API Management is a set of processes, policies, principles, and practices that allow owners to gain control over their API. The integrated systems that make-up API management are born out of a large set of questions that project managers, developers, and team leads hope to answer.
- Is our API secure?
- How can we handle who accesses the API?
- What’s the best design?
- Can we effectively monetize its use?
- How do we know what’s happening at all times?
- How will the API evolve?
Fortunately, with the rise of API infrastructures, many other people have been forced to answer these same questions. Their answers turned into guidelines, best-practices, and specifications. Additionally, API management tools became available to help teams out as they encountered tedious or difficult tasks.
We hope to explain the different components of API management. Giving you the knowledge and tools to take control of your API.
API Management Components
Below are the various aspects of proper API management. Each section contains a description and a link to explore that component in depth.
Design informs managers of constraints. It’s beneficial to know how the API is designed to work. Choosing the right API design for the project can be critical to understanding how users access the API, or how the API scales.
The most common design for APIs is REST. Before the introduction of RESTful architecture, there was SOAP APIs. Other considerations for API design include versioning, authorization, supported data formats (i.e JSON, XML), and supported query types.
Finally, in 2015, GraqhQL was released to the public and has added another layer of decisions for an API’s design. If you are looking for a place to start, API design is the recommended component.
An API gateway is responsible for processing incoming API requests and orchestrating the delivery of resources from the API.
The gateway determines if the request is authorized to access resources. Then, it’s sent off to the resource. The resource could be a microservice, authentication server, load balancer, or cache manager.
If an organization had several API resources, authentication and orchestration would happen on every resource. Gateways add another layer of network abstraction to free up the resource.
Analytics is data collected from the API. This data typically involves usage statistics. The most common statistic in API analytics is latency. How long does it take for the request to complete?
Latency is useful because it involves many factors. A single request has many facets, including:
- Request size
- Response size
Understanding your API’s analytics is like reading the results of a blood test to determine the health of your API. It’s important to have the ability to check in on your API and work to improve its functionality.
Portals are a workspace. It’s where programmers enter the world of their APIs and applications. Like stepping into the office and sitting down at your desk, a portal is a place where work is done.
Developer portals are how developers understand, interact, adopt, monitor, and govern new technologies.
API Lifecycle Management
You have probably heard about the lifecycle that products go through. Similarly, APIs have life cycles of their own.
Understanding common API lifecycle patterns can help managers plan for future changes and prevent common API pitfalls. Many of the components discussed in this article are part of the API lifecycle, for example:
Additionally, delivering APIs is a continuous process. API management needs to identify the stakeholders of each lifecycle, and how the cycle turns over with each version or iteration.
Monetizing your APIs should be a straightforward process. Users can access the API’s resources based on their subscription level. Furthermore, management can control usage, set quotas, grant access, and determine appropriate pricing levels.
Different types of pricing plans include free, pay-per-use, and paid plans (quota or unlimited access). Determining the right monetization strategy depends on the organization and API.
No management is complete without the peace of mind of API security. Additionally, API safety depends on the other management components, like:
Developing an approach to security and policies is vital for maintaining a secure API ecosystem. However, it begins with an understanding of topics like CORS, API Keys, authentication, and authorization.
API Management Tools and Solutions
The effectiveness of managers depends on their tools. Leveraging API management solutions to common API problems can do more than cure a headache. Conversely, given the multitude of products, it can be difficult to filter through all of the available API tools on the market.
How RapidAPI Can Help
RapidAPI is an organization dedicated to the developers, teams, and organizations that rely on APIs every day. The platform allows users to find, connect to, and manage thousands of APIs.
API Management Solutions
- API Marketplace The world’s largest API Marketplace to find, connect to, and manage APIs.
- Teams Centralized workspace to share and collaborate on APIs and micro-services.
- API Enterprise Hub A private, white-labeled marketplace for developers, partners, and customers to find and connect to a company’s APIs.
- API Testing Create and manage API tests from development to deployment.
What exactly is an API?
An API is an acronym for Application Programming Interface, is a set of definitions and protocols that allow technology products and services to communicate with each other via the internet.
What does API management mean?
API Management is a set of processes, policies, principles, and practices that allow owners to gain control over their API. The management process includes designing, developing, securing, monetizing, and maintaining the API through its lifecycle.
Why is API management important?
API management is important because it encompasses the higher-level processes that cannot be managed by individual stakeholders responsible for designing, developing, and securing APIs.
How do you implement API management?
API management is best implemented at the beginning of the API design process. This allows managers to incorporate the different aspects as the API progresses through its lifecycle. Otherwise, API management is implemented through the various components that make up what API management is.
What is an API policy?
An API policy is a way to program API management capabilities into the API. Policies are often implemented by the API Gateway.