5 Factors to Consider Before Choosing an API Management Platform
5 Factors to Consider Before Choosing an API Management Platform
When selecting a solution for managing your APIs, assess its ease of use, manageability, governance, security, and breadth of features.
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The remarkable growth of the API (Application Programming Interface) economy has resulted in a corresponding rise in the need for API management platforms.
These solutions assist in creating, implementing, monitoring, analyzing, securing, and managing APIs — throughout their entire lifecycle.
By some estimates, the global API management market is projected to grow at an annual rate of more than 32.9% during the 2018-2023 forecast period, and be valued at $5.1 billion by 2023, from $1.2 billion in 2018.
Since the importance of API management is on the rise, several providers have started offering these services. Therefore, it’s essential to do your homework before selecting a solution suitable for your needs.
In this article, I’m going to talk about the following five important factors to consider before choosing a platform for managing your internal APIs as well as external API subscriptions:
Ease of use
Let me address these in more detail.
1. Ease of use
When searching for an API management tool, ease of use should be a major consideration, especially in an enterprise environment where several APIs may need to be controlled and managed.
It would help if you evaluate how easy it is to get up and running with the solution. Regardless of its deployment method, such as cloud or on-premise, you should ensure that your chosen tool is uncomplicated to set up. Does the provider offer support, tutorials, or other resources to make the platform easy to deploy?
Furthermore, you should assess the ease of use of the platform’s features. For example, is it easy for developers to perform a search to discover APIs? Does it offer support for code snippets to allow for easy integration of APIs into applications?
Is there an intuitive dashboard that gives analytics and quick insights into all the APIs consumed by the team? Does the platform allow an administrator to manage a team of developers easily?
You should also evaluate if the tool can be scaled easily. Let’s face it — you do not need an inflexible solution that cannot grow with your business needs or adapt to evolving requirements over time.
Also, the possibility of easily customizing the platform according to your organization’s brand is an excellent feature to look for. It’ll help your API program to stand out from the crowd and enrich your corporate brand image.
Most enterprises have diverse development, testing, and production environments. For example, an enterprise may have different types of APIs created using various technologies, geographically-distributed teams of developers, or deployment environments that transverse global data centers.
Therefore, manageability will be an essential factor before the selection decision. With a good API management tool, you can get a centralized platform for managing friction between the varied environments and make the most of your APIs.
You need an efficient solution that will act as a single organization-wide hub for managing your APIs from a single location. This way, you’ll avoid resource duplication and ensure the smooth integration of your disparate technologies.
Some of the factors you should consider include the efficiency of handling various team management activities such as adding or removing users from teams, ability to collate APIs from multiple environments according to similarities of features or use cases, and availability of reporting tools for managing API usage.
Governance is an overarching term usually used to refer to an extensive range of API management, administration, monitoring, and visibility requirements. It stipulates the terms and conditions for exposing the API data and functionality to various consumers.
The right API governance solution should grant you the ability to streamline and control the adoption of your APIs, regardless of the size of your organization. It should allow you to author policies that make APIs flawlessly accessible by different personas outside and inside your organization.
Some of the essential governance features you should look for in an API solution include the ability to enforce access management to guard against unauthorized intrusion, perform audit trails to track down malicious usage patterns, and carry out analysis and monitoring to keep abreast with APIs’ performance.
A good platform will also allow you to gain visibility into API usage and govern adoption by blacklisting or whitelisting APIs.
Security is another crucial consideration when selecting an API management platform. With the widespread adoption of APIs, it seems hackers are shifting their attention from the traditional targets to a new frontier that hasn’t been exhaustively exploited yet: APIs.
Since APIs offer programmatic access to data and services, this heightened transparency, which is buttressed within API documentation, makes them a soft target for malicious exploitations.
In fact, Gartner, a renowned research and advisory company, forecasts that by 2022, API vulnerabilities will be responsible for the highest number of attacks experienced in most enterprise web systems.
Therefore, security should not be an afterthought in your choice of an API management provider. For example, you can evaluate if the platform lets you apply strong authentication and authorization measures to safeguard access to your API program.
Also, you can assess if the platform offers parameter validation to ensure all incoming requests are validly received, supports enforcement of quotas and rate limiting to guard against an abnormal surge in traffic, and allows for the setup of fraud detection and prevention tools.
Lastly, you should consider the breadth of the platform’s features; that is, the extent of its comprehensiveness. Does it cover all the essential aspects for the success of the full API lifecycle, from development to deployment? These aspects consist of two phases — the API consumer and the API publisher.
For the API consumer, you should evaluate if the tool addresses these aspects: discovery, development, integration, monitoring, and management of APIs.
On the other hand, for the API publisher, the API management service should address these aspects: designing, creation, testing, security, monetization, and management of APIs.
With a comprehensive API management platform that tackles most, if not all, of the full API lifecycle management model, you can accomplish the benefits initially envisioned with the API programs.
As you may have realized, choosing an API management provider is not easy. So, it’s vital to take your time to assess a platform appropriately and ensure that it meets your needs and preferences.
For me, I’ve found that the Rakuten RapidAPI Enterprise Hub offers the best features for making the day-to-day tasks of managing APIs smooth and efficient.
Is there any specific factor you’d look for when selecting an API management platform?
Is there anything I’ve missed in this post?
Please provide your comment below.
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