Application programming interfaces (APIs) are used to create connections between applications to allow them to communicate with one another. This connectivity is integral to how the digital world functions today. Effectively, APIs enable businesses to integrate systems to deliver better services and products through innovation.
That’s why, within IT, there is an entire field devoted to API management. It involves creating and publishing APIs, governing how they can be used, determining who will have access to specific APIs, and collecting analytics related to API performance.
Examples of API management tasks include:
- API gateways: They exist to monitor and enforce API security policies and requests. Setting up and maintaining an API gateway ensures only those with proper authorization gain access.
- API design: API management solutions provide users the ability to design and publish their APIs and record relevant, important information to those APIs.
- API analytics: Through rigorous API management, users can monitor general data related to API usage as well as a wide range of metrics that inform developers of the success of their APIs.
In short, API management is beneficial because it both protects and enhances the value generated by APIs – which are at the heart of modern business. But strong API management requires developers to have access to the proper API management tools.
How Do API Management Tools Work?
Countless vendors offer both commercial and open-source tools for API management. Most enterprises and small- to medium-sized businesses will focus on commercial API management tools.
Open source tools can also be useful. But they usually have a smaller scope and therefore won’t have a very robust feature set to accomplish much as a long-term solution. They can be a useful way to start creating APIs without having to invest in commercial products. But depending on your needs they may not allow you to achieve your goals when it comes to scaling the business.
The majority of API management tools tend to focus on making it easier for developers to produce new APIs. This means there’s a heavy reliance on visual development versus development that primarily features traditional hand-coding.
There are a couple main benefits to visual development. First, easier API development reduces the amount of time it takes to bring an API to market. As the pandemic has forced organizations to move faster and pivot quickly, that’s critical. Second, the more visual, user-friendly method of API development and management lowers the learning curve for would-be developers and publishers. That “low-code” philosophy is becoming a more popular, and cost-effective, trend in business.
Choosing an API Management Tool
There are several “must-have” features for any API management tool. Here are a few examples and their important characteristics:
- Easy integration with other software and systems: Any API management tool you use should be able to easily connect with common systems such as AWS, SAP, Salesforce, Oracle NetSuite, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Dynamics, as well as the growing number of best-of-breed applications. Better integration makes for smoother development, management, and ultimately, more engaging experiences for customers.
- Easy creation and publication: Businesses investing in API management tools should research how easy it is to create and publish an API. Ideally, the process should be intuitive, user-friendly and quick so that developers can rapidly create APIs, put them into use, and bring them to market fast.
- Strong API monitoring capabilities: API management tools should provide strong visibility and metrics for monitoring and tracking the success of those APIs.
- Effective API lifecycle control: Management doesn’t end when an API is published or put into use. Valuable management tools enable you to take APIs out of use at the end of their lifecycle, or implement new versions of APIs to ensure they remain up-to-date and effective.
- On-premises and cloud capabilities: Strong API management tools allow users to create and publish APIs in hybrid architectures – on-premises, in private or public clouds, multicloud environments, and so on.
Using Boomi’s API Management Tools
An integration platform as a service (iPaaS) with a robust API management component is key to designing and delivering API-led microservices, which play a crucial role in today’s data-driven enterprises.
Boomi API Management, part of the Boomi AtomSphere Platform, is a highly scalable, cloud-based platform that gives users a central source for API management and enrichment throughout the entire lifecycle of those APIs. It’s designed to be quick, user-friendly, and thorough, allowing you to design, secure, and scale APIs with ease.
And because Boomi API Management is part of an iPaaS that includes Boomi Integration and other key services available through the same unified, modern platform, you benefit from a robust infrastructure that can cover all your integration needs.