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What is API management?

APIs were once coded manually, but today they are usually created via API management software. The interaction between several applications or platforms is defined and managed via an application programming interface (API). API refers to server-side software and the computer code required to implement that software.

What is API management?

API management is the process by which an organization creates, oversees, and controls application program interfaces (APIs) in a secure and scalable environment. The goal of API management is to ensure that the needs of developers and applications that may use the API are being met, concerning organizations that publish or use APIs to monitor an interface’s lifecycle.

API management needs may differ from organization to organization, but API management itself encompasses some basic functions, including security, monitoring, and version control.

API management has become prevalent due to business’s growing dependence on APIs, the increasing number of APIs upon which they depend and the administrative complexities APIs introduce. The requirements and process for building and managing APIs differ from most other applications. To be utilized properly, APIs require strong documentation, increased levels of security, comprehensive testing, routine versioning, and high reliability. The use of API management software has also increased since these requirements often go beyond the scope of the software-based projects organizations typically run.

api management

Why is it important?

APIs make a company’s data and assets available to third-party applications. APIs are also used by businesses to add a digital layer to their interactions with customers, employees, and partners. As a result, API management is critical because it allows developers and businesses to secure, scale, regulate, evaluate, and monetize API operations.

API security is the first and most important aspect of API management; it is required to safeguard APIs from unauthorized access and threats. More than just authenticating and allowing a user access to the API is required for API security. To protect sensitive data and ensure that it is not leaked or compromised, standards and policies must be developed.

API governance is another important aspect of API management that provides end-users with a consistent experience. API discoverability, lifecycle management, documentation, and reusability are also included. API governance enables developers to ensure that each API program is planned ahead of time and achieves a specified purpose that benefits the company.

The third aspect of API management, API analytics, focuses on the centralized gathering and analysis of API metrics, which is enabled by real-time monitoring and dashboards. Developers and organizations can utilize API analytics to analyze and understand how their APIs are utilized, as well as rank their performance. Developers, IT operations, and business teams will benefit from this component.

Finally, API management allows APIs to be monetized. This refers to an enterprise API’s ability to earn revenue. The production of tailored packages and plans, the productization of data, and the proper licensing of products are all examples of API monetization.

Benefits of API management

For many businesses, using APIs in their day-to-day operations is not a new concept. However, for organizations that need to manage API integrations across a growing number of their systems and applications, the time spent rebuilding these integrations from scratch can be cumbersome and draining on internal resources. API management gives enterprises greater flexibility when reusing the functionality of API integrations and helps save time and money without trading off security.

Being able to deploy and reuse integration assets quickly and efficiently is a notable benefit of using an API management solution. By managing all of your APIs on one unified and centrally visible platform, enterprises can easily share the API documentation and coding constructs between teams, significantly reducing development costs and time to market. API management platforms also help to keep existing services much safer by tracking API usage and allowing for the integration of state-of-the-art security protocols, including OAuth, JWT, and OpenID.

API management platform

In practice, an API management platform has several components:

  • Developer tools — This is the interface that developers use to define APIs, test and debug them, generate documentation, govern API usage through access and usage policies, and deploy APIs into production, staging, and quality assurance environments. Often these developer tools include a visual development environment that helps developers generate code quickly and lets multiple developers collaborate on a project. A robust API management platform also provides a developer portal to help educate and enable third-party developers. A developer portal might offer registration and onboarding capabilities that give developers access to resources, along with documentation, including examples showing how to work with the organization’s APIs. It might also support a community where developers can ask questions of peers.
  • Gateway — To handle the data exchange, an API management platform employs a server to authorize requests, pass them to back-end services, and pass responses back to the requester. It provides loose coupling between the client applications and the organization’s resources, which never directly interact. The gateway is in charge of maximizing API efficiency and minimizing downtime. In the process, the gateway can collect auditing and analytics data. Part of the job of an API platform is to make data compatible between two systems that weren’t designed to work together. To do that, the gateway needs to handle things like schema validation, and have the ability to transform data from source to back end and vice versa so that the data is transmitted in a format that each platform can use.
  • Reporting and analytics — Any organization running an API management platform needs to know how the platform is running. An API management tool should provide a dashboard to monitor and report on API usage and load, including statistics about overall hits, completed transactions, number of data objects returned, amount of compute time and other internal resources consumed, and volume of data transferred. With collected performance data, the platform may provide reports so that administrators can analyze historical data to show usage trends. Reporting data can also help the API provider optimize API performance. The platform must also generate alerts if it encounters error conditions, such as load too high or hardware or network failure. The alerting function may send out alerts directly or pass them to a network management application.

api management

Conclusion

APIs are a key component of modern websites, and API management is a central practice for organizations seeking to optimize their interface usage. API management tools allow developers to scale their creation of APIs while optimizing resource consumption and enforcing security rules. By supporting efficient API usage, API management enhances the user experience by providing access to multiple sources of information and services so the user can accomplish complex tasks all in one window.

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