This blog accompanies our series of webinars on the ROI of API Management. This second edition discusses increasing IT efficiency by managing APIs at scale, ultimately affecting the bottom-line and the ROI of your API initiatives.
Even if your organization only utilizes a handful of APIs at the moment, that is likely to change over time. The API channel is rapidly becoming the main outlet through which businesses are reaching their customers and partners. As a consequence, enterprises are seeing a rapid growth in their API products, as well as a higher cadence of API product updates.
While that success, in itself, is great news, it also brings about challenges and concerns. How do you ensure the quality and consistency of APIs as you scale? How do you maintain security and compliance with critical requirements like corporate security policies and, potentially, the need to fulfill obligations stemming from external regulation?
From a management and efficiency perspective, it’s not uncommon to have concerns about how to keep everything in check. After all, APIs are not just interface definitions; they may actually provide access to valuable enterprise resources, hence they should be configured properly — preferably with a level of consistency across the enterprise to allow more effective review and runtime monitoring.
Because of the above-mentioned concerns, it is best to look at API products as a whole, taking all of following aspects into consideration:
API Interface – What does the API offer or do?
API Implementation – Where is the API available, and how is it used?
API Access and Security – Ensuring that only authorized clients have access, preventing access with malicious intent, making sure data is protected, etc.
API Licenses – Under what agreed conditions can the API be accessed? (Subscription or monetization plans, for example).
From an efficiency perspective, you should address all of the above aspects to make it easier for a developer to use or consume the API.
Related blog >> What Are APIs?
From a perspective of scale, the objectives shown in the diagram below provide a good foundation to work from.
As you increase the number of APIs across business units and geographies, you look for ways to ensure a speedy delivery process, while also ensuring a level of consistency and compliance. Making the whole process easily repeatable is a good start to ensuring IT efficiency.
Essentially, what you are looking for is automation. Look for common tasks, steps, or elements and capture those into automated configurations such as templates and policies. Consistency is then ensured by automatically applying these configurations across collections of similar APIs. For example, APIs that are classified as “critical” will automatically have a specific set of policies applied.
Common Concern: “When I create the first iteration of my API product, I want critical features to become part of the configuration automatically.”
How to Address: Allow for automated, metadata-driven API product creation.
Common Concern: “I want to see my API product interface retain or, if required, adjust its critical features across environments.”
How to Address: Automated (managed) API product promotion.
Common Concern:“I want to ensure that my API product configuration is correct before it’s promoted to production.”
How to Address: Allow governance around API product promotion (stakeholder approval).
All of the common concerns listed above, and the ways to address them, tie very closely into the concept of full lifecycle API management (flAPIm).
From an Akana perspective, flAPIm is approached from an integrated API lifecycle management perspective, which is regarded as the foundation underlying all other aspects.
Automating the API product delivery process is key. Having this process integrate with the wider CI/CD environment reduces the amount of manual configuration, which is bound to increase delivery speed while ensuring quality and consistency.
Automation should allow for manual intervention where needed, for example where an API product is promoted from non-production to production environment. In other words, a modest yet effective level of governance is applied: pretty "lean and mean", but still in place wherever it’s critical.
For in-depth discussion of these capabilities, as well as a product demo, we encourage you to view the on-demand webinar "Increasing Your IT Efficiency by Managing APIs at Scale," or check out our comprehensive guide to API ROI.
If you're curious on how your API strategy measures up against our benchmarking repository, and how much value can be created with a properly-managed API strategy, begin your analysis with our KPI Test Drive.
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