Image Blog Reality Lifecycle Management
June 9, 2013

The Reality of Managing the Lifecycle of APIs

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Much of the talk coming from API management vendors these days has to do with solutions that make sure that APIs work right, perform according to expectations, and deliver some form of benefit. Sound a bit vague? Well, for many of these companies, they're really only peddling a version of, "everyone is using APIs, so you should, too."

There's nothing wrong with that if you already have an API strategy and understand how to use that as part of your overall business operations. In truth, some smart, progressive organizations have done that really well. They've already built an ecosystem of partners, customers, and users, and are good at getting all these parties to integrate data into services that can be effectively used to deliver applications.

But that's an incredibly tall order. How many companies have already created a tightly organized team of developers who recognize how to securely extend their own services over REST, pull data from other sources through OAuth, put that into a comprehensive application offering, and be able to deliver that on-premise, in the cloud, and on a mobile device? The answer: very few.

When it comes to APIs and applications, the concept of "management" is often misconstrued. Some talk about management as if it were a dashboard. When we think of it, it's the entire lifecycle of your API existence. There's an entire spectrum of issues around development, management, and security that need to be addressed just like a product. Your API is, after all, the key element of your online business (whether you're dealing in data, financial transactions, or communication), and it needs to be treated like something that is created, re-tooled, and deployed.

In an effort to provide the most comprehensive solution for doing this, and for having the ability to control your API presence, we launched Lifecycle Management for APIs, a solution that will help extend the functionality of services, and manage the complete process of strategy, development, deployment, versioning and retirement of APIs (similar to Application Lifecycle Management). As opposed to vendors who offer something that sits in the middle and lets you track transactions, what we're offering is API management in its entirety.

We came about Lifecycle Management (LCM) because we recognized that while APIs are fairly easy to conceive and develop, they don't operate in a vacuum. Their entire nature is to work with other applications, data sources, and APIs to create something larger and more usable. So we created it as an integrated tool to work with Akana API Gateway and Community Manager to be able to track all the elements of an enterprise's API and services architecture, and allowing them the ability to change as business needs change, while still maintaining the nature of their underlying interdependencies.

Essentially, LCM governs all elements of development and use of APIs, services and other assets that are part of an enterprise's IT environment. That gives the development AND business teams a clear view into how the API will serve the essential technical and business needs that they set out to address. By assessing all assets, the product can offer a comprehensive context for using those assets and for bringing in new ones that need to be included in the lifecycle.

Management occurs throughout the entire lifecycle of the API, from planning and design, to development, operations and maintenance of it. In addition, we're offering this as a fully integrated component of our suite of products for true API management. It includes our Developer Portal, API Gateway (for security and transformation), and Community Manager (to enable in-house and external collaboration and co-development of APIs). When we looked at our product roadmap and realized what we were capable of doing, we realized that we are the now providing the very first comprehensive API management solution.

What's really important about LCM is, well, the lifecycle aspect. It's the first product to shepherd an API from concept to delivery, and it includes some critical elements to organizations who want to deliver relevant applications to a needy marketplace.

(Needy? Well, consider this: Anyone can pull together data, package it and deliver it in an app. But to provide something that the market wants, it's gotta be useful, it has to be from reliable, secure sources, and all that data has to be delivered where the user is - in the cloud, through enterprise deployment, or in a mobile environment).

With LCM, you're getting a tool that makes identification, management and oversight of APIs and other software assets easier. Consider these elements of the product:

  • Ensures that industry standards and best practices are followed as the API moves through its lifecycle.
  • Defines and tracks multiple API versions and the dependencies on those versions through a governed depreciation and retirement process.
  • Identifies and uses proper legacy assets.
  • Leverages open source, IBM and Microsoft based app development tools with API integration.
  • Full and complete SDLC support for REST APIs.
  • Graphical template modeler for easy drag-and-drop governance of process, and asset content modeling.
  • Supports containment of subsidiary information, which ensures proper information for modeling of complex types. This helps with composite API definition and sandbox development.
  • Graphical impact analysis support for IDEs.

It's with a measure of pride that we can talk about delivering Lifecycle Management. APIs are driving the energy around software, the cloud, and mobile, but just like any important development, there's both hype and reality. Some will continue to offer tools that do one-off elements of API development and deployment. But this week, we'll be at important industry events in London, New York city, Las Vegas, and Maryland to let the world know that we're providing a realistic platform for complete and effective management of an entire API strategy - in the API Economy, that's a powerful tool.

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