While the growth of APIs has been massive, many businesses have yet to utilize API management platforms to simplify the development and maintenance of their backend services. Using an API management platform can drive revenue by offering what developers want: simplicity (70%), performance (65%), consistency (58%), and documentation (50%), according to the DZone 2018 API Management Guide.
Apigee Edge is the recognized industry leading platform for managing today’s enterprise APIs, providing easy tools for developing API proxies, managing APIs, and providing developer portals. Without an API management tool, you'd need an in-house development team to handle the compatibility, monitoring, monetization, and security of your backend services from scratch. In this article, we'll look at the need for API proxies, how Apigee Edge enabled digital transformation, and how you can get started with the API management platform.
APIs Move Business Forward
When publishing your company data through an API, there are many areas to think about, such as security, monitoring, consistency, documentation, and monetization. All of these things can be extremely time consuming for development teams and are most likely not a core competency of your organization. An API management tool can ease the burden on your backend development team in providing these essential features.
The API proxy works by mapping simple, standardized HTTP endpoints to your backend services. Any changes to the backend API won't affect client apps that consume the public API, so it's easier to offer a consistent developer experience. When you're exposing your company's data to client apps, especially those developed by third-parties, security is crucial. With an Edge API proxy, there are fewer security risks because there are no API calls directly to your backend services. Instead, the API proxy receives requests and can ensure authentication and authorization before forwarding requests to your internal API. While the benefits may be clear, implementing an API proxy can be challenging without a platform like Apigee Edge. Let's take a look at how the API management tool can bring tremendous business value.
One of the most significant challenges of maintaining an API is keeping its interface consistent as underlying data and systems change. With an API proxy, changes to your backend services would likely break client apps unless substantial effort is put into maintaining standardized endpoints. Apigee Edge makes this effortless because changes to your service implementation would have little to no impact on the public facing API proxy that app developers consume. You’d only need to change the mappings between the API proxy and backend services. The API proxy can be set up and edited within a simple user interface, so you won't incur substantial development costs to maintain a consistent developer experience.
Edge has many out of the box monitoring and analytics features that can offer a better developer experience and inform business decisions. There are real-time analytics tools that track traffic trends and spikes, latency, response times, consumption, and many other metrics that help improve your API and drive strategic decisions. The monitoring tools help with API performance and uptime with in-depth data analysis and contextual alerting. Without proper monitoring tools, you run the risk of poor availability for client apps, but using Edge your operations team can quickly investigate and troubleshoot API issues and ensure client applications have a seamless experience. With all these built-in features and the fact that they can be customized, means it's often not worth the effort for many businesses to develop API analytics and monitoring tools in-house.
For many organizations, the motivation to expose company data through APIs is to generate revenue. With Edge, you can create API proxies for your backend resources and then group them into products for specific use-cases. Developers can then register their apps within the developer portal provided by Edge and receive an API key that's used to identify client apps and their usage amounts. From there, you can create transaction recording policies that determine what's used to calculate charges, revenue sharing, and refunds for API usage. You can then package your products and set rate plans for developers. These flexible, out of the box features make monetization simple for your API without needing to modify your backend services to track usage metrics.
If you're exposing your business's data, it's crucial to consider the security features necessary to protect against hackers, bots, and other malicious actors. Some examples of industry standards for APIs now include API keys or tokens for authentication and authorization, safeguards against JSON or XML vulnerabilities, and throttling to prevent distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. With Edge policies, you can easily add these security and rate-limiting features to your public facing APIs without needing any additional code. If you need too, the policies can be further customized using Python or many other programming languages to handle more specific business requirements. Your business can confidently expose APIs that are secure without the costs of developing standard security features in-house.
A crucial aspect of a great developer experience is documentation. With Apigee Edge, it's straightforward to publish a Developer Portal with Drupal or Apigee itself. Developer Portals are useful for developers to read about your API, explore documentation, and test the API with live requests and responses. The SmartDocs feature allows you to create the interactive documentation automatically, which will save you time and resources. An informative and interactive developer portal is crucial for smooth developer experiences and could be a significant driver of API revenue.
Achieve and Edge
Achieve offers several levels of support and implementation services around Apigee Edge. Overall, we offer strategic consulting and design services in which we map out your API strategy from concept to production. We continue to provide hands-on help to our clients organizing the configuration of their edge environments, as well as assisting with the development of API proxies, specific documentation, and automating the entire code-build-deploy process through a CI/CD pipeline. We have a parallel track of support in which we help with installation and configuration of an on-prem Apigee Edge full installation. This service is complete with recommendations towards network configurations and activities to help with hands-on configuration.
Using Edge and Achieve, you can quickly expose public or internal facing APIs in a way that's developer-friendly and simplifies ongoing maintenance for the future. When looking to transform your business with APIs, make sure you don't overlook this feature-rich API management platform.