APIs are the glue that binds the modern computing world together, and are a crucial part of modern industry, or industry 4.0. By investing in APIs, companies open up to a vast new world of innovation, automation and ultimately profitability.
What is an API?
With API we mean an Application Programming Interface, which essentially translates to a way for computers to talk to each other.
Practically, it is a web address that either humans or machines can access. By sending the right information (security credentials, or details regarding the type of information you would like to receive), computers behind those web addresses will send some form of information back.
Using Turbulent Flux as an example, a client might want to send some information to us regarding an offshore oil well – say they want to run a cool down scenario. How would they go about this?
First, they would send the cool down scenario to our cloud-based computers via our API. This might be done through a user interface (which essentially masks our API) or directly by sending a http POST request to:
https://example.com/oilco/scenarios/cool-down-scenario (example url ONLY)
The details of http POST requests are not central in this discussion, yet to define, they are standard ways of sending information over the internet, for example, you make an http request when you perform a Google search.
The kind of information that would need to be included in this request are e.g. an API key, in other words a password to access the API, as well as specific information about the cool down scenario, such as valve openings and the time between each valve opening adjustment.
This should be an almost instantaneous step and after making the request a “human-friendly” response such as “Scenario configuration saved!” if using the UI,
or an even friendlier response if you’re a computer accessing the API directly, such as:
This kind of response may appear a little frightening to many humans but it is nothing short of Shakespeare to computers. With this, a computer has all the information it needs to make decisions and take further action.
One such action may be to actually start a simulation, which for us humans using the user interface would be to click a start button. For computers, it is about accessing another web url, this time:
https://example.com/oilco/scenarios/cool-down-scenario/start (example url ONLY)
This would return a similar message with information regarding the status of the simulation, i.e. whether it has started or if more information is needed to start the simulation.
Similar urls can be accessed to get the status of a running simulation or to retrieve results from a previously run simulation.
How is all this beneficial?
By providing a streamlined way for information to be transferred between companies in a secure and fast way it unlocks the ability to automate processes. Perhaps every time a choke valve is adjusted it triggers a simulation to see what may happen in the next few hours, and automatically flag any potential problems well before they occur.
APIs make information accessible; data can easily be shared securely with anyone in possession of the right credentials. Information from e.g. a cool down scenario could easily be shared with technical personnel involved in the decision-making process. Perhaps machine learning systems need access to data in order to train their models; they can access information they need directly without human intervention.
Monitoring capabilities are enhanced. As an example, monitoring software and systems that are located on premise can be enhanced with external systems through additional computing power. Perhaps a real time Virtual Flow Meter (another application we offer) is running in parallel with monitoring systems and could pick up anomalies that on-premise systems may have missed.
Without APIs, communicating the information in the quantity and detail required to achieve the above-mentioned aspects would be impossible, or at least infeasible as systems would be frustratingly slow and insights would be lost.
Contact us directly on email@example.com for more information on our API. Or if you would like to get stuck right into it, visit https://turbulentflux.com/api/ to see how we handle cloud-based oil simulations.