You may have noticed that there’s been a lot of buzz lately in the API Management space with the high profile acquisitions of Mashery and Layer 7, and the announcement of the IBM API Management product. You’re probably wondering, “What is API Management and why does my company need it?” This blog post outlines the current challenges businesses are confronting and how application programming interfaces (APIs) and API Management can help.
Data boom creates new opportunities
According to the Symantec State of Information Survey (see this article), the average enterprise stores 100,000 terabytes of information, which is expected to grow by 67 percent over the next year. Smarter companies will exploit this data to reinvent their interaction with customers, suppliers and partners. They will create new routes to market, reduce their cost of sale and drive revenue for their businesses.
Mobile usage has changed consumer expectations
There has been dramatic growth in the use of mobile devices in the last few years; in fact, one in three Americans now owns a tablet. As a result of this rise, consumers of data now expect to access information at any time and across multiple devices. My previous blog post explained why mobile integration is essential inside the enterprise, and it is just as important externally. It is no longer sufficient to only have a website when your competitors are taking advantage of more channels to reach their customers.
Corporate IT departments are struggling to meet demand
IT departments are facing demands from their businesses to support applications on a wide range of mobile operating systems and hardware. They may also be required to integrate with devices such as medical equipment and utility meters that are generating and consuming data in new ways. It is not sustainable to expect IT departments to continually deliver more and still achieve the necessary quality and speed to market.
APIs can leverage external development communities
APIs are programmatic interfaces that expose corporate data assets such as products, prices and availability. Internal or external developers can use the APIs to create websites or apps. For example, if an insurance company exposes an API to get quotes, a developer could write a quote comparison app using that API in combination with APIs from other insurers. The same concept would apply to price comparison for products in the retail and banking industries. Companies can even charge for use of their APIs to generate extra profits.
Exposing APIs presents new risks and challenges
If a company decides to expose their data through APIs, they should consider the following questions:
- What skills and resources do I need to create the APIs?
- How can I release and update APIs rapidly?
- How do I aggregate data for APIs from multiple back-end systems?
- How do I give APIs access to my data in a secure way?
- How do I make sure the APIs scale?
- How can I analyze the API usage?
- How do I promote the APIs to external developers?
- How do I publish API documentation for the developers?
The answer is an API Management solution
Businesses should use an API Management solution for API creation and maintenance, data integration, security and performance. The solution will also provide analytics to give your business statistics on how many calls your APIs receive and from which app. This is particularly important if you want to charge the developer for usage of your API. The solution should allow you to publicize your API to energize the development community to create innovative apps fueled by your data too.
Has your business considered exposing data through APIs? Are you considering using an API Management solution? If you’d like to discuss this topic further, please leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter.Tweet