What is an API Platform?

An API platform is a digital backbone that offers a unified set of capabilities for developing and managing APIs to support a company’s API strategy. An API platform allows developers to manage the full API lifecycle across the entire API landscape securely.  

What is an API?

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are a collection of protocols and subroutines that enable applications to talk to each other and exchange information. Many APIs are made up of parts that act as functions or procedures. Developers can use APIs to make their application call on other products and systems without requiring the developer to know how those products and systems are implemented. APIs are everywhere and enable web services to be shared around the world. As a result, API security is a top priority for almost every organization.

APIs have become the standard way of connecting applications, data and devices, providing services directly to partners and creating new models for doing business. According to a recent Nordic APIs statistics roundup, over 90% of developers are using APIs—and these developers spend nearly 30% of their time coding them.

As APIs have become crucial for companies, studies indicate that they are making up a growing portion of IT professionals’ workloads. Adoption of an effective API management solution can help streamline developers’ work and accelerate delivery of effective solutions built with APIs. 

What is API management?

API management is the way in which APIs are used in an organization—which can include both how the APIs that a company publishes are used by customers and partners, or the way they are managed within the company.

API management can be complicated, but it’s a lot simpler when you are using an effective API management platform.

What is an API management platform?

An API management platform helps simplify the management of APIs by providing a single place to manage APIs and related microservices as applications. An API management platform enables governance, monitoring, security and support for APIs.

However, the definition of an “effective” API management platform is transforming as more and more specialized API tools, aimed to address specific needs throughout stages of the API lifecycle, are introduced.

While an API management platform enables the visibility and management of these tools, a dynamic API management platform enables the integration of these tools—connecting data, apps, devices and all the “things” you need to accelerate innovation with APIs and microservices. Learn more about how new API tools are transforming API management.

What is an API integration platform?

API integration platforms allow APIs to communicate seamlessly by sharing information through the platform, giving APIs the ability to execute tasks more quickly and efficiently.

While an API management platform enables governance, monitoring, security and support for the APIs, an integration platform is a solution capable of integrating the applications to expose reference data and services.

Integrating APIs allows organizations to harness existing applications, data and services and transform them into a foundation for new capabilities.  

API management platform capabilities

An effective API management platform provides users with far more capabilities than merely managing APIs. It allows developers to build new features, engage with communities, create dynamic ecosystems and design new experiences to delight customers—all while effectively controlling API security.   

Designing and creating APIs

An API platform allows you to instantly create APIs from existing services with a single API management tool. 

Managing the full lifecycle of APIs

Take control of every stage—from designing, developing, testing, releasing and monitoring APIs.

Operating with a common managed catalog of services

Empower operations under a defined, unified layer of common framework and standards.

Security and policy enforcement

Utilize policy enforcement throughout the API lifecycle for security, transformation, validation, error processing and monitoring.

Creating API products

Consolidate API resources to enable your developers.

Monetizing your APIs

Monetize you’re APIs with transparency—monitor who's using your APIs and microservices and measure what's being consumed to impact revenue.

Securely exposing APIs

Securely provide access to your enterprise data and services to the outside world.

Analyzing APIs

Use analytics and reporting to detect threats, track API usage, monitor interactions and more.

Managing related microservices in a service mesh

Deploy microservices and manage them with agility—without the risk of chaos that can accompany service mesh architectures.

Service creation

Create and deploy API services on a platform that is secure and scalable.

Prebuilt application connectors for services

With prebuilt connectors, you can count on the broadest connectivity capabilities—without coding.

Event-driven APIs

Enable agility and scalability with real-time interactions.

Creating, building and supporting a developer ecosystem

Use a developer portal to create a storefront for your APIs, grow your developer ecosystem and build a community around your APIs.

Custom approval workflows

Customize workflows, for example, to approve what users and groups of users have access to.

Version control

Quickly evolve your APIs to improve functionality without the complexity.

Overall API landscape view

A single, overall API landscape view is necessary in order to effectively control and manage all your APIs, API gateways, data sources and more.    

How does an API management platform fit into microservices architectures?

Microservices architecture began trending in recent years as a modern way to redesign legacy monolithic applications. This new style gave developers independence, agility, and the flexibility to work on pieces of their applications in isolation. Service meshes were also created to manage the interactions between microservices and their security. This is quite similar to what APIs and gateways do for applications, and that’s why the natural progression was to integrate service meshes with API management.

A modern API management platform will allow its users to manage their microservices the same way that they manage their APIs: providing context-based routing, traffic throttling, data transformation and more for microservices, and even enabling the microservices to be used as APIs. 

API platform benefits

Secures APIs

Because APIs are everywhere, API security is now a top priority for almost every organization. A few years ago, Gartner had predicted that by 2022 API abuses will move from infrequent to the most-frequent attack vector—making the need for security policies enforced by API gateways and other tools a necessity.

API platforms provide an API gateway, an API management tool for securely managing and protecting APIs, data and microservices with a variety of capabilities, such as authentication and access control and can set thresholds and limits to manage APIs and control usage.  

Empowers developers

Without an API platform, developers would be forced to manually perform the maintenance of all their APIs, ensuring each one is being monitored for progress, performance and security. By using an API platform, developers are empowered with the tools they need, boosting efficiency that benefits the entire organization. Developers can work with confidence knowing that APIs are being managed securely and effectively.

