How to run API programs effectively at scale and with good governance
APIs Today and Tomorrow
For organizations across all industries striving to remain competitive today and preparing for future success, APIs are increasingly important. Their role is critical to SaaS, mobile application development and cross-software integration and communication.
API usage is widespread, even if their use to connect platforms and ecosystems remains sketchy or unknown to the vast majority of technology users. API use is not restricted to IT departments, they may also often be found within each line of business (LOB) of an organization.
With every connected mobile app, every website that tracks users or provides a rich user experience, and every application deployed on a cloud service using API calls, the numbers of APIs within organizations is growing rapidly.
COVID-19 has accelerated this trend. Increased usage of remote applications and devices during lockdowns means API calls have experienced an increase of as much as 50% compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
The Challenges of the API Lifecycle at Scale
The API ecosystem is extensive and growing fast. For organizations to remain competitive, there is an ever-increasing rush to develop and publish APIs. However, developing one API in isolation is not the same as creating and managing an API estate where you have to support tens, hundreds, or even thousands of APIs. At scale, the processes of the API lifecycle bring challenges that simply don’t exist when you are dealing with a single instance or implementation of an API.
Mastering Technical Complexity
When you start, you need to make a series of technical decisions that strongly influence the future success of your API program. The first is choosing a reliable set of tools and technologies with which to initially build out your API program. When you begin, you are likely to have just a small set of APIs in your program. But this is not the way it is going to stay. As your program scales up, things are going to get complicated!
Primarily, you need to be able to keep an eye on a lot of processes being undertaken by a number of teams in multiple locations. The tooling needed to keep track of a handful of APIs all built by the same team in a single physical location is simply inadequate for keeping track of hundreds or thousands of API entry points scattered across multiple time zones and countries. So, you need to adopt a strategic and highly structured approach. And it is not just planning and development that needs to be considered. The processes needed to monitor and manage the APIs at runtime also change as the system upscales and matures.
Ensuring Good Governance
If we think beyond mastering technical complexity presented by a large scale API ecosystem, there is also the question of management control and the issues that cascade from it. Ultimately there is a need to integrate best practice, security and privacy standards, the key factors that determine API quality and trust.
The mechanism of governance changes as the API estate grows. Once again, what works for a handful of APIs is inadequate for large scale deployments. New challenges appear, and the old methods are no longer effective. In fact, sticking to old governance models may slow or even stall the success of your APIs.
When scope and scale of deployment are limited, providing direct guidance on governance is likely to prove most effective. For these small or new teams, the quickest way to make up for a lack of experience is through using detailed guidance and/or process documents. However, as your API landscape grows, your governance model needs to move away from presenting first principles. The best approach is to adopt a governance model built around collecting and sharing practices from experienced teams within your organization.
One of the key shifts that happens when you start thinking strategically and begin managing the API estate instead of individual APIs, is in the way consistent guidance sets out the standards for teams designing, implementing, and deploying APIs in your organization.
Cost Control and ROI
API programs are not cheap. And it’s not just about financial investment. You need to carefully monitor the investment of time and energy into your activities to identify the factors that determine the success of your API’s.
Providing API teams with a set of technical tools and equipping them with a very clear, detailed set of guidance documentation is pivotal to preventing the waste of time and money. Good governance is essential for providing trusted, reliable APIs that generate revenue.
However, there is also the need for something that helps API teams work well together to create APIs that solve your business problems and that provides reporting and BI to inform decision making.
Ultimately, when it comes to controlling costs and delivering measurable success, the overarching requirement is to promote workflow efficiency that supports a faster time to ROI.
Running Effective API Programs at Scale and with Good Governance Using APIwiz
APIwiz is an integrated platform that brings together the tools required to run large scale API programs and provide the management controls that underpin good governance. This ensures that every organization participating in the API economy has the capability to manage its API estate holistically throughout the lifecycle of each API.
APIwiz encompasses the engineering and the technical elements of API design and development. It also enshrines good governance by supporting best practice, security and privacy, guaranteeing API compliance and reliable performance.
For the enterprise, APIwiz embeds the ability for API teams to collaborate. From business unit managers and API program managers, right through to developers, the platform provides the tools for efficient workflow that accelerates the API go to market and produces a faster time to ROI.
To see how APIwiz helps enterprises remain competitive today, and prepares you for future success in the API economy, simply book your demo.