What Is API Management and Why Is It Important?

April 22, 2020 Charles Waltner

In the vast and interlinked digital ecosystem, APIs play an essential role as gatekeepers, connectors, and simplifiers. As web users, they invisibly surround us, providing efficiencies and automations that many don’t even notice. For businesses, APIs cannot escape notice; they are critical to the functions of our programs, applications, data, and customer interactions.

APIs are powerful, and play a key role in a holistic integration approach. That’s why API management is such a vital topic in the business sphere.

API Management Defined

API stands for Application Programming Interface. Functionally, an API enables disparate applications or programs to communicate with one another. By opening up accessibility, reducing programming complexity, performing repetitive tasks autonomously, and governing security, APIs can make applications and data more useful both internally and externally. 

API management refers to the process of administering these mechanisms to ensure they are properly developed, deployed, stored, updated, and controlled. API management also pertains to the collection and analysis of usage statistics for the purpose of reporting upon, and improving, performance.

Why Is API Management Important?

Here are a few key reasons that modern organizations are making API management a part of their integration strategy.

Customer experience

By driving rapid adoption of new applications and seamless experiences across a variety of channels, APIs help companies keep pace with the wants and needs of their customers. By creating more connectivity, organizations in many different industries — from healthcare to finance to retail and beyond — are delivering new levels of responsiveness and convenience. 

A couple of common scenarios where APIs impact the customer experience include personalization and value-added services — services that you otherwise would have not been able to offer or would have had to build yourself.

Scalability

With the exploding volume of apps and data in play for almost every company today, API management is instrumental to scaling upward while maintaining a culture of innovation. With so much to organize, centralize, and connect, the need to create and publish new APIs is often relentless. Beyond the customer-facing implications, there are also business partners and of course the many internal folks within your company who need to interact with data and apps on a regular basis.

By increasing the ease of access and lowering technical burden throughout the API lifecycle, API management is a fixture for scalability.

Security

Of course, when APIs need to be accessible to so many different parties — from internal developers to partner organizations to customers themselves — it goes without saying that security is a major focus. Every measure must be taken to protect sensitive data, ensuring permissions are properly assigned and managed. Without an API management solution providing visibility and consistency, security oversight becomes extraordinarily challenging at the enterprise level.

Want to learn more about Boomi API Management? Watch our on-demand webinar, Enhancing Scalability, Self Service and Security.

API Management Features and Functions

These are some of the common attributes and capabilities of API management solutions.

Mediation: Since one size does not fit all, mediation involves the transformation of legacy and third-party apps into more developer-friendly formats. This integration helps the puzzle pieces fit together neatly.

Versioning: It is not uncommon for multiple versions of an API to be in play for different user sets. API lifecycle governance makes it easy to track and manage different versions.

API Catalog: Providing a central place to manage APIs that have been created and published, the API catalog gives your organization central visibility, maximizing internal engagement and helping to prevent redundancy or gaps. 

Authentication and API Security: Comprehensive security, threat protection, encryptions, and third-party authentication serve to reduce risks.

Benefits of an API Management Solution

There are many different solutions out there supporting API management, which is a central component of Boomi’s integration platform. The primary strength of these tools is in their ability to greatly expedite application development across a hybrid environment in a way that is flexible and dynamic. Here are some advantages that emerge:

  • Increased Speed and Agility. The ability for an API producer to rapidly create and publish any endpoint in real time helps your business remain nimble and adaptive, with increased developer productivity and faster time to market.
  • Seamless Omnichannel Experiences. Creating composite applications through this architecture, with aggregated data from multiple apps and sources, allows your business to deliver unified experiences across mobile, social, and IoT. As customer expectations rise, this becomes a pressing need. 
  • Data-Driven Decision Making. By offering deeper insight into usage patterns, devices, geographies, and more, an API management solution assists your overall strategy by driving more informed decision-making. 
  • Unified Interface. You can centrally test and deploy APIs while maintaining security through a gateway to enforce contracts and policies. Meanwhile, centralized lifecycle management helps your organization understand and analyze the entire suite of APIs and web services to maximize performance.
  • Improved Control. Governing data access can be very difficult when information and applications are distributed and disconnected. API management makes it easier to restrict data access by role(s) on premises or in the cloud. 

Bring It All Together with API Management

Like most elements of integration, API management is about unity and cohesion. The purpose of these systems is to get your data and applications speaking the same language, whether they’re newly developed or legacy carryovers. Being able to manage and control the entire API ecosystem through a single source of truth has become critical for the modern enterprise — which is where Boomi stands out with its unified integration platform

Part of the Boomi Platform, Boomi API Management helps organizations achieve faster time-to-value and enhances operational efficiency. Powered by unparalleled technology and backed by a reputable track record, Boomi gives its customers tremendous networking confidence.

Data integration is a key focus for organizations today, and API management is the next step in engaging data and unleashing its full potential to positively impact business results. That's why Boomi is empowering customers for the API economy, today and every day. 

Want to learn more about Boomi API Management? Watch our on-demand webinar, Enhancing Scalability, Self Service and Security or contact our team of Boomi experts today. 

About the Author

Charles Waltner is the head of content marketing for Boomi.

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