APIs are experiencing a real boom due to the rapidly advancing digitalisation of companies and the emergence of entire digital ecosystems. However, it is essential to ensure that API integration projects are fully secure and scalable. This requires structured API strategies. Professional API management is key to the secure provision and use of APIs. The use of APIs also plays a decisive role from the eight perspectives in the SEEOcta model, as it has a direct impact on the sections data, laws and regulations, locations and strategy.
The SEEOcta blog series highlights the eight most important perspectives for successful project management. Discover all the areas you need to consider when planning digitalisation and integration projects in your company. Armed with the ideas and knowledge in the articles, you will have a solid foundation for planning your IT project and a guide to help you ensure that no one gets left behind.
Is the answer APIs? Sure! But only with a professional API management strategy
Companies are developing an increasing number of business models, digital strategies and ecosystems in which APIs play a central role. These developments are giving rise to a veritable API economy, which soon becomes the focus of attention when a company is planning a successful digital transformation, because using APIs significantly simplifies integration projects:
- Efficient cloud integration
- Interacts with ʽsmartʼ IoT devices and machines
- Lets you implement mobile applications for various contexts
- Enables the ingestion and analysis of big data
- Enables new business models and product/service offerings to be developed due to the digital networking of new business partners
- Integrates legacy systems
These days, APIs represent a decisive competitive advantage for many companies, or even the very basis of their business. But what exactly is an API? Quite simply, API stands for Application Programming Interface, and is the interface which enables digital access to information or business processes. API integration ensures that data from a wide variety of sources are collected through various connectors, ready to be used for your purposes. If implemented in the right way – and this is the key – they make it significantly easier to organise and technically implement new digital business relationships between companies and markets. But, implementing them correctly and intelligently is key.
And this is where API management comes in. As increasingly more internal and external APIs are being provided and used, it is critical that these are also administrated, regulated, secured and monitored. This makes API management a key component of a targeted API strategy. However, what does professional API management actually do?
API management – keeping the door secure
As APIs open wide the doors to internal information, access to this information needs to be regulated, administrated, monitored and secured. This requires a comprehensive API strategy which considers all API stakeholders, from the API publisher to the API and app developers, all the way to the API consumer. Here, a professional API management solution can truly save you from nightmares. After all, what IT manager wouldn’t sleep a lot easier if he were sure that the entire IT landscape was protected by a centralised traffic and policy management system? There is a gamut of API security measures that are used to protect your confidential business data. Mechanisms used to authenticate and authorise calls to an API ensure than would be consumers have the necessary permissions to use a provider’s API. An essential component is the API gateway, the gatekeeper which manages traffic to the API and ensures consumers have the right permissions. However, do you actually know how many APIs you have in use, and what they’re being used for?
API management – keeping track of your APIs
APIs are deployed in a huge range of scenarios and made accessible to the public to varying extents. There are different types of APIs, including private APIs for internal use, partner APIs, which are released to defined consumers, and public APIs. As APIs are used in such a variety of ways, there is also a variety of integration approaches which may be taken to provide the APIs. APIs can be used to integrate internal systems and applications. They can be used to integrate software as a service (SaaS), online applications, mobile user interfaces and even public clouds. So that you have a record of the APIs in use in your organisation, and whether they have been released to other parties, it is important to run an API catalogue (AmE: API catalog) from the very beginning. This is a central, clearly-documented record of all the APIs currently used in various scenarios within the organisation. It should document the lifecycle stage of each API as well as the other topics which make up API governance such as planning, design, tests, implementation, API runtime, version history and deactivation. This can also be used to measure the success of an API and to determine the acceptance rate among users. From a business point of view, it is naturally also useful to see to what extent the goals that prompted the use of an API have actually been met. Careful API governance is also helpful for this purpose.
Good API management needs to fulfil five key tasks:
- API full lifecycle management
- API security
- Business value reporting
- Document all information relevant to the API developers
- Document the API adoption rate
The following API management infographic summarises the advantages of API management by comparing unmanaged vs. managed APIs.
The digital forerunners of today manage to create business models with a balance of agility, cost, reaction speed and security. They use APIs to connect systems, to offer a better customer experience and to react flexibly to new demands. Therefore, it is paramount that these APIs are set up and administrated efficiently. Modern API management solutions cover the whole lifecycle of an API, from setting up, provision, enhancing and optimising, as well as regulating how the app developers and API consumers access and use it. In these times of digitalisation, companies can only remain competitive if they have flexible IT systems which provide well-managed APIs to enable interaction with their business partners and, of course, customers.
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Written by: Rolf HolickiRolf Holicki, Director BU E-Invoicing, SAP&Web Process, is responsible for the SAP/WEB applications. He has more than 25 years of experience in e-invoicing, SAP, Workflow and business process automation. Rolf Holicki has been with SEEBURGER since 2005.