Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the foundational element for highly connected enterprises. To realise the value of APIs and avoid the pitfalls of exposing enterprise systems, it’s vital to deploy technology that enables and simplifies key processes related to API creation, integration, orchestration, security, optimisation, lifecycle management and developer engagement.
APIs have existed for decades. In the early days of IT they were primarily used to give programmers convenient access to libraries of prebuilt functions. As systems became more distributed, APIs found their place in more general application and data integration. Fast forward to today’s highly connected world of web services, mobile apps, the Internet of Things, and the smart use of APIs has become a critical enabler of digital transformation.
Drivers for API-related investments range from operational efficiency at one end to digital disruption at the other. Internal use of APIs can range from optimising existing back end processes to making use of new Internet of Things opportunities. APIs can also enable organisations to provide new, entirely digital services for clients and partners.
Business success increasingly requires connecting products to customer needs, customers to experiences, apps to devices, and organisations to their eco-systems of partners. It requires connecting systems to other systems, software to other software, and data to just about everything. At the same time, these connections must be made quickly, accurately, securely, with quality, and at scale.
APIs are the central nervous system of the app economy. By allowing pieces of software to communicate with each other, they provide ready-made, universal access to whatever functionality an organisation needs to deliver. In fact the increase in use of APIs has generated growth in what has been called by some industry analysts the ‘API Economy’.
The application economy has enabled businesses to transform. To capture new growth opportunities, enterprises are opening up and sharing select data and applications with developers, partners, mobile devices, the cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT). One of the by-products of this transformation is the discovery that legacy data has value in the application economy—so much so that new revenue opportunities emerge as this data is used in new ways.
But how do you realise your untapped data potential? The answer? Through API monetisation—the ability to charge for APIs that access your business data.
With the right API management platform, you can securely expose your APIs and charge for access while providing developers with the information they need to create applications against them.
Managing the composition, performance and security of enterprise APIs is essential to ensuring the organisation gets a good return on its investment. Likewise, it is vital to actively engage and manage developers to ensure they build apps that create business value.
For most enterprises, an API Management infrastructure will prove essential to designing, deploying and maintaining APIs that developers will use to create powerful new apps.
An enterprise level API Management Solution will have two key components: