API Management Best Practices
Originally published by New Context.
The dawn of the World Wide Web (WWW) enabled users from across the globe to connect from their computers to documents located on other computers identified by a unique uniform resource locator, or URL. The conduit that enabled these transfers of information was the internet, which can be described as a global interconnected network that utilizes specific communication devices and protocols.
The internet was then expanded to include all types of devices; such as mobile phones, tablets, appliances, vehicles, or any system that could house the necessary communication hardware, processing software, and a user interface—typically graphical. This type of graphical user interface, or GUI, has become the primary means by which users interact with other resources on the internet. Throughout this evolution of internet usage, local programs and applications have been developed that users of individual computers or computers within a network can access, provided they possess the proper access credentials.
Now, the ability to access and run applications that reside within other networks from a remote computer or other device has been extended throughout the internet. This capability is gained through the use of an application or app running on the remote device that is able to access and communicate with the application running on the host device. However, application programming interfaces (APIs) are required to make these interactions possible. Therefore, your ability to effectively utilize the vast resources available on the internet is critically dependent upon your usage of API management best practices. Prior to defining what these practices should be, let’s take a deep dive into API management and why it is so important.
What is API Management?
API management is best described as the process of overseeing all aspects of the APIs that your enterprise utilizes. This includes providing a means of building APIs, making them accessible for users, monitoring and analyzing their usage, reporting performance metrics and securing access. These functions, which must be supported equally to benefit both developers and users—or subscribers—are illustrated below:
Providing the type of functionality shown above requires that an API management solution contain essential supporting elements.
What Are the Elements of an API Management Solution?
APIs are essential for enterprises today, as they allow for interaction with and utilization of needed services and resources that are owned by other entities and reside on remote servers. Another aspect of API utilization is that it minimizes the need for wasteful redundancy of applications across the internet, which is significant as it reduces resource costs for cloud computing. To fully realize these and the other advantages of API utilization, the following elements should be included when creating or selecting an API management solution:
API gateways control access to your internal resources and external users. This includes handling requests, authenticating calls, limiting data rates, and dealing with errors.
The policy editor is a critical tool that enables the establishment and creation of policies for API call modification and/or conversion and security. Typical features of the policy editor are:
- Identity management policies
- Team collaboration policies
- Application delivery policies
- IoT integration policies
- Data transformation
Creating an API catalog is not only good “bookkeeping” but can also serve as the hub for your API management solution. A good catalog will contain a listing of all APIs, what they do, how to use them, pertinent statistics, and other useful information.
A client registry is also necessary. The registry contains a listing of B2B use cases, which applications can access which APIs, and a developer listing to ensure they have needed access and functionality. Some API management solutions include the registry as part of the catalog.
The developer portal will be the most important tool for the proliferation of your API. This is where developers can build and test their app’s integration with your API, communicate among themselves, access useful documentation, view and/or acquire sample code and obtain security access keys.
The above list is not exhaustive and different API management tools may have other elements and functionalities, but it is a solid base of essential features that should be a part of any solution.
What Constitutes the Best API Management?
The success of your enterprise’s digital transformation depends to a great extent on how effective your API management solution is at providing access and support for users, controlling access, and monitoring and analyzing APIs throughout their lifecycle until deprecation. This can be accomplished by following appropriate guidelines, including the following API management best practices:
- Make sure your API is available and minimize downtime.
- Provide as many options and much support as possible for developers.
- Ensure your API performs reliably.
- Maximize the speed of your API.
- Provide a cost-effective service.
- Prioritize security.
Satisfying the management practices above can be difficult, especially during cloud migration. Therefore, one of the best solutions for your API management is to utilize the expertise of a digital transformation consulting company.
As an industry leader, Copado has industry knowledge and experience in providing DevSecOps solutions that integrate advanced development with the protection of your data and other digital assets from unauthorized access. This includes assisting you with an API management solution that is focused on the needs of your specific enterprise.