Many companies use APIs for SaaS integration and internal use cases and plan to provide APIs to external parties as well. Still, though there is a need, many underestimate the importance of a centralized API catalog for consumed and provided APIs.
The growing usage of APIs for integration scenarios
Our customers appreciate that we maintain a close relationship with them so that we can continue to understand their needs and requirements. As part of this, we have conducted several workshops and online forums around APIs, addressing API managers and API developers and everybody who is involved with the issue over the last couple of months – with topics ranging from API management to API solutions. We started with the basics, answering questions like ‘What exactly is an API?’ and exploring the different types of APIs. The idea has been to investigate and exchange ideas on people’s overall experiences following the implementation of APIs.
Many of our customers, even those in larger enterprises, have been following and joining these conversations discussing how they used APIs for integration scenarios. A large number of them are also using APIs for integrated SaaS, web applications or mobile front-ends. They also used APIs for the integration of internal systems and applications. Finally, some integrated public clouds to support the hybrid approach of their IT infrastructure.
The dangers of losing control over the APIs you use
With APIs for integration, the integration of interface after interface is a step-by-step process spanning months and even years, keeping both, API managers and API developers busy. Meanwhile, over the course of this process you lose transparency, and therefore control of the APIs you are using and the respective integration scenarios. This situation gets uncomfortable because the re-usability of existing APIs and integration scenarios gets a lot more complicated. The lack of a centralized inventory including the documentation of APIs results in a loss of synergies.
- It reduces the speed of execution for further integration requirements.
- It complicates the provision of implemented APIs to external developers.
- It is a security threat to not be aware of which APIs are in use.
Advantages of an API catalog, API gateway and API governance
During our discussions, many of our customers realized that an API catalog is the central feature of an API management solution. We also discussed the benefits of an API catalog. Here are their three major findings:
An API catalog:
- Centralizes the knowledge about your API use cases.
- Establishes a proper documentation of the lifecycle status of each API.
- Uses standards as OpenAPI and the export format as Swagger but also supports formats like RAML.
Setting up an API catalog, however, is only the beginning of structuring your API infrastructure. To gain control over the usage of an API it is a good idea to establish an API gateway to protect and govern the API traffic. Finally, it is helpful to take advantage of such an infrastructure in an API governance process.
The result is a complete set-up to handle the APIs in an efficient and secure way. For some companies, the sequence of the processes might be slightly different. The good thing is, however, sooner or later you will achieve the same result.
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