API Connect components

The API Connect components provide a unified user experience across the API lifecycle. Changes in one stage of the API lifecycle are automatically reflected in the other components of API Connect.

Cloud Manager

The API Connect Cloud Manager component is used to manage the API Connect on-premises cloud. The Cloud Administrator uses this UI to:
  • Define the cluster of Management servers, Gateway servers, and containers that are required in the cloud, and configure the topology. For information about Management servers and Gateway servers, see API Connect server requirements. For information about containers, see Runtime.
  • Manage (modify, move, remove, restart, reboot) the servers in the cloud.
  • Monitor the health of the cloud.
  • Define and manage the provider organizations that develop APIs. (Assigned managers or owners of provider organizations can also complete this task.)
  • Define additional cloud administrators, or set up users with roles that enable access to specific capabilities.
  • Add user registries for authenticating users and securing APIs, and configure the secure transmission of data (for example, through websites).

For more information about the Cloud Manager, see Managing your cloud.

The developer toolkit

The developer toolkit provides the tools for modeling, developing, and testing APIs and LoopBack® applications. The developer toolkit includes a command line interface (CLI). It also incorporates LoopBack, an open source Node.js framework.

API developers use the API management functions in the API Manager or the CLI to create draft API definitions for REST and SOAP APIs, or for OAuth provider endpoints that are used for OAuth 2.0 authentication. The API definitions can be configured to add the API to a Product, add a policy assembly flow (to manipulate requests/responses), and to define security options and other settings. APIs can then be tested locally prior to publishing, to ensure they are defined and implemented correctly.

Using LoopBack, an API developer can create a Node.js application, connect to a data source such as a back-end database or a REST API to be consumed, and then expose the application as a REST API by creating a model definition. A LoopBack model defines the application data, validation rules, data access capabilities, and business logic for an API, and provides a REST API by default. This REST API can then be used by a REST API definition that was created using the API Manager or CLI and exposed to your users. The API and its associated application, which are implemented as a LoopBack project, must both be published to enable the project to be run. LoopBack projects can also be tested locally by creating a local runtime environment. The following diagram illustrates the LoopBack project architecture:
The LoopBack project architecture.

Draft APIs (in their containing Products) that are created by using the API Manager, CLI, or LoopBack are published to Catalogs. Applications created using LoopBack are published to containers, from where they run when called. (For information about containers, see Runtime.)

The developer toolkit is installed locally, for offline API and application development. For more information about the developer toolkit, see Developing your APIs and applications. For more information about LoopBack, see LoopBack: The Node.js API Framework.

API Manager

The API Manager provides a user interface that facilitates promotion and tracking of APIs that are packaged within Products and Plans. API providers can move the Products through their lifecycle, and manage the availability and visibility of APIs and Plans.

Catalogs and Spaces are created in the API Manager to act as staging targets through which APIs, Plans, and Products are published to consumer organizations. API providers can stage their Products to Catalogs or Spaces, and then publish them to make the APIs in those Products visible on a Developer Portal for external discovery.

To control access to the available API management functions, users in the provider organization can be set up in the API Manager UI with assigned roles and permissions. API providers can also use the UI to manage the consumer organizations that sign up to access their APIs and Plans. Developer communities can additionally be created as a way of grouping together a collection of consumer organizations to whom a particular set of Products and Plans can be made available.

The API Manager UI also includes functions to manage the security of the API environment, and provides access to analytics information about API invocation metrics within customizable dashboard views.

For more information about the API Manager, see Managing your APIs.

API Gateways

Gateways enforce runtime policies to secure and control API traffic, provide the endpoints that expose APIs to the calling applications, and provide assembly functions that enable APIs to integrate with various endpoints. They also log and report all API interactions to the API Connect analytics engine, for real-time and historical analytics and reporting. The following Gateway is available for use in API Connect:
  • The DataPower® Gateway is an enterprise API Gateway that is built for departments and cross-enterprise usage. This Gateway provides a comprehensive set of API policies for security, traffic management, mediation, acceleration, and non-HTTP protocol support. The DataPower Gateway is deployed on a virtual or physical DataPower appliance and supports multiple Catalogs per instance or cluster. The DataPower Gateway can handle enterprise level complex integration, and supports containers for flexible runtime management.

