By Mike Fradkin, Senior Manager, Product Marketing
APIs, APIs, APIs. If I don’t hear the term API 37 times a day, it must mean it’s the weekend. Lately, it’s every other word out of my mouth for two reasons:
- APIs are everywhere, and for good reason. A Q1 Forbes article cited research showing that “firms using APIs saw 12.7% more growth in market capitalization compared to those that did not adopt APIs.” The same research showed that there was 38% growth over 16 years when extending the study. So API use has been growing, and adopters, particularly early adopters, have reaped sustained, data-backed business benefits.
These benefits don’t always come easily, however. An organizational commitment to API-driven services is more than just saying the words. Gartner warns that “misalignment between API strategy and business goals results in failure to capture the benefits initially envisioned from APIs.” Indeed, those reaping API benefits are not doing so without a degree of planning and ongoing governance, which brings me to the second reason the term API is leaving my mouth so often:
- I work for Pliant, a company focused on providing modern approaches to API integration and automation. We just released our API Gateway product, geared directly toward the security, visibility, and control needed to provide widespread, consumable API-based services, while maximizing business benefits.
Since my “API” utterance count is only at 20 so far in this blog, let me take a step back and explain what an API Gateway does so I can get my daily quota up. An API Gateway sits between API-based services and the users, devices, and applications that consume those services. In the case of the Pliant API Gateway, it provides management functions that add control, stability, and insight to an organization’s API ecosystem and allows them to provide APIs “as-a-service” to their organization.
Now that I’ve gotten my API utterance quota up a bit and talked in broad strokes, let me share some real-world examples of how this helps:
- Limiting users to only specific functions within a broader API.
Example: Let’s say the application you use for IT service management has an API that does 100 things, from resetting a password to shutting down a server for maintenance. You want level-one help desk folks to be able to use the API for some of those things, but not the things that could accidentally cause operational downtime. The API Gateway enables this control. With it, you can parse out a larger API and publish only those services you want your level-one help desk audience and their apps to perform.
- Changing APIs without impacting the endpoints that use them.
Example: Let’s say you’re an agile development team working for a retailer. You’ve developed a service that produces data on low inventory SKUs. You create a URL or API endpoint for this service so all your various channels and apps can consume it. However, you’re an agile team and are going to iterate on the service repeatedly, making it more functional, faster, and leaner. Using Pliant’s API Gateway to manage this API, you can push new versions of it as often as you wish without ever changing the published endpoint or impacting the channels and applications that consume it.
Gaining insights on API performance, usage, and compliance.
Example: Let’s say you’ve built an API for low inventory SKUs as in the last example. How do you know who is using it, when they are using it, how widely it’s consumed, and how frequently? How do you report on things like the APIs response time? How do you enforce its use within the boundaries of your company’s usage and security policies? Sitting in the flow of API management, the Pliant API Gateway can provide this control and visibility.
Well, I’m at an API utterance count of 42 now, which I guess means I can go home for the day (not really), but I’ll leave you with some final words from that earlier Gartner research “By 2023, over 50% of B2B transactions will be performed through real-time APIs versus traditional approaches.” and “without metrics for API usage and performance there is no visibility into how APIs are working and impacting customers and services and inhibiting improvements”.
So, without a doubt, API usage will grow, and those who have executed a well-thought-out, modern approach supported by the right tools will be part of the business success stats of the next set of studies. If you wish to be one of them, give us a shout.
PS: API (did I reach a count of 50?)