As APIs become increasingly prevalent in digital systems, software teams look to speed their delivery process using virtualized versions of their APIs to simplify timing and resource logistics.
Traditionally, using virtual APIs has required teams to set up an enterprise service virtualization solution. These solutions required teams to stand up a full-stack of resources, training, and management. The total cost of ownership over an enterprise service virtualization solution, typically in the range of $50,000 - $200,000, includes:
- Time identifying an appropriate solution
- Initial licensing costs
- Implementation and professional services costs
- Cost to reconfigure virtualization strategy due to project changes
- Employee training
Delays in budgeting and purchasing such a costly solution prevent teams from being efficient in their projects long after the need for service virtualization is realized.
Luckily, today teams are able to setup virtual APIs through more lightweight virtualization services, like ServiceV. Many teams do not require mainframe or database level virtualization. For these teams, virtualization of specifically API dependencies (aka. “API virtualization”) is a significantly more affordable alternative to full-stack enterprise service virtualization.
How Does It Work?
API virtualization is a ground-up attitude to mimicking system behaviors and does not assume that an entire environment is required in order to simulate realistic behavior, just what is necessary.
With API virtualization, front-end designers, testers, and system integrators can begin their work as soon as developers produce an initial specification (WSDL, RAML, Swagger, etc.) early on in the design process.
How Does API Virtualization Reduce Project Cost?
If you’re already relying on, or evaluating an enterprise service virtualization solution, it’s clear to see the cost-saving benefits of using an API virtualization tool instead.
But there are other benefits that will continue to payoff for your team after the tool is implemented.
- Speeding up time to delivery: By virtualizing APIs that are still being developed, you can get ahead of the game by creating functional tests and/or performance tests against that API, so that you’ll be ready to hit the ground running as soon as the API is completed. Enabling teams to work independently represents opportunity cost savings in that when teams finish faster, they can move on to the next project faster as well.
- Reduce cost of working with third party APIs: Testing against third party APIs can result in fees well beyond established budget constraints. Some third parties won’t automatically cut off clients who exceed their limit, resulting in an unanticipated explosion in cost to the client at the end of the billing cycle. Virtualization of these external APIs is the easiest and fastest way to avoid these situations.
- Reduce time spent on building and training: API virtualization itself is only a supportive task to building the actual system, and any time spent on it is time not spent on building or testing the actual system. Therefore, minimizing the amount of work and time it takes to configure virtual APIs improves both opportunity cost and minimizes unnecessary enterprise licensing costs.
Implementing an API Virtualization Solution
You’ll have the best results when selecting an API virtualization tool that fits in with your existing systems and processes. When SmartBear surveyed more than 2,300 software professionals that work with APIs as part of the State of API 2016 Report, we found that integration with existing tools and systems was the number one factor teams consider when implementing an API tool.
Some of the questions you can ask when evaluating whether or not the tool will work with your existing systems and processes include:
- What protocols does the tool support (SOAP, REST, JDBC, HTTP/S)?
- What data formats can be used (XML, JSON, TEXT)?
- What is required to implement the tool?
- Can it simulate the behavior you need, and will it continue to meet your needs as your team scales?
Build APIs Better, Faster, Stronger With ServiceV
The big question still remains: How do you implement an API virtualization program that delivers results? That is the question we plan to answer in our upcoming webinar: Build APIs Better, Faster, Stronger: 3 Real-World Examples of API Virtualization in Action.
This webinar will cover three practical examples of virtualization in action. We’ll cover:
- How organizations speed time-to-market by reducing dependencies between API development and testing teams
- How companies have lowered delivery costs by overcoming third party rate limits
- How organizations achieve expanded testing capabilities by controlling API conditions
- A live demonstration of ServiceV
We’re offering two sessions of the webinar on Tuesday, June 14 at 10am and 2pm.