API Management Concept
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APIs are crucial participants in the digital world, and without them, most software applications wouldn’t function as we expect. They enable applications to access data and interact with each other, allowing them to share their services. By sharing this data, organizations can easily integrate disparate systems, saving time for developers. 

A crucial aspect of ensuring that APIs work as they should is API management, and according to the 2020 State of Integration Report, 77% of respondents have invested in API management. We spoke to the experts to understand what API management is and its benefits for enterprise organizations. 

Understanding API Management

Enterprises implement API management strategies to speed up development and reduce time to market in meeting new customer demands. According to Luciano Panaro, Lead Software Engineer at New York-based digital video infrastructure company Zype, “API management is a set of processes that enable companies to standardize their API creation, publication, monetization and analysis.”

APIs are the glue that maintains communication between microservices. The goal of API management is to create an ecosystem that manages the lifecycle of an API, ensuring that they are secure and consumable. 

Asanka Abeysinghe, Chief Tech Evangelist of California-based WSO2, explains that API management also serves to “link API providers and consumers; and connect the business of APIs and technology of APIs.”

API management platforms help organizations to centralize control of their APIs and ensure they meet the required standards. A typical API management solution will have the following components:

  • API gateway: A single point of entry for all connected systems and services. It is the gatekeeper for all APIs and enforces API security and authentication protocols. 
  • API developer portal: A hub for developers to access API documentation. These portals make it easier for developers to locate APIs and streamline communication between teams. 
  • API lifecycle management: A way to manage APIs from creation until retirement. 
  • Analytics: Usage metrics that measure API response time and overall performance. 

Related Article: When to Use an API vs. an SDK

Benefits of API Management

APIs can reduce the time spent building custom integrations from scratch, but there are also far more benefits of establishing an API management strategy. API management is especially valuable for product and engineering teams since it helps to solve “concerns such as the authentication and access control of their APIs, standardizing documentation within a single platform and allowing seamless monetization and usage analytics collection and management,” says Panaro. 

Kelly Maltman, Head of Marketing at digitalML points out that API management gives organizations “the ability to encapsulate your existing business capabilities and technical functions and expose them as easy-to-use APIs, away from any technical debt.” Technical debt can occur when enterprises prioritize speed over implementing proper code and lead to problems down the road. With API management, there is less technical debt which needs to be paid back.

Maltman explains that API management enables organizations to deliver business capabilities and technical features as reliable APIs while maintaining control of who can use them at each stage of the lifecycle. API infrastructure can also be provided to everyone within an enterprise, whether internal or external stakeholders. 

API Management Use Cases

APIs are used to connect data and backend resources for easier integration. API management ensures the protection of that data, no matter the industry. 

According to Abeysinghe, there are four use cases for API management: “direct monetization by exposing business capabilities internally and externally; indirect monetization with partners; connecting physical and digital business operations, and to serve as the backbone for digital transformation.”

Exposing Business Capabilities

APIs can help organizations uncover new business opportunities by exposing their services to potential external customers and strengthening their internal capabilities by making them more efficient in product development or reducing the time needed to create customized applications. 

Indirect Monetization

APIs can provide a source of revenue for enterprises by enabling them to charge for API usage. However, APIs also facilitate indirect monetization through increased brand awareness and marketing exposure. 

Connecting Physical and Digital Operations

As more businesses enter the digital space and use web applications to augment their physical offices and stores, APIs can connect physical services to mobile devices. 

The Basis for Digital Transformation

Finally, businesses continue to accelerate their digital transformation by integrating technology into their business processes and culture. APIs can accelerate that integration and reduce the challenges that companies face in this process. 

For any enterprise in the digital world, having an established API management strategy can maximize the capabilities of current services and have visibility of the APIs that connect their applications.