What is API management?
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What is API management?

API management is the scalable process of creating, publishing and managing application programming interface (API) connections—sharing them, controlling access, tracking their usage and enforcing security policies—within an enterprise and multicloud setting.

More than just a repository for these API connections, API management is a scalable, unified platform that allows enterprises to share and socialize their API configurations, control access, collect and analyze usage statistics and enforce security policies all at the same time.

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Benefits of API management

For many businesses, API use in their daily operations is not a new concept. However, for organizations that need to manage API integrations across more systems and applications, rebuilding these integrations from scratch can be time-consuming, cumbersome and draining on internal resources. API management gives enterprises greater flexibility in reusing API integrations and helps save time and money without trading off security.

One notable benefit of using an API management solution is the ability to deploy and reuse integration assets quickly and efficiently. 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. This approach significantly reduces development costs and time to market. API management platforms also help to keep existing services safer by tracking API usage and allowing for the integration of state-of-the-art security protocols, including OAuth, JWT, and OpenID.

API management use cases API management platforms benefit organizations in various ways. Here are a few everyday use cases that use an API management solution. Supporting digital transformation strategies

API management became an essential part of digital transformation strategies, which enables organizations to create seamless connections between their digital assets. As businesses continue to scale their daily operations, adopting new tools and services to bolster their digital ecosystem is all the more necessary. 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.

Meeting GDPR and compliance requirements

API gateways effectively address many of the GDPR requirements for data privacy and compliance with both data access and large data movement. Gateways are designed to protect user data and the access points as information is transmitted through an API. User information is also protected through security tokens and access keys that allow administrators to maintain granular access control over all of their API integration, meeting strict compliance standards.

Protecting data security

API management solutions became 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 make sure that the right users are accessing their data. By monitoring API activity in real-time, organizations can identify potential vulnerabilities—in operating systems, networks, drivers and API components—track data leaks and provide the insight to boost API security.

API management platform

An API management platform is a tool that is 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 maintaining high performance and security standards. 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 conversions between clients and their third-party services. API gateways also shore up 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.
API 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 in deploying, testing and managing APIs: JMeter

JMeter (link resides outside ibm.com) is part of the Apache Software Foundation and is an open source application that is initially designed for testing web applications. JMeter is designed to load test RESTful APIs and measure performance over time. It is made up of three main components: MongoDB, Express and Node.js.


SoapUI (link resides outside ibm.com) is another cross-platform API testing tool that is 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 in multiple situations, including QA, development and production environments. Using SoapUI, developers can also test their APIs for more current 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 that IBM® designed. API Connect Test & Monitor enables developers to test any of their API endpoints while remaining secured with any number of authentication protocols, including OAuth. The tool 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.

Related solutions IBM API Connect®

Manage your API ecosystem across multiple clouds, boost socialization and optimize monetization efforts.

iPaaS Solutions

Connect applications, data, business processes and services, whether they are hosted on-premises, in a private cloud, or within a public cloud environment.

Integration solutions

Connect, automate and unlock business potential with integration solutions.

Resources What is a REST API?

REST APIs provide a flexible, lightweight way to integrate applications and have emerged as the most common method for connecting components in microservices architectures.

What is an API?

Application programming interfaces, or APIs, simplify software development and innovation by enabling applications to exchange data and functionality easily and securely.

2023 Gartner Critical Capabilities

IBM named a Leader in the 2023 Gartner Critical Capabilities for Full Lifecycle API Management.

Take the next step

Use IBM API Connect to secure and manage enterprise APIs throughout their lifecycles. It helps you and your customers consistently create, manage, secure, socialize and monetize enterprise APIs, and is also available as a highly scalable API management platform on IBM Marketplace and AWS.

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