Exploring the value of API management for an enterprise.
In today’s digital world, application programming interfaces (APIs) are everywhere — and API management is, too.
What is API management and why does it matter?
In a nutshell, API management is the way a company creates, publishes and manages its API connections. It’s about making sure it’s easy to use your business assets and that you’re keeping your business information secure in the process.
This video provides a great overview:
There’s a good chance that your business has already implemented an API management strategy. If not, your business leaders may be asking questions like, “Why is API management important for our company?” or “What value will we get from this extra work?”
Though the specific answers will vary from company to company, these are three big reasons that any enterprise would want to add API management.
1. API management turns your data into an advantage
APIs expose data and, in turn, make it easier to access and share data. Being able to tap into that data has two huge benefits.
First, and most obviously, it helps your development teams work more efficiently. Developers can easily access the data they need from other applications, and they can track how their own applications are performing. This helps them to diagnose issues when they occur, and it can also help them proactively address inefficiencies that could turn into future problems.
Second, this data will form the backbone of your API monetization strategy. You’ll know who is using your API, how they’re using it and how often they’re using it. This information will be crucial as you start to monetize that API. Those metrics will be the backbone of your pricing model, and you’ll avoid customers contacting you saying that none of the plans work for the way they use the API.
2. API management facilitates communication between cloud and on-premises applications
APIs simplify the communication between systems. Generally, we talk about how they connect applications and data, but APIs can also facilitate the communication between legacy on-premises applications and newer cloud-based applications.
Realistically, your enterprise will continue to use some on-premises applications for the foreseeable future. At the same time, you’ll be moving some of your applications to the cloud and building other cloud native apps. On top of that, you’ll probably be working within a hybrid cloud structure — using both public clouds and private clouds within your business.
There are a lot of pieces to coordinate, and API management can help you get all of these systems talking to each other.
3. API management lets you control what you share
As we’ve already noted, APIs are great for sharing information. However, you won’t want to share all of your information with everyone.
In many ways, securing your API is the most important element of API management. You’ll need to set up a system to ensure that only authorized users have access to your APIs. You’ll also want to define levels of access and ensure that you’re enforcing any security policies your company has. You can even set up different access controls for each API your company uses.
You may also want to set limits on how often an API can be called. This will help to prevent overloading your backend systems, and if you choose to monetize the API, you’ll already have usage controls in place.
If you’re not already using API management, I encourage you to start looking at options for API management software, such as IBM API Connect. Your company may also find value in an API management platform like IBM Cloud Pak® for Integration. By choosing a platform, you’ll get all of the advantages of API management integrated with app management, messaging, event streaming, data transfer and secure gateway capabilities.
If you’d like to learn more about API management, I encourage you to explore IBM’s API Management guide or watch the video "What is API Management?” You may also find our blog about providing APIs vs. managing APIs helpful.
If you’d like a more technical explanation, our user community has a post that addresses API Management from the perspective of an API developer.