The modern world rests on API

Today's world rests on application programming interfaces - APIs. With them, it became possible to receive data and consume services through web applications, mobile applications and devices connected to the network. Increasingly, interactions on the Internet are performed through the API. Thanks to the API, new business models are emerging, and the Internet has become a universal business platform.

The API has no industrial binding; companies from different sectors of the economy see in their use the value for their business. In turn, the market for API management software is growing rapidly, as reported by Gartner and Forrester .

Just a few years ago, the interaction between different divisions of the same business was usually provided through an integration bus. But the model of interaction through the API portal - the portal on which the APIs are published - turned out to be so convenient that it is now used internally.

How is it that, even choosing a model of interaction between departments, companies today are inclined to solutions based on API? What is the essence of the current technological model and what are the new rules of the game?

Open APIs - a mod or a necessity?

Using open APIs is not just a fashion or a trend of the times, it is a response to market requirements. Banks, telecommunications companies and insurance companies already publish their services for external use, for integration with partners and for automating financial flows. It seems that the day is not far off when they will be joined by suppliers of entertainment, operational services and physical goods.

In Europe, interest in financial flow innovation has been supported by the European Parliament's payment directive PSD2, which has been issued to create a more even, transparent and open payment market that will foster innovation, competition and security. In Russia, the development of open APIs is officially recognized as a key element necessary for the effective integration of systems of financial market participants.

The Russian state and its financial sector have already realized the need for open banking. The provision of banking APIs to external organizations is recognized as a key element necessary for the effective integration of systems of financial market participants; initiatives to issue open APIs are supported by the Central Bank, portal, the Moscow Exchange, the National Clearing Center and the National Settlement Depository. Some banks have already formulated their strategy of open banking, decided on a model for further actions, officially announced access to their systems and services through open APIs and started the corresponding work.

List of APIs on webMethods API portal

Domestic mobile operators also offer new platforms with APIs for the development of their partners' businesses. This will allow telecommunication providers to support their partners by combining their offers and expanding their sales market for them.

Russian banks and telecommunication providers are precisely those enterprises that were the first to recognize themselves as software developers, and the market as a large digital platform for managing products, setting up marketing campaigns and interacting with potential customers. Product teams, customers, companies and customers understand that the more open they are, the more open their products will be, and the faster they will integrate into the common ecosystem of the markets in which they operate. Therefore, they use open APIs - a reasonable and effective way for developers to interact, which can dramatically reduce the time it takes for new products to enter the market.

In addition, open APIs are presented to their partners by software developers such as Yandex. Russian Post also offers integration with external applications via the API, which allows you to embed Russian Post services in third-party sites, applications, accounting and document management systems - for example, add tracking functions to sites.

And, of course, creating products with open APIs is natural for software developers themselves, such as Software AG. The more fully their products are documented and the better they are managed, the more users they will have.

But open API management is not given to anyone from above. It is impossible without an appropriate technology stack.

Who develops API platforms and how they work

According to the aforementioned Gartner Magic Quadrant , Google, CA Technologies, IBM, Software AG, MuleSoft, Red Hat and TIBCO Software are leaders in the market for API full lifecycle management systems. In a recent study, Forrester calls IBM, Google, Software AG, Rogue Wave Software, and WSO2 leaders.

According to a Forrester report : “APIs are a key foundation for digital transformation. They help optimize customer experience, create integrated digital ecosystems of customers and partners, enable companies to capitalize on breakthrough digital innovations, increase operational efficiency and lay the foundation for platform business models ... API management solutions play a central role in managing relationships between suppliers and API users “Developers and application providers should consider them as business applications critical to the success of the digital business.”

API Administration Interface

“Without full API lifecycle management, you cannot create a platform for digital strategy, build an ecosystem and launch effective products,” Gartner adds in his report.

What do systems provide for managing the full API life cycle? Typically, the API life cycle management technology stack includes API publishing tools on an easy-to-read portal, the main user of which is third-party developers, the environment of operation, consumption, maintenance, version control of the API and their decommissioning tools. Some developers (including Software AG) also provide API planning, design, implementation, and testing tools.

