APIs (Applications Programming Interfaces) are programming interfaces that dictate how applications communicate and share information. It is through the use of APIs that applications are able to interact and work together to streamline different business processes.
Today, businesses have hugely adopted the use of APIs to digitize different business processes. This can largely be attributed to a number of things, among them the Internet of Things, data aggregation, and technological advancements in general. For instance, data aggregation has revolutionized businesses today through the use of APIs.
The continued growth in the adoption of APIs has brought with it a new challenge for the businesses using the APIs. When a business decides to build an API for their own use, or even for third-party use, they need to keep a closer look at the API from the time it is incepted to the time it is retired. This is what makes API management important.
API management can be defined as the process through which APIs are created, implemented, monitored, and managed. It consists of a set of processes, policies, principles, and practices that developers and business owners use to make sure that their APIs achieve their full potential without any issues.
To ensure effective API management, businesses use API management platforms that come with a set of tools to make the entire API management process easy. These tools automate the entire process, leaving a very small margin for error.
Benefits of Using API Management Platforms
- Monitoring and Analyzing APIs: A good API management platform helps one to understand a number of things such as the performance, response time, and availability among others with regards to their APIs. With such metrics, API owners are able to address any issues and enhance their APIs to make sure that they meet the requirements of their users.
- API Visibility: An API management platform allows API owners and developers to gain visibility into their APIs in a centralized place. They (developers and API owners) are able to deploy all their APIs, whether third-party or their own APIs, within a unified dashboard. This way, one can easily understand everything about the APIs and address any arising issues with ease.
- Enhancing the Security of APIs: Security is one of the most important things when it comes to APIs. APIs are responsible for allowing the communication and exchange of data between applications. As such, they can easily expose sensitive information if left exposed to external threats or unauthorized access. An API management platform ensures that there is a secure traffic flow of data and only allows legitimate access.
Challenges of Using API Management Platforms
- API Scaling Challenges: Most of the time, API owners get an API management platform that meets the requirements of their APIs. This way, they are able to keep an eye on the API and its performance. However, as the API matures, chances are that it might keep growing, getting more requests and users. When this happens, the management platform faces problems accommodating the same API and meeting all set requirements.
- Maintaining Consistency: Some APIs come with a huge potential for growth when incepted. As such, developers opt to use different teams to manage such APIs. When the API experiences growth, the teams are faced with management challenges, with each team trying to implement different managerial approaches, leading to a lack of consistency.
- API Security Challenges: More often than not, API management platforms handle security very well. However, there are times when there is an increased API usage that might compromise the ability of the management platform to provide adequate security for the APIs. For instance, pandemics such as the COVID-19 have changed how people work. This has led to an increase in the adoption of APIs. As a result, hackers are using this to target APIs.
Finally, any business that needs to invest in the use of APIs needs to make sure that they have implemented proper API management platforms. Even though there might be some challenges associated with these platforms, the benefits outweigh the challenges. Implementing the right API management platforms increases the chances of ensuring that your APIs are successful.