API Management: An IoT Must-Have

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API Management: An IoT Must-Have

Without API management, your IoT application could be susceptible to any number of security or reliability issues. Read on to learn more.

· Integration Zone ·
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A few blog posts ago, we briefly mentioned the importance of having a good web API management strategy in place. That small blurb couldn’t be more important.

Without question, API management must be a central part of your overall IoT development strategy. Without API management, your IoT application could be susceptible to any number of security or reliability issues. As this Wired magazine article puts it, “APIs are a fundamental enabler of the Internet of Things; but without API management, the unique characteristics of IoT can easily lead to catastrophe.”


API Management Basics

API management refers to the overall process of publishing, promoting, and overseeing APIs in a secure environment. It is a collection of solutions such as gateways and security, with each solution having its own disaster mitigation plan.

API management services act as a proxy between the API and the end user. They usually provide a combination of API key and authorization controls, usage reporting and analytics, documentation, developer communities, and payment information. 

Why You Need It

Once your apps are out in the IoT universe, your API is being used and you’ll need to keep tabs on it. That’s why API management isn’t just another best practice for you to consider – it’s a must-have if you want to develop and implement a great IoT solution.

If you aren’t using a solution to manage your API, you might not catch anomalies or failures as they happen. You also might not be able to control versioning or support for outdated apps, developer and device registration and security, analytics, or performance.

Analysis is a particularly smart reason to have API management in place. For example, analysis could show you if your API capacity is being taxed so that you can respond in time. Additionally, in an emergency that requires your API to stay up and running, an effective management strategy could address the challenge by implementing throttling, prioritization, or scaling. 

The Essential Components

There are three components every API management solution should have. These are:

1. A Developer Portal

You need to have a place where developers can discover APIs and sign up to use them. It should also include developer API key control because it’s important to give developers the power to use APIs to connect things while also having the right to remove that access if needed.

2. API Gateway

A gateway, or a filter placed in your web stack, that secures and mediates the traffic between your APIs and the end users is a vital part of any API management service. A gateway can be used to provide access control, rate limiting, analytics, traffic routing, and security filtering.

3. API Lifecycle Management

Like any other successful business process, you need an end-to-end method for managing the design, development, deployment, versioning, and retirement of your APIs. Effective lifecycle management can help you address questions or concerns about an API’s usefulness and quality, as well as the impact of potential changes before they’re rolled out.

Choosing the Right Tools

So, what makes an API management a good choice? Generally, it should offer comprehensive documentation, strong analytics, easy deployment, a sandbox environment for developing and testing your code, identity and access management, monetization, and high availability and scalability.

You might consider an API management solution from one of the following companies, all of which offer strong management services:

  • 3Scale offers a hybrid solution for deploying, managing, and monitoring APIs. It features cloud-based API administration and analytics and offers a developer and partner portal.
  • Apigee provides a variety of management services, including API analytics, a developer portal, and traffic and performance management.
  • Mashery supports both SaaS and on-premises implementations as well as some hybrid API models.
  • CA Layer7 features integration, security and performance management, mobile optimization, and portals for developers.
  • MuleSoft offers open-source solutions designed to provide simple API design, as well as advanced integration and testing capabilities.
  • Axway provides an API gateway that gives you the tools to create, integrate, and manage APIs.
  • WSO2 is another open-source service. It includes API integration, management, and identity services, and it supports public and private clouds as well as hybrid implementations.
  • Tyk is an open-source, fast, and scalable API management platform featuring an API gateway, analytics, developer portal, and dashboard.
  • The Main Goal: Making It Easy

    Whatever API management service you choose, the main goal of all these solutions is the same: making it easier for you to design, deploy, and manage your API. And they also help you ensure your API is secure by protecting your back-end services so that it’s much harder for end users to cause problems.  

    But what if you’re tempted to build your own API management service? There are, in fact, projects out there that you can use to manage throughput or analytics. We strongly advise against this, if only because of the immense amount of time you’ll spend designing the exact functionality you need to manage your API. You need to focus all your development time on the API, not on support and maintenance.

    api management, integration, iot

    Published at DZone with permission of Sheena Chandok , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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