The popularity of APIs is growing day by day, and organizations in various fields are increasingly integrating them into their IT systems. According to estimations, there are more than 24,000 different APIs in the world today.
Growing number of APIs used across enterprise and consumer solutions raises the importance of API management. Organizations need to manage their APIs efficiently in order to make sure they are utilized in accordance with internal policies, easily accessible when changes are required, and protected with the appropriate levels of security.
What is API management?
API management refers to the multiple processes of designing, publishing, documenting and analyzing all APIs that are connected to data and applications across organization’s IT networks and cloud solutions. The goal of these processes is to make sure all APIs, both internal and public, meet all the requirements, including accessibility to developers, security and transparency.
The management of APIs includes pretty much all the aspects of API work, from creation and publishing new APIs to controlling the access to them, collecting usage data, analysis, monetization, setting up API usage policies, creating reports, etc.
What are the main components of API management?
Because API management covers so many different areas of API usage, there are various solutions with a handful of features available in this field.
Let’s go through some of the most important components of an API management solution.
- API gateway.
API gateway is a server used as a centralized front-end point of entry for all APIs. The gateway receives all API requests, checks them for the compliance with security and access policies. Upon checking a request, the gateway passes it to the receiving API and sends its response back. So the API gateway serves an intermediary between APIs and whoever sends them requests. This is why gateways typically include functions such as user authorization, authentication, security control, etc. Some are also able to collect data for further analysis.
- Developer portal.
Developer portal serves as an online community that contains all the information that is required or might be useful for developers and other API users. Typically, developer portals contain API documentation, tutorials, descriptions of developer onboarding processes, samples of code, and other kinds of useful information. Sometimes they also include interactive API consoles, sandboxes and development kits to make it easier for the developers to test them.
- Publishing and lifecycle management tools.
API management also includes sets of tools used to design, create, publish and manage APIs all the way throughout their life cycles. They make it easier for developers to define APIs, create documentation for them, set up access and usage rules, conduct quality assurance measures, deploy APIs into production and so on.
- Analytics and reporting tools.
Monitoring different aspects of API usage is another important part of API management. It is focused on real-time API load measurement, such as the number of requests, the amount of data objects returned, completed transactions, average compute time, etc. The information is collected, analyzed and presented in reports, which can be used by the development team to improve the API performance and optimize its integration into the system.
- API monetization tools.
Finally, there are API monetization tools used by the providers of commercial APIs to charge for access to their products. They typically have functions to facilitate usage contracts, set up usage limitations and pricing rules, as well as issuing invoices and collecting payments from clients.
Why do organizations need to adopt API management?
The most common question for business leaders and IT managers to ask in regards to API management is why their organization would need it. Considering that the API usage is growing continuously, it would be reasonable to say that the majority of companies will have to adopt the API management solutions in the near future.
Here are several reasons why your organization might want to implement an API management system.
- Easy implementation and control over security policies.
Rising security concerns is one of the downsides of rapidly growing implementation of APIs across IT systems. Increasing complexity of modern-day software solutions results in a higher number of security vulnerabilities that can be used for hacker attacks and other malicious activity, which can result in significant damage. Established API management allows organizations to secure their API connections and minimize threats at the API layer.
- Quick development and deployment of APIs.
API management is essentially important to organizations that are developing their own APIs or plan to start doing it in the future. Using centralized solutions to design, create, and deploy APIs along with all the necessary documentation would allow you to build APIs faster and with fewer resources.
- Optimization of internal IT systems.
API management is also a way to optimize different aspects of your internal IT system performance. The implementation of centralized API management allows organizations to simplify and automate a number of software workflows. It is also a tool enabling easier development of various tools across the IT system layers by centralizing the configuration of software components and applying pre-maid configuration templates to new instruments.
- Detailed information about API usage.
The need to monitor and analyze various metrics related to the API performance is increasing along with growing adoption of APIs. Neglecting API usage analysis could lead to various business risks, such as lack of information about API-related security vulnerabilities, end-user latency issues and multiple other IT system errors affecting consumers or employees. API management allows to collect and analyze data related to API usage in real time, creating reports where this information is organized and easily accessible.
Does the choice of APIs affect the success of API management?
Even though the selection of specific APIs is not a part of the API management, it certainly would influence the overall success of this process within an organization. This is why you want to use high-quality apps from a reliable API provider. Such as Apilayer, an unparalleled suite of productivity-boosting web APIs and cloud-based microservice applications for developers and companies of any size.
Apilayer’s suite includes a handful of APIs designed to simplify the control of your online audience and user journey, enhance security by verifying user data at the point of entry into the system, provide easy access to third-party information and facilitate quick data conversion. One example of a powerful high-quality API included in Apilayer is Ipstack, a scalable IP address geolocation and reverse IP lookup REST API. It allows organizations to utilize rich IP intelligence data to take control of the web audience, enhance user experience and prevent fraud efficiently.