Updated 8 May 2020 | Lexy Mayko

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are becoming a thing of common interest in not just the world of technology, but the one of business as well. A growing number of enterprises engage API technologies in hope to level up and above on the market. Once the API is ready for consumers or third parties to use, there comes the time for the holder to think about its management.

API management is what provides the necessaries to ensure that an API program is successful and some of them are security, monitoring, distribution, developer engagement, support, and analytics. These are performed on two levels, or, as Steven Willmott calls them, elements of API management, the technical and business ones.

The technical management layer embraces security, monitoring, scalability, and distribution done by tech employees while the business layer involves sales, support and other teams conducting CRM, analytics, sales, billing, and support operations. Together they function as a ‘mechanism’ that ensures that the API is secure and works correctly as well as controls the right use of it by third party developers.

Among the API management operations mentioned above, there are three that are key and most needed. Here authentication & authorization control, limit & usage policies, and analytics are meant.

API management needs vary for each API, and their types are the key factor to consider before opting for an API management solution. Bob Brauer singles out two main classes of APIs:

  • those that drive a product (e.g. Starbucks API providing the nearest “Starbucks location") and are usually free to use
  • those that are a product themselves and require payment for the valuable information they provide (e.g. StrikeIron data validation APIs)

There are four possible solutions for API management each having its advantages:

  • API management services (the main strong point of API management services is the variety of tools they offer along with providing multiple ways to integrate into the API flow. Some examples of such vendors are 3scale, Apigee, and Mashery)
  • custom API management building (perfect to meet specific business needs that cannot be covered by other solutions)
  • open-source tools (the newly released Kong cannot but be mentioned here)
  • a blend of the three

To conclude with, API management is a complex process and choosing the right way to do it is of vital importance. We hope that the crash course helped you in some way.

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