We at Software AG were in charge of managing the API, when it was also called “internal interaction.” We have expanded and improved middleware, application integration solutions, systems for creating an enterprise service bus and tools for creating systems based on a service-oriented architecture.

In 2004, in addition to our integration bus, we created the B2B Trading Networks product, designed for inter-partner interaction and data exchange. It implemented quite classic user scenarios of partner relations, including continuous monitoring, service, data exchange based on the results of the trading day. Then it was not called open APIs yet.

Finally, five years ago, we introduced the full API management lifecycle as part of the webMethods API management platform. In 2014, we launched webMethods API Portal for API developers, and in 2016 we combined the functionality of the webMethods API Gateway API , portal, and mediation and life cycle management tools into one platform. These tools support the development of the API, their assembly, approval and publication in the adopted technology standard and are part of the Software AG Hybrid Integration & API platform.

API specification selection

How to choose an API platform

Forrester believes that when choosing a solution for managing an API, you must first consider whether the proposed solution is complex - that is, it contains a portal for API developers, a portal for managing APIs and an API gateway. It is emphasized that some solutions provide additional components, such as API design and development tools, integration platforms, real-time service management platforms, etc.

Forrester further emphasizes that an API management solution must be a true standalone product, detachable from any associated platform, integration product or business application.

Finally, the authors of the report believe that it is worth trusting those solution developers who have a number of full-fledged implementations. Software AG's API management solution clients include Michael Kors (manufacturer and supplier of high-end apparel and accessories), American Electric Power (one of North America’s largest energy companies), Outerwall (supplier of automated retail kiosks), Dick's Sporting Goods (sports retail chain) goods), EDF (the largest French state energy generating company and the world's largest operator of nuclear power plants), etc.

A few more factors should be added to this list of parameters that must be taken into account when choosing an API platform.

1. In different industries, the economy works differently and has different monetization schemes. Evaluate the development plan for the API platform you are considering. Does it reflect the realities of your business segment? It is important to determine the business task of implementation, create a list of business requirements for the solution, and from it derive a list of functional and architectural requirements. Perhaps this list will determine the choice of not only API solutions, but also additional components.

API Policy Management

2. It is very important that your API platform meets the expectations of your customers, and more precisely - their IT departments. The platform should be convenient for implementation and operation, it should support a technological deployment model that is comfortable for customers (cloud, physical or hybrid), its functionality should correspond to their current needs, and its development plan should correspond to their future needs for a year or two in advance.

3. The API portal should have extensive analytics capabilities, test interfaces for developers, and the ability to generate documentation based on API metadata. It should provide social cooperation of developers, generation of client SDKs and means of monetization.

Client SDK generation

4. The API gateway should provide security (authentication, authorization, security policy management, protection against attacks), mediation of services, routing and load balancing capabilities.

User Registration Confirmation

5. API lifecycle management tools should provide and evaluate the relationship between internal and external services, microservices and conventional services, technical and business services, as well as support for different types of “assets” in the catalog.

6. The issue of the total cost of ownership of decisions, which depends on the speed of product development and time to market, is very important - and this is influenced by the practices adopted by developers and the technologies they use.

7. The question to which developers of API platforms often do not have an answer - how will a contract be created between a customer and a partner and how billing will work - most likely the vendor has recommendations on the implementation of the technological possibility of creating a contract.

* * *

Well, in fact, the API is nothing new - they just used to be internal. Due to the current wave of interest in the API, it already seems to many that this abbreviation has always denoted how companies interact through the Internet, but in fact, APIs provide ways of interacting products, technological services and their consumers, which may belong to different market players, companies and customers and various business groups within the company.

Our integration product has existed and developed for many years, it is stable and mature, it is used by many customers. To evaluate it yourself, visit our free test software webpage where you can easily find the various components of the webMethods platform. Test webMethods API Cloud Free Trial right now and tell us about your experiences.

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