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What is universal API management?

From improving business agility to enhancing connectivity, APIs are instrumental in many of the applications, integrations, and processes we rely on. Universal API management improves an organizations’ ability to efficiently work with any API, built and deployed anywhere.

This article explores the need for universal API management capabilities in the enterprise and the benefits of a universal API management platform.


The composability imperative

Snapshots comparing how enterprises operate today and pre-pandemic would show two nearly unrecognizable images. Seemingly overnight, businesses shifted to fully remote workplaces, digital customer experiences, and implemented extra safety precautions — in both a physical and digital sense.

Digital processes aren’t new, but the pandemic forced many businesses to quickly digitize their operations to ensure business continuity and meet the new expectations of their customers. As a result, composability has become a necessity for enterprises to increase business agility and accelerate delivery while maintaining governance.

The evolving role of the composable enterprise

APIs are the building blocks that enable an organization’s digital ecosystem. The average enterprise uses +500 APIs and many vendors that traditionally only offered integration or cloud services have added full lifecycle API management to their product portfolios — making API management a de facto standard.

Today, we’re seeing a new shift in the API landscape. To meet rising customer demands, organizations require increased openness, flexibility, and scalability in their tech stack beyond what traditional full lifecycle API management provides.

Trends in API management capabilities and enterprise needs

Businesses today are evolving, as is their use of APIs. Below are four trends that are shifting how organizations use their APIs.

#1 Sprawl of APIs across the enterprise

With the transition to cloud technologies and the adoption of microservices, enterprises saw an exponential increase in the adoption of APIs across heterogeneous environments, diverse platforms, and disparate architectures.

With this API sprawl, enterprises now face three major challenges:

  1. API discovery has become challenging with different platforms or tools being adopted by siloed teams and environments.
  2. With APIs operating across different environments and platforms, each one is architected with disparate standards for quality — creating a nightmare for IT organizations to manage different versions of these APIs.
  3. Seventy-five percent of security attacks are directed towards API endpoints. In this scenario, shadow APIs can become a security threat and require a lengthy forensic response to identify the impact and mitigate the threat.

#2 Evolving function of APIs

For almost 20 years, REST APIs, have been the standard on the web. Although the paradigm is shifting slowly, the standards are expanding beyond REST.

Developers are adopting different types of APIs for specific use cases. According to a recent study, 13% of developers are using AsyncAPIs to build real-time applications with event-driven capabilities, while 24% are using GraphQL to optimize the way data is served to applications.

#3 Expanding API ecosystems

Developers have generally been the biggest users and adopters of APIs, but now their use is spreading more widely across the enterprise. APIs now drive value by generating new partnerships, creating new business models and product opportunities, and enabling integration without the bottleneck of IT.

In the last decade, roles such as API Product Manager have gained prominence and fusion teams are also emerging. These roles focus on driving business value out of APIs and engaging their internal and external API ecosystems to generate new revenue opportunities, partnerships, and value

#4 Consumer demands have shifted

Today’s consumers value instant gratification and convenience. The connectivity brought on by the widespread use of APIs has shifted the typical consumer experience.

Let’s use an example of calling a ride with your Amazon Alexa device. APIs power the connected experience between your rideshare app, Alexa device, and bank accounts to pay the fare. Digital capabilities like this have changed what customers expect from the brands they work with.

APIs were once a “nice to have,” but now they’re instrumental in facilitating a variety of processes to meet consumers’ needs. The key differentiator today is which use cases, architectures, and environments are supported by an API management platform. This has brought about a new demand for universal API management.

Universality: The next evolution of API management

To solve today’s challenges, enterprises require solutions like universal discovery, manageability, and governance across all their services. Universal API management is the ability to open the scope of full lifecycle management capabilities to APIs regardless of where they’re built, the architecture in which they’re implemented, or the environment they’re hosted in. It’s the next evolution of API management that transforms traditional approaches to be more open, flexible, and scalable.

With universal API management, enterprises can:

  • Work with APIs of any origin: With the adoption of microservice architectures, enterprises are expanding their RESTful technology stacks with newer protocols like AsyncAPI and GraphQL. With universal API management, organizations can work with any API — regardless of where it is created or which protocol it uses.
  • Work in any architecture: Organizations work with a wide range of architectures — from monolithic applications to microservices. Universal API management enables organizations to work with any architectural pattern by securing all of its services — no matter the size.
  • Work in any environment: With universal API management, APIs along with their governance, observability, and discoverability capabilities can operate independently from the platform’s hybrid, cloud, or hosting environment.
  • Engage any audience: Universal API management provides a central repository for all the organization’s APIs, allowing internal and external audiences across diverse roles to engage and get value from. This includes improving end-customer experiences, building new partnerships, and evolving new business models.

Impact of universal API management across different personas

With universal API management, APIs can be used for a number of use cases — opening up opportunities for employees across the enterprise:

  • Developers: Universal API management gives developers the flexibility to build APIs in any specification and implement any architecture — microservice, event-driven, and more.
  • API Product Managers: Universal API management offers API product managers, fusion teams, and their organizations a single source of truth and an easy-to-operate API portal that enables developers to easily find, explore, and reuse APIs built across any environment or platform.
  • Architects: Universal API management provides enterprise architects with the flexibility to operate in any architecture, cloud, or environment; while maintaining centralized manageability, security, and governance at scale with a lightweight gateway and API governance.

To learn more about universal API management, download our CIO guide to universal API management.

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