Building Next-Generation API Platforms to Drive Digital Transformation

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As evidenced by the flood of investment in the market, application programming interfaces (APIs) have emerged as a key component of digital transformation efforts, providing organizations with new channels for reaching customers and creating new efficiencies.

As the connective tissue linking systems and data, APIs are growing in prevalence throughout the organization as they play a crucial role in making enterprise systems and services more responsive and adaptable, while enabling companies to monetize their data, cultivate partnerships and unlock innovation. With the drive to digitally transform, companies are rethinking their entire developer tooling and infrastructure stacks, for both internal and external use, with an aim to reduce time to market for initiatives.

Leverage APIs to Promote Internal innovation

Companies are moving toward an API-first approach to speed innovation and foster agility within. This approach is key to the shift from a monolithic single application to microservices — applications that are broken down by individual services, with teams aligned to those offerings. Microservices are exposed internally as APIs, creating thousands of internal APIs that need to be managed.

Use of an internal API hub, a centralized platform to find, connect to and collaborate on APIs, is necessary to create an API ecosystem within the company. It encourages both the teams providing APIs and the teams consuming APIs to collaborate and streamline the software development process and deliver products and services to customers more rapidly. A centralized hub helps developers avoid code duplication and API replication while improving productivity for consumers with better API discoverability and the ability to use/reuse APIs.

Use APIs to Create External Opportunities

Companies are looking to foster collaboration with external partners and customers and to create additional business offerings and drive participation in new and existing markets, including healthcare, telecom, finance, technology, and retail.

In financial services, for example, tasks that were completed manually via in-person interaction are now being completed digitally as customers bank on the go or from their homes. As a result, the majority of banking happens outside the branch. This means that every bank is now also a software company, developing applications for multiple channels.

Embrace the right API infrastructure to open up your APIs to third parties, giving access to internal data/functionality to your partners through the API, while also providing data security. This will enable your organization to safely develop innovative and integrated services to reach new customers and generate revenue.

Address Complexity and Scalability with a Modern Enterprise API Environment

A top-to-bottom digital transformation requires a new way of building and thinking about your API stack. Driven by the explosion of APIs; federation of API programs; and the advent of cloud computing, microservices, and API innovation, a new set of requirements have emerged necessitating a new type of infrastructure. Traditional API gateways and home-grown API portals are not sufficient for dealing with the complexity of the changing digital environment.

Based on the requirements of modern API environments, there are five key principles for building next-generation API platforms.

  • Many-to-many: Enable a “many-to-many” model of multiple teams creating and using APIs within and outside of the organization
  • Innovation at Scale: Efficiently publish, share, and discover APIs even when there are hundreds to thousands of APIs in use across the organization, spanning a variety of API types
  • Cloud agnostic: Support any deployment pattern including multi-cloud and hybrid
  • Granular governance: Ensure the fine-grained access controls necessary to enforce governance across diverse teams and use cases
  • Multiple API gateways: Integrate to any existing or future API environment rather than pushing organizations toward vendor lock-in and unwelcome standardization

Adopt a Centralized, Modern API Environment

What are the challenges to taking full advantage of a multi-gateway, multi-technology, cloud agnostic infrastructure?

The majority of large enterprises have multiple teams creating and sharing APIs within software silos, facilitating the use of multiple API gateways across the enterprise. Many API gateways also include developer portals to more broadly expose APIs. Standardizing on a single gateway is expensive and not realistic for most organizations, as they may have a mix of on-premises and cloud gateways, serving different purposes and different teams This problem is not easily solved as most gateways do not talk to each other and none of them are designed to address a hybrid cloud environment.

Additionally, developer portals associated with API gateway vendors only provide visibility and governance for APIs managed by the vendor’s own API gateway or cloud. And with enterprises increasingly investing in APIs as an essential element for making their systems and services more responsive and adaptable, finding and connecting to the right one can be difficult and time-consuming, as each API has its own structure, data format and networking protocols.

The modern API environment requires a centralized platform n that provides a gateway-agnostic integration layer that sits atop — and aggregates — the multiple gateways and APIs across your various environments and unifies visibility and governance across all the APIs in your organization, regardless of which clouds or API gateways are in use. That allows your developers and consumers to easily find, connect to and share their APIs, reducing development time and improving productivity.

Business leaders must implement an infrastructure that allows your organization to take full advantage of the benefits of an API economy, including building new business models, executing digital initiatives and forging revenue-generating partnerships.

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