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What is API Management? A Complete Guide

Abeeha Jaffery

Lead - Campaign Marketing

March 20th, 2024

APIs have been around for a while now. They gained prominence in the 2000s with the rise of web-based applications. The exponential increase today cloud-based applications has propelled their production and consumption even further—so much so that the global API market is set to reach USD 6263.00 million by 2028.  

 It’s no surprise, given the fact that modern businesses use them extensively to unlock data and, in turn, create collaborative applications and connected customer experiences.  

 The growing demand to effectively handle interconnected applications has given rise to the need for robust API management. Subsequently, organizations are adopting automated API management tools to streamline API lifecycle and ensure efficiency and effectiveness throughout the development and deployment processes. 

What is API Management?

API management is the set of processes, tools, and policies that facilitate the creation, deployment, monitoring, and optimization of APIs in a secure and scalable manner. The objective of API management is to ensure that the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) is aligned with organizational objectives. 

What is API Management Important?

API management is the key to adopting a company-wide API strategy. It’s all about exposing your data and functionalities to your customers, other businesses, or different departments within your company in a way that’s secure and scalable. Well-managed APIs can be scaled up or down as needed to ensure your services run smoothly and don’t crash just when your users need them most.  

It also encourages API-led development and data exchange, which allows you to launch new initiatives faster and create seamless customer experiences. For example, you can launch mobile services and applications quickly by leveraging APIs that connect to your back-end systems and provide functionalities such as payment processing via PayPal or Stripe and user authentication via OAuth.  

With API management, you can control who uses your organization’s APIs and how, which is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the services you offer. Additionally, it enables you to smoothly roll out updates or retirements of API versions without disrupting service for your consumers.  

Your APIs must evolve to incorporate new features or adjust functionalities to meet consumer expectations and market needs, which shift rapidly. And as new technologies and platforms emerge, you will need to integrate them into your data stack to stay relevant. All of this becomes straightforward with API management, which allows you to refine your APIs and maintain a competitive edge.  

How does API Management Work for Businesses?

API management is like having a well-organized control center for your digital interactions that ensures a smooth and secure exchange of data between your applications, partners, and customers. It works by providing a centralized platform to create, publish, and govern APIs throughout their lifecycle.  

1. Creation  

The process begins with API creation, where you define the functionality and data access points you want to expose. The creation process involves setting up endpoints, specifying request and response formats, and establishing authentication mechanisms. Many API management platforms now also come with the option to autogenerate documentation. A well-documented API is more likely to be successful because it is easier for developers to use it.  

2. Publishing  

Once you create your APIs, the API management platform facilitates their publication, which is basically making them accessible to your internal and external developers, partners, or other stakeholders. The platform allows you to control who can access your APIs by defining authentication protocols and access policies.  

3. Traffic Management  

Traffic management enables your business to set limits on the number of requests an API can handle within a specified timeframe, which helps prevent overloading the server, ensuring consistent and reliable performance even during periods of high demand.  

4. Monitoring and Analytics  

Two integral components of API management are monitoring and analytics. They provide real-time insights into API usage, performance, and potential issues so you can track metrics that are important to you, such as, response times, error rates, and user activity.  

Benefits of Effective API Management  

When dealing with a few APIs, you can easily embed security in the code and monitor their usage. However, as the numbers increase, most organizations (88%) find it challenging to manage them, which is precisely why API management is essential—it provides you with centralized access to your APIs. 

Here are the benefits of API management:  

1. Improved Efficiency  

API management means you centralize your API operations and streamline tasks such as deployment, monitoring, and version control. As a result, you reduce the complexity of managing numerous APIs individually, while optimizing the overall workflow at the same time.  

2. Added Security  

An integral part of API management is ensuring that only the right people and systems can use your APIs. To do so, you can incorporate different security measures into your API management strategy, such as implementing authentication, which verifies the identity of anyone trying to connect. Additionally, you can decide what an authenticated user is allowed to do. Your API communications can also be encrypted to protect sensitive data in transit via robust API management.  

 3. Enhanced Scalability  

Controlling API traffic becomes a simple task with a proper API management strategy as you can distribute incoming API calls across several servers using load balancing. Setting the rate limits enables you to control the number of requests a user can make in a certain period and prevent overuse. You can further reduce the load on your servers by implementing caching, which reduces the number of direct calls made to the backend.  

4. Enables Monetization  

When you are managing multiple APIs, there is an opportunity to monetize them  and create a new source of revenue for your business. For example, you can incorporate new business models and capitalize on the functionality your services offer, potentially expanding your market by offering your API products to external developers and businesses.  

 5. Empowering Developers  

With the availability of comprehensive documentation and support, API management serves as a valuable asset for your developers as it shifts their focus from grappling with complexities to building innovative solutions. As a result, you create a collaborative environment for your developers whose roles now extend beyond mere coding to actively shaping the future of applications within your organization.  

In short, API management helps you monitor traffic to prevent overload, authenticate users to maintain security, and even charge for access if that’s part of your business model.  

