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APIs are critical in the enterprise today. But what are enterprise APIs? And what API capabilities do you need in the enterprise?
That's what we break down in this blog.
An enterprise API is an API used to connect enterprise applications and backend resources. In the enterprise, APIs are critical as businesses adopt new technologies and applications.
An API today is not just an API. It's a service. And it's even a product.
There's no need to make all sorts of arguments about SOAP vs. REST APIs or JSON vs. XML. Developers are less focused on protocol specificity. They're more focused on how APIs can meet a wide range of business needs.
The modern use of the term “API” originally implied a RESTful service. But over the last few years, pragmatism has won out over purism. The vast majority of APIs use HTTP as a transport. Pure RESTful services are in a small minority.
Most people would now accept that the term “API” can refer to services over many protocols (e.g., HTTP, AMQP, JMS) with a wide range of exchange patterns (RESTful, RPC, synchronous, asynchronous) and an even wider array of content types, the most common still being JSON, XML, and specific XML variants like SOAP, Accord, HL7, and more.
Today, APIs enable microservices in the enterprise. While APIs are consumer-centric, microservices are application-centric. APIs enable you to drive new business opportunities by sharing business capabilities with partners and external developers. They also enable you to deploy microservices to deliver a specific feature for an application in a massively scalable and fully independent way.
We are now starting to see companies adopting the kinds of concepts and technologies that have made APIs popular as a business construct inside their enterprise boundaries.
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APIs enable modular programming. In the enterprise, this API capability is important. It allows two applications to talk to each other. And that means you can integrate applications and leverage existing technologies easily. This is especially important for building microservices.
Here are the main API capabilities that you need in the enterprise.
Enterprise APIs need to deliver cost and time savings. In short, they need to maximize API ROI.
They do that by enabling microservices.
Microservices eliminates duplication of effort. Instead of constantly recreating the same assets, your developer scan reuse assets from a shared library.
This makes new application development faster and less expensive. You can use existing services — connected via APIs — instead of building from scratch each time.
Enterprise APIs need to ensure data consistency. They do that by creating a single source of truth.
Every time a developer builds the same function in a different application, they increase the risk of getting different results from what is supposed to be the same thing.
Take a simple but all too common example of a customer database. Every company has at least one database of all their customers. But nearly every time a new application comes along, the designers decide that the existing customer database doesn’t quite fit their needs. So, they build a new one. Sometimes they try to synchronize data. Sometimes, they just start from scratch.
What if there were a single source of truth about customer data, and this source of truth could be readily extended to meet the requirements of new applications? This way, companies would only have to update changing data in one location, and customers would be able to much more easily access consolidated information.
The challenge here is two-fold:
This is an area where modern developer portals can help enormously.
Enterprise APIs need to connect backend systems with modern applications.
Technologies may become obsolete, but they never die. The mainframe is the classic example. Many proclaim it's dead — but it never dies. Instead, there are mainframe modernization initiatives. The mainframe and digital transformation can go hand-in-hand.
Why are legacy technologies like the mainframe still around? Partly it’s because of the difficulty of replacing old applications. Systems come to rely on them and use highly proprietary mechanisms to integrate with them, making it very difficult to replace core systems.
What if you could abstract the backend implementation from the consuming application by putting a service layer between them?
What we’re seeing today is that more of the backend systems themselves are surfacing standards-based interfaces (services) that can be readily consumed by modern applications. This reduces direct dependencies and making it easier to contemplate replacing — or at least modernizing — the original applications. The trick is making it easier for developers to consume these services than it is to directly integrate with the backend.
Enterprise APIs need governance.
An effective governance program will often mean the difference between success and failure. At its core, an effective governance program helps ensure you build the right things (services), build them right, and build them to run right.
As API adoption moves into the enterprise, we have to ensure that we manage the proliferation of APIs properly. In an external API initiative, companies have product managers in charge of their APIs and a business justification for new APIs and changes to their APIs. This is governance. These same principles apply inside the enterprise boundary.
It's important to consider the needs for your enterprise APIs across the lifecycle.
To be successful with APIs in the enterprise, you need the right API platform. And that platform is Akana.
That's because Akana does more than manage your APIs. It provides the easiest way to accelerate digital transformation in the enterprise.
With Akana, you can:
Akana was built to manage enterprise APIs. And Akana comes with everything you need to do so.
Need an internal developer portal and an external API marketplace? Akana gives you an integrated portal and marketplace out-of-the-box.
Want to deploy cloud APIs, even across multiple clouds? Akana's API gateway makes it easy deploy in hybrid cloud and multicloud environments.
Need insights on how APIs are performing? Akana's API analytics give you the business metrics that matter.
See for yourself why Akana is the best API platform for enterprise APIs.
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