While technology stacks vary from enterprise to enterprise, one thing remains constant – applications needing secure access to both internal and public datasets. Achieving this unlocks the ability to discover the missing pieces of the puzzle that enables smarter, more accurate decisions, and ultimately greater customer outcomes. And this is where modern API management comes into its own. Major platforms all offer various services in this space, from Azure to AWS, IBM to Google, Mulesoft to Boomi.
Whether you are brushing up on your knowledge or are sponsoring a project requiring API management, this article provides an overview of the types of API management and reasons for investing in modern API management.
Reasons for investing in modern API management
The choices of which API management solution to use can seem a little overwhelming. Yes, API management platforms are generally industry agnostic, but how they are used and implemented aren’t necessarily.
Understanding the types of API management you’re requiring or may need in the future can help you decide. Whether you opt for one of the incumbents (knowing you’ll have greater confidence in the longevity of the provider) or you choose one of the fast-growing start-ups (for their service and response to feedback), we’ve listed some of the reasons why you might want to invest in modern API management, that may help you if you’re still undecided.
Manage different release cycles (Bimodal development)
To be competitive, relevant, and grow market share, organisations need the capacity for accelerated innovation in the customer-facing parts of the business, using rapid development and agile methodologies. However, businesses are often locked into longer release cycles at the back-end, even after they have flipped to an ‘agile’ structure.
Implementing an API management layer provides a stable interface that the front-end can build off, removing the dependency on back-end release cycles. RESTful APIs or Websocket APIs can then be implemented in the manager and used without necessarily requiring back-end changes. Changes in the back-end implementation are also masked from the front-end, making the development cycles independent.
There comes a time when the cost-benefit ratio of maintaining a core application reaches the tipping point. As an application reaches that point, modernisation principles can be implemented to de-risk the situation. This situation is often referred to as a common pattern - the desire to replace or retire a legacy system.
Implementing an API layer enables the ecosystem built on top of the API manager to continue while the actual source of information changes. The API provides an effective way to provide a service-oriented design approach without necessarily being able to technically implement this at the back-end. This then enables functionality to be moved from system to system without breaking consumers (other systems or departments reliant on that application or its information.
Published external interface
Providing an API management layer enables organisations to provide a secure, documented interface that external organisations can use, such as consumers, partners, and clients. Some have likened this layer to a form of a marketplace, where parties with appropriate access can pick and subscribe to the APIs they require to help achieve the outcomes they desire.
With appropriate consent, the organisation can become an effective information wholesaler – providing the data to various external parties. These parties can then use that information to provide the ultimate customer view, which is a common model in the public sector.
In a B2B context, a published external interface enables organisations to provide a machine-usable interface so that their customers can interface their information systems directly.
Common data model
Implementing an API management layer enables an organisation to create a virtual common view of important entities, for example, a single view of the customer. The API layer draws information from multiple sources and presents a single unified view of the entity. The organisation can then innovate and build on that virtual view without worrying about the details of implementation and location of data.
Using such a method means that data is stored and maintained by its department, which means the context to which that data was collected is both respected and preserved. Earlier methods of sharing data across an organisation, i.e. data lakes, were prone to stripping data of its context, which would then have to be recreated to extract the same level of value for the business.
The common benefits of modern API management
While we have just inferred some of the benefits of investing in a modern API management layer, below are three other significant benefits to consider.
The API management layer can implement security to ensure consumers only have access to information they have been given rights. These consumers are not able to connect directly to the back-end systems. Instead, consumers need to go through the management layer, which provides that additional layer of protection. Security can be managed and embedded as part of the implementation rather than within the back-end systems themselves.
Performance and monitoring
It’s possible that some systems plugging into the API layer were made in the pre-cloud era, which means they weren’t made to handle the volume of modern web traffic or have the capability to monitor performance the way businesses do today.
As API management platforms have tools and monitors in place to understand and control access to the back-end systems, it is possible to look at metrics such as API call volumes and performance without needing to build this into the various back-end systems.
Documentation to aide and drive usage
The API management system provides a clear definition of the interfaces available that consumers can use to understand what information is available and how to access it. This lowers the level of technical ability required to use various APIs, while increasing the reliability of the interface.
Discover hidden insights, opportunities, and customers.
Businesses around the world are reimagining who they are and how they show up in the market. For many, this means becoming a digital platform for their customers, which opens them up to generating new channels to operate in, attracting and uncovering new customers, and surfacing new insights that grow relationships and mutual value with existing customers. The right approach and implantation of an API management layer is the best springboard that an organisation can use to create a truly connected business and drive future successes.
If you’re interested in discussing API management and any of the points covered in this article, please contact us below. Even if we don’t end up working together, we love having conversations and helping businesses put their best foot forward.