API Management Use Cases  

Your business likely has a diverse set of applications and services, each speaking its own language. While each application and service can function on its own, they need to be able to talk to and understand each other in order for you to make the most of them.  

Here are some API management use cases that can benefit businesses:  

1. Digital Transformation  

The real gains of a harmonious digital ecosystem come when you break down data silos and ensure that data flows effortlessly across your organization. API management does just that—it comes in as an enabler. It catalyzes the digital transformation journey to modernize your infrastructure, bridging the gap between your legacy systems and modern tools and technologies. Whether you aim to enhance customer experiences through integrated applications or optimize internal processes for maximum efficiency, API management propels your organization into the future of digital possibilities.  

2. B2B Integration  

API management acts as the foundation for fostering communication and collaboration. It streamlines B2B processes by orchestrating the flow of information between trading partners. With B2B integration, you also get the ability to monitor and analyze your data exchanges. Access to valuable insights into performance metrics helps identify areas for optimization. For instance, you can improve the accuracy of your data transmission or streamline your workflows to reduce order processing timelines.  

3. API Integration  

One of the ways you can bind your disparate systems and services is through API integration. A centralized platform for API creation, deployment, and maintenance helps you easily integrate your applications and foster a more interconnected and agile ecosystem. It facilitates communication between multiple applications without getting lost in translating the different data formats and communication protocols.  

4. Partner Ecosystem Development  

API management sets up the stage for your business to team up with your partners. It provides a secure and organized way for them to plug into your digital realm and collaborate. It isn’t just about sharing information; for your businesses, it means a faster track to new products and a broader reach into untapped markets. In short, API management facilitates the creation of a thriving digital community where partnerships flourish and innovation thrives.  

API Management Tools

key API Management capabilities

API management tools include features that cater to the API lifecycle from start to finish. Modern API management tools, have the following capabilities:  

  • API Design: It provides the framework for a user to create, test, and manage customized API flows.  
  • API Gateway: Enables you to direct the flow of data between applications. It handles tasks like authentication, traffic control, and routing to ensure a smooth and secure data exchange. It is the first line of defense for your digital assets from unauthorized access.  
  • API Testing: It allows users to ensure that API is working as expected at every step of the design process as well as post-publishing.  
  • API Security: It authenticates and enforces API security policies at runtime to ensure secure sharing of data. API management platforms ensure improved data security and greater protection through authentication, authorization, and policy-driven firewalls.  
  • API Documentation: It makes it easier for third-party users to consume APIs by auto-generating OpenAPI specifications that can be reused for building applications and processes.  
  • API Monitoring and Analytics: It allows users to monitor API usage, load, and other vital metrics and help them understand the success and health of APIs. API management tools also excel in analytics to provide valuable insights for strategic decision-making.  
  • API Developer Portals: An API store or community site that includes clear and comprehensive API documentation, which serves as a roadmap that guides them through the intricacies of your APIs. It also includes a marketplace to subscribe to APIs and manage their subscription keys.  

 

Astera API Management—The No-Code Way to Manage APIs  

Astera offers a complete API lifecycle management and integration solution. The tool’s powerful built-in functionalities and visual drag-and-drop interface reduces API management to a few clicks.  

Using Astera API Management solution, you can rapidly develop API endpoints and publish them as APIs within minutes, without writing a single line of code. By packing all powerful functionalities in one tool, Astera API Management allows businesses to deliver new solutions faster.  

Astera API Management solution has the following capabilities:  

  • API Design: The tool has a vast library of built-in connectors, transformations, and query parameters to simplify API development. You can also use this to orchestrate data or task-intensive API pipelines. The designer also has an API consumption component using which you can integrate external APIs of payment services, social media, CRM, and ERP products.  
  • API Testing: Astera supports instant data preview, making design time testing easier. Once you have designed your API, you can immediately deploy it and generate automated test flows with one click.  
  • API Publishing: Once you have designed the API, publish it with just a few click in the cloud, on-premises, or hybrid environments to share data and functionalities with external users.  
  • API Security: Astera has a built-in security framework with authorization and authentication features that lets you leverage bearer tokenization and implement access control.  
  • API Management: Through a centralized wizard, you can manage the critical elements of your API lifecycle. You can use it to gain API visibility, modify, activate and deactivate endpoints, and conduct run time tracing.  
  • API Monitoring: Visualize the performance metrics of your deployed APIs in a built-in dashboard to get extensive information on your APIs’ health. Additionally, the solution offers reports and logs for detailed analysis.  
  • Governance: Astera provides a centralized repository for all data artifacts. Some salient governance features include secure systems, lineage and impact analysis, version control, and sharing data artifacts.  

Using Astera API Management solution enables you to manage the end-to-end lifecycle of your APIs and turn API integration from a challenge into a strategic growth opportunity.  

Are you interested in adopting an enterprise-wide API-first strategy to create collaborative applications and manage, access, and share data and functionalities with stakeholders and partners? Schedule a demo to learn more about our unified code-free API lifecycle management solution.

 

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