Drives growth and innovation

API platforms don’t just support innovative initiatives in a modern digital transformation strategy, they’re essential in digital transformation. By accelerating and securing the entire API lifecycle, an API platform is a critical resource for organizations seeking to drive differentiation, grow their business and gain an advantage over their competitors—from new mobile applications and omnichannel initiatives, to improved e-commerce and business processes.  

What is an API gateway?

An API gateway is an API management tool that enables you to securely expose your APIs to third-party developers, partners and other consumers for web, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. An API gateway takes an application user’s request, gathers the appropriate data, and returns a response. Most commonly, it handles tasks such as user authentication, security for the application, rate limiting and analytics.

An API gateway can create APIs, define Service Level Agreement (SLA) policies and publish your APIs to an API developer portal.   

What is a developer portal?

A developer portal is an essential tool for companies seeking to make the most of APIs. An API developer portal is a place where developers can go to access a company’s APIs—similar to how the App Store was created as a place where iPhone users could download and use apps. It enables companies to easily share information and data across real-time, distributed cloud and mobile applications. By exposing APIs to a broader community of developers, an API portal can unlock access to new customers, create new sources of revenue and unlock the business value of existing corporate assets. 

API platform image
API Developer portal life cycle

How can you customize your Developer Portal?

Developer portals serve as storefronts of organizations to attract developers to their API programs and grow the applications of their data. Therefore, it is natural to have a unique storefront to reflect each organizations branding.

This may be colors, images, logos, fonts, or navigation.  For example, the webMethods Developer Portal has rich customization features to easily design a custom storefront. Moreover, thanks to all of its feature functionality being available as APIs, organizations can use it as the undercover engine to create a completely custom frontend. 

API platform example: webMethods

The webMethods API management platform includes everything a business needs to manage APIs and microservices so they can go to market faster. Fused with application and network integration, the webMethods API platform provides the visibility and control needed to take on innovative cloud initiatives with confidence. 

This all-in-one API management service offers a developer portal for developer collaboration and an API gateway to protect businesses from malicious activity. The webMethods API platform also makes it easy for companies to attract new customers and add new revenue streams with its market-leading API productization and monetization features. Developers will appreciate the convenience of a single place to discover, test and sign up for APIs, while building an API ecosystem to proactively promote, market and launch APIs that reach the right developers and partners to grow the business.  

Software AG Integration, API and Microservices marchitecture diagram
Software AG Integration, API and Microservices marchitecture diagram

API platform business use case: webMethods

A connected customer experience plays a vital role in delivering a seamless digital experience—but the best reason to deliver a connected experience to your customers is that customers who use more than one channel are more valuable. According to an Adyen Unified Commerce Index Report, omnichannel shoppers spend 15% more per purchase than those who shop on just one channel.

However, it remains a challenge for businesses to create these connections that enable a multichannel sales strategy. Consumers research and check inventory online before purchasing in a store, and they use stores to return online purchases. So, if your backend systems aren’t communicating, your customers will feel disconnected.

This is where an effective integration and API management solution comes into play.

Success story: Kiabi

Businesses that want to create connected customer experiences need to provide capabilities like personalization and real-time pricing. Customers can’t buy what they can’t find, and today’s consumers have little tolerance for hunting down information on products and pricing.

French retailer Kiabi struggled to meet the needs of consumers because its legacy systems left its channels and customers disconnected. The company needed to integrate its devices, applications, networks, content, channels and interactions, as well as restructure its processes to connect its customers with its brand. To do this, Kiabi used Software AG webMethods to become more service oriented and event driven.

By using Software AG webMethods integration and API management, Kiabi connects employees and customers with information like in-store inventory through mobile devices. Furthermore, it also connects partners like suppliers with the data they need to run an efficient supply chain. Setting up a new B2B relationship once took Kiabi as long as four months, but now it takes just days. 

Software AG's API platform solution

With the webMethods API management platform, you have a single place to manage APIs and related microservices as applications, so you can understand what your customers are doing, control your apps with policies and deliver app changes faster.

Our webMethods API management platform includes everything you need to manage APIs and microservices so you can go to market faster. Fused with application and network integration, our API platform gives you the visibility and control you need to take on innovative cloud initiatives with confidence.

Software AG’s webMethods API Management platform enables you to:
  • Design and compose APIs
  • Securely expose your APIs and prevent attacks
  • Reduce or eliminate the need for unnecessary holes in your firewall
  • Monetize your APIs
  • Grow your audience of developers to increase adoption and add new revenue
  • Track and measure API usage with analytics and reporting
  • Protect consumers from underlying changes through API virtualization features   

How does webMethods API management integrate with CI/CD and DevOps toolchains?

One of the guiding principles of webMethods API management platform is to have “Everything as an API.” This means that before we release a functionality, we make sure that it is available as a REST API. Thanks to this principle, organizations can easily integrate webMethods API Management to their DevOps CI/CD tool chains to seamlessly automate their processes.

Interested in learning more?

Regardless of your API needs, there is one platform that is here to help. Learn why Software AG’s webMethods is rated the #1 platform for API management. 

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