to Akash – let us know

We write about Infor technology, ERP & Cloud news plus host the occasional Webinar.

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