Your API Connect offering (or edition) can include a virtual DataPower Gateway, and support for a physical DataPower Gateway is also available, subject to certain conditions.


You can run applications and API implementations in API Connect in a containerized runtime.
Containerized runtime
A containerized runtime environment provides a lightweight deployment location for APIs and applications. A container wraps an application in a complete file system that includes everything it needs to run, such as code, runtime, system tools, and system libraries. You can use Docker Swarm or Kubernetes containers to run your APIs and applications being managed by API Connect.

Developer Portal

The Developer Portal provides a customizable self-service web-based portal to application developers to explore, discover, and subscribe to APIs.

When API providers publish APIs in the API Manager, those APIs are exposed in the Developer Portal for discovery and usage by application developers in consumer organizations. Application developers can access the Developer Portal UI to register their applications, discover APIs, use the required APIs in their applications (with access approval where necessary), and subsequently deploy those applications.

The Developer Portal provides additional features, such as forums, blogs, comments, and ratings, for socialization and collaboration. API consumers can also view analytics information about the APIs that are used by an application, or used within a consumer organization. For more information, see Developer Portal: socialize your APIs.

API Analytics

API Connect provides the capability to filter, sort, and aggregate your API event data. This data is then presented within correlated charts, tables, and maps, to help you manage service levels, set quotas, establish controls, set up security policies, manage communities, and analyze trends. API analytics is built on the Kibana V5.5.1 open source analytics and visualization platform, which is designed to work with the Elasticsearch real-time distributed search and analytics engine.

API Connect server requirements

From an on-premises cloud, you can create, promote, use, and track APIs. An on-premises cloud is composed of various appliances, where each appliance is a server of a specific type. The collection of servers defines your cloud and determines how to distribute the work of managing, analyzing, routing, and storing data.

Your on-premises cloud can be a combination of new and existing physical appliances and virtual appliances, or can be entirely composed of virtual appliances. The type and quantity of servers in an API Connect environment are determined by the individual needs of each enterprise, but the minimum requirement is one Management server, one Analytics server, one Gateway server, and one server to host the Developer Portal.

The API Connect on-premises cloud includes the following server types:
  • Management server. Stores all of the cloud configuration, and controls communication between the other servers within API Connect. Manages the operations of the various servers in the API Connect cloud and provides the tools to interface with the various servers. The Cloud Manager and API Manager user interfaces run on the Management server.
  • Analytics server. Provides analytic functions that collect and store information about APIs and API users.
  • Gateway server. Processes and manages security protocols and stores relevant user and appliance authentication data. The Gateway server also provides assembly functions that enable APIs to integrate with various endpoints, such as databases or HTTP-based endpoints.
  • Developer Portal server. Provides a customizable social developer portal with a full-featured content management system, and includes clustering capability. Enables API providers to build portals for their application developers, and provides the interface for application developers to discover APIs and subscribe to usage Plans contained in the published Products for use in their applications.
Note: All Management appliances in an API Connect cloud must run at the same firmware level as each other. Gateway appliances can run on different firmware levels to each other, but it is recommended that all of the Gateway appliances run on the same level as each other.

Typical tasks per interface component

API Connect offers both command line and graphical user interfaces. Provider and consumer organizations use different interfaces for completing typical tasks. Refer to the following table to locate the interface that corresponds to a specific task.

Table 1. API Connect Tasks per interface component
Organization Type Interface Component Tasks
API Provider Command Line Interface (CLI) Create APIs, Plans, and Products
API Manager UI Create APIs, Plans, and Products
API Manager UI Create Catalogs and Spaces; Create Consumer Organizations
Cloud Manager UI Create Provider Organizations
API Consumer (application developer) Developer Portal Access APIs to create and run applications; Create Consumer Organizations
  • If self-service onboarding is enabled for a Catalog, a consumer organization is automatically created when an application developer signs up or is invited by the API provider to a Developer Portal, and the application developer then becomes the owner of that consumer organization.