what is an api
November 15, 2019

What is an API?

API management
Digital Transformation

An Application Programming Interface, or API, is a gateway between disparate applications, allowing them to communicate and transfer information to one another. It also defines how these applications should interact.

How Do APIs Work?

Think of an API like a connector. Disparate programs that otherwise wouldn’t be able to exchange information are able to do so via an API.

A common analogy for APIs is ordering food at a restaurant. You, as a customer, don’t directly place your order with the chef, who is preparing the food. Instead, a waiter takes your order and communicates it back to the chef, then delivers the food back to you once prepared. That waiter is like an API.

It’s important to note that the flow of information may be constant; APIs don’t just pass a single message back and forth.

What Do APIs Do?

APIs provide a fast and easy way to implement functionality or data from another application into your own. They streamline workflows for developers wanting to integrate and leverage outside technologies within their internal projects.

Additionally, an API controls access to resources that an application doesn’t have permission to use, improving security. Rather than exposing all data, only necessary information is shared outside of the application.

What Are APIs Used For?

APIs are used for anything that takes data in, in order to put data out. For instance, any time you make a query on your phone, the data is sent to a server, which reads it and sends a response back in a readable format.

Other processes you may be familiar with that use APIs include:

  • Booking flights or hotels online
  • Withdrawing cash from an ATM
  • Ordering food online through a delivery service
  • Downloading software

For developers, perhaps you want to integrate a map, weather data, or other software into your application. You’ll need to establish an API, either by using a public version that is open and offers the information you need, or by developing one yourself. Taking the latter route is more complex, but can be customized for your app’s specific needs. Designing and managing your own API is far simpler when partnering with a support team.

Akana’s API Solutions

Integrating complementary technologies into your platform drives growth for your business and provides additional value to your customers, igniting a digital transformation. To do so, you’ll need the power of APIs.

The Akana enterprise API platform covers all aspects of API management, from design and development to analytics and security.

Find out why Forrester ranked Akana as a leader in API management and the top vendor for API security in their full report below.

Get the Report