APIs are a necessary part of doing business online. They allow your website or app to communicate with other websites and apps, which means that you can build new features and products at the speed of light. And if you do that enough, you’ll need to know more about the top API management tools available.
You might be thinking, “That’s great! But what does API management mean for my company?”
It means growth. It means innovation. It means access to a world of tools that will help you improve your product and connect with more users.
APIs drive business. When you use a company’s API, you have access to their data and services, letting you create an entirely new product or service for your customers.
When you build products with APIs, your organization can do more than ever before by:
- Creating entirely new products for your customers
- Integrating existing products and services in a way that makes sense for your business
- Ensuring that you’re getting the maximum value from each API investment
What if you could quickly and easily integrate APIs into your existing products? What if there was a way to ensure that every API investment was actually driving value? You can, through the use of an API management tool. Keep reading to learn more.
The API Lifecycle
The API Lifecycle is a blueprint for companies to create and manage APIs that follow a set of best practices (including documentation, testability, and scalability) that complement the company’s business goals.
API Management is a process that allows you to create, publish, maintain, and monitor an API.
But while the definition may seem simple enough, the reality of implementing it can quickly become complex.
What happens when you decide to build an API? Quite a bit, in fact!
First, you have to choose the right internal team, figure out how to manage that team’s time, and determine the best way to test your API. You also have to figure out what content management system is best for storing the data that your API will connect with.
Plus, your team has to consider tons of external factors: What are you going to do when hackers find a vulnerability in your API? How will you keep track of how many people are using it? How will you keep your users up-to-date on changes or updates?
It’s a lot, hence the need for an API management tool.
The 6 Key Capabilities of API Management
Every API is an opportunity to offer your customers new experiences and open doors to new revenue streams. API management is the process of providing an API program with a series of tools that include analytics, security, development, and maintenance.
An effective API solution requires more than just features like security and availability, though. It also needs the capabilities to help you keep your APIs running at peak performance; deliver the best experience for your users; and grow your business through new products, partners, and audiences.
Though exact features may vary from one product to the next, Gartner identifies six core capabilities typically included in API management solutions:
Governance: API governance is the process of controlling and managing your APIs. Essentially, it’s a way to make sure that all of your APIs are secure and well-designed, so they function as you want them to. It also allows you to make changes when necessary, without breaking your entire system.
But how do you implement these controls? How do you maintain them? And how can you improve them as they’re being used? There’s an entire process behind API governance, from the moment that new APIs are developed to the moment that they’re put into action.
Security: Your application programming interfaces (APIs) form the backbone of your business, making it possible for you to engage with your customers and meet their needs. They’re also a huge security risk:
The average enterprise uses more than 1,000 APIs, but less than 42% of organizations have an API security strategy.
Hackers know this—and they’re exploiting it. If you don’t have an API security strategy in place, you’re putting your business at risk.
Mediation: API mediation is the process of converting your company’s API into a standardized, developer-friendly format. This means that anyone who wants to use your API will be able to do so without wasting time trying to figure out how it works.
Without API mediation, your company’s API can end up in a bizarre array of formats and languages, because each person who uses it will want to make it work for their own platform. This makes it frustrating and difficult for everyone who’s not already familiar with how your API works.
With API mediation, you can make sure that everyone who wants to use your API has the same experience—you’ll have saved them the trouble of having to figure out your system, which means they’ll be able to use the data they get from you much more quickly!
Analytics: API Analytics is a simple, powerful tool that helps you understand who your users are and what they’re doing.
Portal/Developer Experience: API Portal/Developer Experience is a way for you to manage your API strategies and monetize your APIs and how they’re used.
Life Cycle Management: API Lifecycle Management is the process of designing, publishing, documenting, discovering, testing, consuming and monitoring APIs. It also includes maintenance of existing APIs as well as the retirement of an API when it has outlived its purpose or it is no longer being used.
With an increasing number of companies using APIs to facilitate their business operations, the need for a formalized, cohesive management process has become a critical business requirement. An effective lifecycle management strategy can help streamline the entire process and make it easier to manage the various aspects related to APIs such as versioning, design and development, testing, deployment and more.
The Benefits of an API Management Tool
With an API management tool, you can monitor what is happening with your APIs. You can see who’s using them and how they’re being used. If anyone is misusing your APIs, you’ll have the ability to shut them down. You can also nudge people to make sure they’re using your APIs in the way that works best for everyone—all while making sure they have the best experience possible when they use them, based on their needs and preferences.
API management tools let you create rules that help control how your APIs work, which means you can make them more secure or improve performance. They also give you insight into how people are using your public APIs, which provides valuable information about how to keep improving those APIs as time goes on. An API management tool helps you create better and better public APIs over time.
With an API management tool, you can:
- Connect with one simple click
- Get real-time analytics
- Ensure your APIs are running properly
- Create custom APIs
- Do all of it from a single dashboard
In our first post about API integrations, we looked at five of the top API management tools. Now, let’s take a look at a few more of them favored by developers worldwide:
Akana: This tool provides a full API lifecycle solution, including API design, API creation, API deployment, API security testing, and API traffic management. Plus an entire suite of tools to help you publish APIs, build communities, and manage your governance program. Advanced features include an API catalog and developer portal, traffic management, threat protection, rate limiting and quotas, and a Web application firewall (WAF).
CA API Management: This tool offers an end-to-end solution for designing, publishing, managing, securing, and monetizing APIs. The platform is easy to use, deploys quickly, and scales with your business needs. It includes a developer portal that lets developers learn about your APIs, test them out and subscribe to the ones they want to use.
CA API Management is available two ways: As a cloud-based service or as on-premises software.
Dell Boomi: This platform makes it easy for you to integrate all of your applications, on-premises or in the cloud. You don’t need to know how to code—it’s as easy as dragging and dropping. And if you do have developers on hand, they’ll love it too—Boomi’s API-first connector library has over 200 pre-built connectors.
WSO2 App Cloud: This solution is the industry’s first fully multi-tenant, multi-language, open-source Platform as a Service (PaaS) that makes it easy to build, deploy and manage enterprise applications, APIs, and microservices in the cloud. WSO2 App Cloud’s open-source technology and powerful capabilities help organizations accelerate business agility by providing seamless integration with their on-premises systems, whether running on WSO2 Private PaaS or any other platform.
The main challenge for enterprises however is to make the apps developed in the cloud compatible with their on-premises applications. Open standards like SOAP and REST enable developers to create applications that can be deployed in both environments without having to rewrite the code.
The WSO2 App Cloud is a PaaS based on Apache Stratos™ 4.0 that supports SOAP/REST services and microservices written in Java, PHP, Node.js, and Python.
Azure API Management: No list of the top API management tools would be complete without this one for good reason: it’s a powerful platform with a lot of capabilities.
With Azure API Management, you can manage APIs across clouds and on-premises. Not only, that, but you can deploy API gateways side-by-side with the APIs hosted in Azure, other clouds, and on-premises. This approach helps to optimize API traffic flow. This unified management experience also helps organizations to meet critical security and compliance requirements.
The Last Word
Any of the top API management tools can help you manage your APIs in a single, centralized platform, but choosing the right one for you is key. Reach out to Ascendle and ask how we can help with this or other technology questions you might have.