What is API management?
API management is designing, deploying, and monitoring APIs so developers and consumers can use them effectively and securely at any scale.
Typically handled by the API provider, this includes a set of practices, strategies, and tools that help to publish and optimize APIs to meet business goals. Managing APIs is critical to unlocking their full potential, ensuring reliable performance, and creating a quality developer and end-user experience.
API solutions, platforms, and providers often assume full responsibility for managing APIs for businesses or developers. Known as fully-managed APIs, these APIs are overseen by the service provider for the entire API lifecycle—including deployment, maintenance, scalability, and routine updates. Fully-managed APIs allow the business or developer to focus on using the API functionalities instead of attending to the complicated underlying technical aspects.
Elements of API management
Design: Leading APIs are well-structured and offer consistent, predictable behavior. This involves defining the API endpoints, methods, data structures, and request and response formats.
Publishing: APIs are made available to developers through an API portal or developer portal, which is a central hub for API documentation, code samples, and other resources.
Documentation: API platforms provide clear, comprehensive documentation that explains how to use the API, its endpoints, authentication methods, and more.
Security: To protect APIs from unauthorized access and malicious activity, the provider should implement various security measures such as authentication, authorizations, encryption, and token management.
Monitoring: The performance, uptime, and API usage should be monitored continuously to ensure it meets the standards established in service-level agreements (SLAs).
Analytics: Collecting and analyzing data on API usage, traffic, and error rates provides insights that can inform improvements and optimize performance.
Traffic management: Rate limiting, throttling, and caching mechanisms should be implemented to manage API traffic and prevent overload.
Versioning: Managing the different versions of an API allows for backward compatibility, updates, and enhancements.
Developer onboarding: Developers require resources and tools to understand and start using the API quickly, including code samples, tutorials, demos, and an API sandbox for testing.
Governance and compliance: APIs are designed to comply with industry regulations, legal requirements, and internal policies that pertain to their intended use cases.
API management is a crucial process for organizations that want to get the most from APIs while ensuring security, reliability, and performance. For businesses that prefer to focus on their core competencies rather than API management, the fully-managed APIs from API solutions are a convenient option.
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