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Leveraging APIs to venture into new business models is standard practice in today’s digital economy. APIs allow users to access enterprise assets in a consumable way and facilitate user connectivity on the fly. They fuel business innovation and agility. Given that, there’s no getting away from the fact that APIs are the lifeblood of a digital enterprise. However, the hyper-surge in API adoption and the unfettered rise of API gateways have resulted in highly discrete IT landscapes.
Multiplicity of API Gateways – A Mounting Problem
As enterprises adopt digital everywhere, it is common for them to acquire a multitude of software products from multiple vendors for the same application. Each vendor has its own Enterprise Licensing Agreements (ELAs) to which enterprises must subscribe in order to use their plethora of tools and solutions for cost optimization. While those who are willing to expand their application landscapes horizontally across different specializations consider this a good strategy, there are some who say that this approach will lead to IT redundancy and prefer growing vertically with only a handful of alliances. Enterprises who are unwilling to expand their application landscape run the risk of limiting their choices and tying their business performance to a few vendors’ products that might pale into insignificance when compared to others.
The case with an API management product suite is no different. Due to the evolution of APIs, the subsequent adaptation of API Management Platforms and the compelling enterprise cloud initiatives have resulted in a multitude of hybrid API environments that undercut business efficiency. Other factors responsible for the rampant build-up are mergers and acquisitions of companies that bring a distinct variety of API footprints, instances from Cloud APIs, distributed micro gateways, lack of API developer support models, hybrid cloud deployment and containerization, business silos, etc.
While this footprint of multiple API Management product instances allows enterprises to have their finger on the pulse, it inadvertently creates numerous challenges in the overall API and Cloud Strategy.
Top 3 Challenges of Medium and Large Scale Enterprises with Siloed API Implementations
APIs help enterprises bridge the connectivity gap between IT processes, data, systems, and applications. They enable software-to-software interactions around data and inspire an omnichannel user experience. However, when API landscapes are siloed, enterprises experience several technical and functional shortcomings, such as:
Hindered interoperability between multi-vendor API Gateway instances and API Portal components
- Inability to integrate heterogeneous API Gateway products with API Portal instances. For instance, inability to publish APIs from one vendor API Gateway to another vendor’s API Portal component and vice versa.
- Inability to aggregate data and analytics generated on each API Gateway instance.
- Lack of SSO (Single Sign-on) capabilities/managing individual SSO capabilities with third-party identification platforms. Enterprises must pay more for SSO capabilities from each API Platform.
- Security limitations and silos.
Poor API Consumer Experience
- Lack of a one-stop API shop for organizations. They do not have a common API developer portal to serve as a single stop point for all APIs across the enterprise, which limits their ability to establish communities and social interactions.
- Increased onboarding provisioning times for third-party developers.
- API promotion challenges.
- Limited focus and visibility of consumer behaviors and business areas.
Hindrance for API Governance and Maintenance Overhead
- Lack of easy and flexible onboarding and integration with third-party vendors or partners to extend customer reach and value.
- Increased cost of maintenance overhead from managing multiple and redundant integrations between API Platforms and invoicing/payment systems.
- Increased administration overhead.
- Lack of centralized API Governance for better visibility and ease of Enterprise Architecture landscape.
What is Unified/Federated API Management?
The primary purpose of establishing a sound enterprise API strategy is to drive organizational agility, encourage third-party partner innovations, and improve customer experience. To explore and realize the umpteen potential of API ecosystems, one must break down the silos and enable unprecedented cross-pollination between data sets to create new business models. Unification of multiple API gateways is crucial for:
- Deprecating/decommissioning/decoupling of standalone API products.
- Building a centralized, robust enterprise API management platform with well-defined taxonomies and appropriate user roles and permissions
- Enabling cross-departmental API monetization and reducing total cost of ownership
Key Steps for Multiple API Management Platform Integration
- Identify the business needs for a centralized/unified API management platform
- Determine the enterprise-wide API assets and create a strategy to align them with the company’s growth plan
- Select an Enterprise Product Manager that has the ability to work seamlessly with the individual product owners of the siloed business units
- Achieve more collaboration at the product level across the company
- Develop workarounds, plugins/APIs to interconnect the API Gateways, and portals of different product vendors
Unified API Management: The New Frontier in Powering the Digital Economy
Unified API Management is charting a new course in enabling enterprises to best-leverage their existing investments while navigating the challenges of the technical debt created by siloed applications. To ensure optimal agility, innovation, and user experience, enterprises must develop a clear understanding of unified/federated API management and make its effective implementation an integral part of any organizational cloud strategy.