What is an API Management Platform?

This content was last reviewed on: 
November 30, 2022

A Brief Look at API Management

We’d never get much done in this day and age without APIs. With so many dependencies, a lot is riding on how well APIs are managed and communicate with each other. How will you manage and monitor everything? That’s where API management platforms come into the picture.

Before we start, here are some of the main benefits of a good API management platform.

Save time and money

  • Reduces costs associated with managing an API. 
  • It gives developers the power to automate the process of creating, acquiring, deploying, and governing APIs.

Increase productivity

  • Letting you quickly and easily create and deploy APIs while ensuring that all business requirements are met.

Increase security on the backend 

  • Enables you to manage your APIs securely, ensuring they are used safely and responsibly.
  • It also provides increased security through better governance.

Now, let’s dive deeper into APIs and API management.

Which is the best API management vendor for your use case? Get an analysis based on API call volume, deployment modes, and feature set.
Get My Free APIM Evaluation
It takes 5 minutes.

What are APIs?

We’ll start with a quick refresher on application programming interfaces (or APIs)—what they are and what function they perform. 

As you may know, APIs let several applications communicate with each other with a set of definitions, rules, and protocols.

Using APIs helps developers decrease the amount of new code needed for products and ensures more uniformity or consistency. APIs can also provide control measures for hardware/software resources.

What is API Management?

Developers use API Management (APIM) to monitor and control all API operations actively using the API (again, these are the connections between applications and back-end systems). API management tools help developers create, manage, and publish APIs in a unified platform.

Additionally, they provide essential features such as API documentation, API security, and API analytics.

The API management process generally consists of the following: 

  • Authentication 
  • Data Export
  • Test and Build
  • Deployment
  • Versioning and Monitoring

The Benefits of API Management to Developers

What are the benefits to developers using robust API  platforms? 

Less development time required, more efficient

First, there’s the reduction of development time and maintenance costs. With APIM, developers can develop their applications faster and with less effort, as they don’t need to learn how to work with back-end systems. APIM also helps keep back-end systems up to date, as developers can automatically send updates. Also, it helps coordinate communication between all systems, including legacy, on-premises, and cloud-based applications. 

Improved customer experience

Developers using APIM have access to vital customer data and metrics. Increased developer access to necessary data from other applications and the ability to track their application performance helps developers predict, identify and diagnose potential problems, adding more efficiency. By managing and monitoring your APIs, you can ensure that your customers have a good experience accessing your services through third-party applications. This means fewer complaints and higher customer loyalty for your business.

Improved API security

Allows developers to set up systems ensuring only authorized users can access APIs. This is achieved by defining levels of access, setting up different access controls for each API, and through other security measures. By keeping track of all the requests made to your APIs, you can ensure they’re being used appropriately and that no unauthorized access is taking place, preventing the exposure of sensitive data or systems to outside attacks. 

Additionally, by issuing clear API policies, you can help protect your company’s data from malicious access by unauthorized individuals. This way, APIM protects both the developers using the API and the organization itself from potential damages caused by unauthorized access.

Separation of responsibilities

API Management also helps with the separation of responsibilities. Separating API management from development helps ensure that different teams have clear accountability for their API parts. This helps avoid potential conflicts or miscommunications between groups involved in the development process.

Better governance

Having APIM in place will help to improve the overall governance of your APIs, which will make them more dependable and manageable.

Important Features of APIM

Now that we’ve looked at some benefits of its use to developers let’s take a look at some of the best features found in API management platforms. Your basic bundle of API management platforms will, of course, include routing and proxying, analytics, policy enablement, data transformation, and other features that we love. 

However, when selecting an APIM, developers will find some of the most notable features to consider looking for include:

  • Availability of an API gateway which helps secure the APIs as well as works for policy management
  • Availability of a developer portal to build, discover, and test APIs
  • Availability of a robust analytics engine to analyze the API performance and behavior

Some Open Source/Free APIM Tools

There are many different types of API management tools, but all share some common features developers crave. Here are a few open-source or free APIM tools with the core features that successful development teams require.

Kong

Kong provides a simple web interface making it easy to manage APIs. It has a built-in plug-in system that allows you to add various features to your Kong instance. Kong also supports LDAP and Active Directory integration, making managing users and permissions easy. Kong is a solid choice for small teams due to its ease of use and wide range of features. It also has good documentation that can help you get started using Kong.

Tyk

Tyk provides a web-based user interface that makes it easy to manage your APIs. You can easily create and manage API keys, track usage, and set rate limits. Tyk has a robust security system that helps to protect your APIs from attack. It supports both basic authentication and 2.0 authentication. Tyk is easy to install and configure. It can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.

Apiary

It's open source, so it's accessible to developers. It has a simple interface that makes it easy to use. And it has many powerful features that are perfect for small teams, such as team collaboration, version control, and security.

3 Ways That API Management is Changing

  1. API management is changing rapidly as the tech industry moves towards cloud-based solutions and businesses strive to become more agile.
  2. There are many new APIM providers currently offering cloud-based solutions. Many of these newer providers are more cost-effective and may also offer more flexibility than on-premise solutions. Developers also should consider that cloud-based APIM solutions can be deployed quickly and easily, without the need for complex infrastructure.
  3. Businesses are also increasingly looking for APIM solutions that offer more than basic API management features. They want solutions that can help them to become more agile and to manage their digital transformation initiatives better. As a result, many APIM providers are now offering features such as application integration, identity management, and analytics.

Some Limitations of APIM Software

Though APIM has made it much easier for developers to meet their crazy schedules, some limitations should be considered when using APIM software.

Limited customization options for interface

APIM tools do not allow for full customization of the user interface.

Limited automation for some tasks/processes

In addition, APIM does not allow for the automation of tasks or processes related to API management. This can lead to additional manual work and can be time-consuming.

Potential issues monitoring API usage 

Another limitation of APIM is its lack of support for monitoring and managing API usage. This means that the software cannot automatically detect issues with an API and take the necessary steps to address them. It also means that organizations will have to manually review data gathered from an API to determine its use.

APIM is still a vital tool for developers

Despite these limitations, APIM remains a valuable tool for managing APIs and interacting with developers. It provides a standard interface that can be customized to meet specific needs, supports monitoring and managing an API, and automates tasks and processes related to API management.

Conclusion

Choosing the right API management platform can be complicated, even for seasoned software architects. Find this content helpful, or have more questions? You should try our free questionnaire to pick the right tool.

Which is the best API management vendor for your use case? Get an analysis based on API call volume, deployment modes, and feature set.
Get My Free APIM Evaluation
It takes 5 minutes.