What is API management?
API management refers to the process of creating, publishing, and managing API connections within an enterprise and multicloud setting. More than just a place for these API connections to live, API management offers a scalable, unified platform that allows enterprises to share and socialize their API configurations while controlling access, collecting and analyzing usage statistics, and enforcing associated security policies.
Benefits of API management
For many businesses, using APIs in their day-to-day operations is not a new concept. However, for organizations that need to manage API integrations across a growing number of their systems and applications, the time spent rebuilding these integrations from scratch can be cumbersome and draining on internal resources. API management gives enterprises greater flexibility when reusing the functionality of API integrations and helps save time and money without trading off security.
Being able to deploy and reuse integration assets quickly and efficiently is a notable benefit of using an API management solution. By managing all of your APIs on one unified and centrally visible platform, enterprises can easily share the API documentation and coding constructs between teams, significantly reducing development costs and time to market. API management platforms also help to keep existing services much safer by tracking API usage and allowing for the the integration of state-of-the-art security protocols, including OAuth, JWT, and OpenID.
API management platform
An API management platform is a tool used to access, distribute, control, and analyze APIs used by developers in an enterprise setting. API management platforms benefit organizations by centralizing control over their API integrations while ensuring they continuously meet high performance and security standards.
Components of API management
API management solutions feature a suite of end-to-end services that streamline the deployment of API integrations and simplify the process of documenting and sharing their configurations among development teams. API management solutions are made up of the following components:
- API gateway: An API gateway is the most important aspect of an API management solution and acts as the gateway to connected systems and services. API gateways handle all routing requests, composition, and protocol translations between clients and the third-party services they're connected to. API gateways play a crucial component in ensuring the security of API connections by deploying key security authentication and enforcement protocols, including Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption and OAuth (Open Authorization) technology standards. The API gateway also allows developers to easily consume microservices as managed APIs.
- API developer portal: An API developer portal serves a variety of purposes, but its primary benefit is to provide a self-service hub for developers to access and share API documentation. Developer portals are an integral part of streamlining communication between teams and make it possible for developers to easily browse, build, and test their APIs.
- Reporting and analytics: Another critical aspect of API management solutions is that they allow organizations to track usage metrics in a variety of ways. API platforms use a synthetic approach to monitoring an API's response time, availability, and overall performance. API platforms can also integrate analytics programs and use protocols designed to extract data for automated and reporting and analysis over time. These analytics tools play a key role in diagnosing and troubleshooting integration issues that may arise and help enterprises make better-informed decisions about their applications and services.
- API lifecycle management: API integrations make up a critical piece of digital transformation strategies and are an essential part of helping organizations scale their operations. API management platforms benefit enterprises by allowing them to manage the entire lifecycle of their APIs, from their initial creation through all of their development stages and inevitable retirement. API management provides a sustainable solution for building, testing, onboarding, and managing APIs while ensuring adequate version control every step of the way.
API management tools
The several API management tools available on the market help organizations get the most out of their API integrations, with each providing unique benefits when deploying, testing, and managing APIs:
JMeter (link resides outside IBM) is part of the Apache Software Foundation and is an open source application initially designed for testing web applications. JMeter is designed to load test RESTful APIs and measure performance over time. It's made up of three main components: MongoDB, Express, and Node.js.
SoapUI (link resides outside IBM) is another cross-platform API testing tool designed to automate regression, compliance, and load testing of web APIs. SoapUI features an easy-to-use testing interface that allows developers to simply drag and drop their scripts for easy configurations when working in multiple situations, including QA, development, and production environments. Using SoapUI, developers can also test their APIs for the latest security vulnerabilities, including SQL injections, cross-site scripting, and XML bombs.
API Connect Test & Monitor
API Connect Test & Monitor is a zero-code API testing tool designed by IBM. API Connect Test & Monitor enables developers to test any of their API endpoints while remaining secured with any number of authentication protocols, including OAuth. API Connect Test & Monitor offers several advantages over other API testing and monitoring tools by automating many of the manual tasks that other programs do not. Some of these features include collaborative testing models, intelligent validation of API accuracy, automated test scheduling, codeless interfaces, and API health alerts.
API management use cases
API management platforms benefit organizations in a number of ways. Here are a few everyday use cases when implementing an API management solution:
Supporting digital transformation strategies
API management has become an essential part of digital transformation strategies, giving organizations the ability to create seamless connections between their digital assets. As businesses continue to scale their day-to-day operations, it becomes necessary that they adopt new tools and services that help them evolve their digital ecosystem. However, without the right automation, these tools and services can quickly become cumbersome and difficult to manage over time. Enterprises can accelerate their operations by incorporating API management tools, quickly testing, deploying, managing, and monitoring their API connections from one centralized platform.
GDPR and compliance considerations
API gateways are a perfect way to address many of the GDPR requirements for data privacy and compliance when accessing and moving large volumes of data. Gateways are designed to protect user data and the access points as information is transmitted through an API. User information is also secured through security tokens and access keys that allow administrators to maintain granular access control over all of their API integration, meeting strict compliance standards.
Ensuring data security
API management solutions have become the gold standard for securing API integrations in an enterprise setting. Using a managed solution, enterprises can encrypt all of their data and require signatures to ensure the right users are accessing their data. By monitoring API activity in real time, organizations are also able to identify potential vulnerabilities in operating systems, networks, drivers, and API components, tracking data leaks and providing the insight necessary to harden their API security.
API management and IBM
API management will continue to be just one part of transforming your organization as the demand for better customer experiences and more applications impacts business and IT operations.
When it comes to meeting such demands, a move toward greater automation will help. Ideally, it would start with small, measurably successful projects, which you can then scale and optimize for other processes and in other parts of your organization.
Working with IBM, you’ll have access to AI-powered automation capabilities, including prebuilt workflows, to help accelerate innovation by making every process more intelligent.
If you just want a simple API management solution, there are many options. But if you want a platform that offers the automation and scale to support a digital transformation strategy—including application modernization—you need a partner you can trust.
Take the next step:
- Discover the IBM Cloud Pak® for Integration, which is built on the core capability of IBM API Connect®, a complete API management solution that enables enterprises to secure and manage critical API integrations across multiple cloud environments.
- Take our integration maturity assessment to evaluate your integration maturity level across critical dimensions and discover the actions you can take to get to the next level.
- Download our agile integration guide, which explores the merits of a container-based, decentralized, microservices-aligned approach for integrating solutions.
Get started with an IBM Cloud® account today.