7 Best-practices for an Effective API & Service Management Strategies
APIs - Application Programming Interfaces are the unsung heroes of the application economy. Indeed, the applications wouldn’t exist without them. APIs are sets of defined rules that govern how one application can talk to another, providing ready-made, universal access to whatever functionality an organization needs to deliver.
On the Web, APIs make it possible for services like Google Maps or Facebook to let other apps ‘piggyback’ on their platform. For example, TripAdvisor displays nearby restaurants on a Google Map in its app or the way an airline displays hotel and car hire offers beside the flight reservation details.
A global study, commissioned by CA Technologies, APIs: Building a Connected Business in the App Economy, found that API adoption is increasing day by day with 88% of enterprises currently using them.
In the UK, 78% reported an improvement in customer experience from using APIs (the second-highest figure in EMEA after France), 68% cited an increase in digital reach and 78% experienced improvements in their supply or demand chains. Additionally, APIs have increased customer satisfaction by 36% and cut IT costs by 38%. The majority (52%) also believe their use of APIs is helping them differentiate themselves from their competitors.
But with all the above benefits we also have an enterprise challenge with using APIs. The challenge deals with managing the rapidly growing APIs in an Excel or a corporate Wiki or any other platform. The smartest organizations have discovered a set of best practices to design powerful and effective APIs that leverage existing services throughout the SDLC cycle. Let us take a look at them below:
SHIFT IN STRATEGY WITH SOA
There has been a shift in strategy with SOA - Service Oriented Architecture that sets the stage for API management. The SOA architecture has the right ambition to streamline processes, increase efficiency and lower the costs. But the approach chosen leads in the wrong direction. The problem hails in the execution of the strategy.
Organizations follow the top-down approach causing numerous issues across enterprise. This dictated a rip-replace strategy which aimed to gradually replace the aging enterprise systems with modern alternatives. Hence, the projects often dragged for years consuming more resources and budget ultimately became an extensive burden to the business.
NEXT-GEN SOA: API MANAGEMENT
API Management essentially involves Next-Generation SOA and shares many commonalities. In this particular strategy rather than using a top-down and rip-replace approach, API management follows a bottom-up and wrap-renew approach.
APIs essentially breathe new life into services by layering accessible and developer-friendly interfaces. This shields consumers from the underlying technology. Also API initiatives are ROI (Return on Investment).
API Management approach delivers following the key principles:
- Accelerated application development
- Reduced risk of failure
- Improved developer effectiveness
- Agility and flexibility
- Abstraction of business logic
- Solid governance framework
- Reusable services
THE EFFECTIVE API MANAGEMENT PROCESS
BEST-PRACTICE 1: APPLY AN API FIRST DESIGN APPROACH
The API first design approach creates the interface and then puts the back-end logic into place whether it is on cloud or on-premise. Clearly the method allows organizations to isolate concerns and to focus on clear and well-defined API specifications.
BEST-PRACTICE 2: CHOOSE A SOLID API RUNTIME
It is very important to find the appropriate Runtime once the API is designed, developed, and implemented. The key capabilities to look into for an API runtime are:
- Hybrid support
- Scalability, reliability, and availability
- Strong orchestration
BEST-PRACTICE 3: CREATE A CENTRAL SERVICE REPOSITORY
Exposing the API in a central repository is of paramount importance after designing, developing, and running the API on a solid platform. Surfacing the API facilitates discoverability and accessibility by people who need it. A central repository also makes it easy to categorize and search through services.
BEST-PRACTICE 4: MANAGE SERVICES THROUGH VERSIONS, POLICIES AND CONTRACTS
Tracking service versions and consumers give business insight about the API usage. As is, the tracking helps API lifecycle management and allows API publishers to assess the impact of its expiry. In addition, it is crucial to enforce policies and contracts to enable and manage SLA security.
BEST-PRACTICE 5: PROMOTE AND SOCIALIZE APIS
Creating a developer portal to establish a community around API is important. Publishers can engage with consumers by providing and promoting content that simplifies API consumption and strengthens your user base.
BEST-PRACTICE 6: MONITOR AND ASSESS API USAGE
The ability to monitor API usage over a defined period of time and to understand usage patterns from both technical and business perspectives is valuable.
BEST-PRACTICE 7: CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
The ability to refactor the API by iterating through all the above best-practices multiple times allows optimizing API over time to improve consumer experience and productivity.
With the progression towards a more connected and API driven world, defining and selecting the right API is crucial to support innovation and growth. At Accion Labs our developer teams can help you with the right API development and management methodologies and best practices. Reach out to us today to know more about it.