June 17, 2021
Full Lifecycle API Management
What Is Full Lifecycle API Management?
Full lifecycle API management covers the life of an API, from beginning to end. It begins by actively managing the planning stage and doesn’t stop until you retire the API. Managing the lifecycle enables you to clarify your API strategy and build more robust API ecosystems.
The lifecycle runs from API creation to managing and consuming APIs. Once you have a solid strategy, you build and then test your API, which is then published for use by internal and external developers.
After publishing a public API, promote it in API marketplaces so it gets used. And, as authorized developers are on-boarded, be sure to provide documentation to the API to help them understand the key capabilities and dependencies. Endpoint documentation can be done through Swagger.
As part of the lifecycle process, your developers will also need to maintain the APIs and keep current with any necessary code updates and patches, while also looking for any indicators of compromise. Once you go live into production, analyze your APIs to see how well they perform and what their adoption rates are.
The lifecycle then ends at retirement, the final stage. This can happen for many reasons. The product manager may discontinue the product, or the technology supporting the API may evolve. Sometimes, new security threats make it unwise to keep using an API.
Devising a Management Strategy for Your API
As you begin to define your API strategy, look at it from the perspective of your business. Define the vision and priorities for what your company wants to accomplish by publishing the API. Also, project the predicted business outcomes and assess whether the payoff justifies the expense.
A Business Leader’s Guide to APIs
One of the key measures to consider in the strategy is ease-of-use. What functionality do you need to build to make sure developers—whether internal or external—can easily discover and adopt the API?
To assist developers, provide sample code and documentation, and determine the metric you will use to make sure your efforts are working. These can include developer satisfaction ratings and transaction volumes. It’s also essential to plan for support resources to help any developers that report problems.
The resources you require for your API will differ depending on whether you create a private API or a public API. Each has its nuances, so someone working with internal APIs may need training on external APIs when it comes to development, product management, analytics, and operations.
Also, consider the IT infrastructure that will support the development, testing, publishing, and management of the API. Sufficient computing resources will reduce cycle times and ensure API performance and scalability.
And don’t forget security; better yet, consider security early in your strategic planning. If your API isn’t secure, you may be placing your digital assets at risk, and developers may hesitate to use it. Ensure that only authorized users, apps, and devices have access.
To close out your strategy, plan for the future. If the use of your APIs proliferates, you will need more robust management capabilities and compute resources to enable the API to truly flourish. The resources you need at the start will likely not be sufficient if your API succeeds—and hopefully, that’s the case!
Building an API Management Infrastructure
As part of your API strategy, consider the key components you’ll need to deploy, as well as the different roles to fulfill. Other key factors include data governance and the deployment of your security model.
Key Components include a gateway for hosting API proxies and for securing and managing traffic among clients, back-end servers, the API, and developers. You will also need a portal to assist developers in finding, building, and testing APIs. Another critical component is the management user-interface to support the development of APIs, proxies, and API environments.
Roles to define include the developers who write the code for the API and the base application. Other key team members in an API project include the product manager, who will likely be someone representing the business unit that requested the API. This person usually has overall accountability for the API’s performance and is responsible for making sure it meets the desired specifications. Also, consider assigning resources to oversee the logical and physical interface model as well as metadata and reference data. A governance resource is needed to enforce standards and policies governing the API ecosystem. At the same time, a management admin attends to the configuration and deployment of shared API resources, the creation of user roles, and shared deployment tools. You will also need an admin to manage user experiences and content within the developer portal.
Data Governance takes into consideration data classification and caching. Classify data exposed by the API according to standard Information Classification and Protection guidelines. Also, formulate caching policies for every business unit exposed to the API, and set quotas and rate limits to control the number of connections that apps can make via the API.
The Security Model should be deployed at multiple layers. This includes implementing user authentication and authorization, threat protections at the edge, registration management, traffic encryption, key management, and SSL on all API proxies.
Selecting an API Management Tool
When selecting a tool to assist with API lifecycle management, determine if the potential candidates you are considering support your method for integrating APIs into your development workflows. The tools on the market offer varying degrees of support for developers, integration, and deployment. Some provide integrations with broader development tools within their respective portfolios.
If your API is expected to help generate revenue, also check for the ability to help monetize APIs and the availability of analytics to help you measure the performance of your API. To get you started in your search, here are some of the top API management tools to consider:
- IBM API Connect
- Microsoft Azure API Management
- Google Apigee Edge
- WSO2 API Manager
- TIBCO Cloud Mashery
- Mulesoft Anypoint Platform
- Red Hat 3scale API Management
- AWS API Gateway
All of these tools can help you with all phases of API development—from planning and design to testing, security, versioning, deployment, publishing, consumption, and ongoing operations.
APIs: Key Players in Your Day-to-Day Operations
APIs can play a significant role in helping your company generate revenue through application services and improving the efficiencies of your internal workflows. APIs can also facilitate collaboration with your customers, vendors, and partners, so more business gets done on a day-to-day basis.
The key is to have a plan in the way you develop, provision, and manage your APIs, and that’s where full lifecycle API management pays off. With a solid strategy supported by the right resources and the right tools, you can ensure your APIs deliver the integration services your business requires.