7 Habits of Effective API and Service Management | Dreamfactory

Table of contents

A conference room in which the 7 habits of effective API and service management will be discussed.

Organizations face many challenges every day, and every day new challenges emerge. You have the day-to-day obstacles to overcome and then there is new twist. Today, the biggest challenge emerging on the market is how to adopt and implement effective API and service management habits. The number of APIs and services a company uses is growing exponentially every day, managing them individually or with a corporate wiki is just not possible.

It's time for you to find a way to effectively enforce policies, keep all of your connections secure and scale the deployment of services. APIs deployed properly across businesses, partners, consumers, devices, cloud applications and legacy systems can make this happen and help your business reach new heights.

DreamFactory Hosted Trial Signup

Generate a full-featured,documented, and secure REST API in minutes.

Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how.

Shifting Strategies

To keep up with market trends and fulfill the needs of consumers, many companies in the past started to shift their business strategy to a more service oriented architecture (SOA). By disassembling complex functions into atomic services, SOA promised to deliver a more streamlined process.

This seemed like a good idea at the time and many companies jumped on board, but the approach they adopted was all wrong. The original intent of SOA was to allow interoperability between services and applications. This was exactly what businesses wanted, however, the problem was in the execution of this strategy. It might have been due to misinformation or a lack of understanding, but companies did not get the results they had hoped for.

Organizations structured their SOA projects incorrectly, using a top-down approach that created a number of problems throughout the operation. The “top-down approach” was basically a rebuild or remodel design that gradually removed older systems and replaced them with newer, updated alternatives. This approach works well with old cars or houses, but it is not the most efficient way to rebuild a complex computing infrastructure.

Unfortunately, this was a very slow process that often dragged on for years, and dramatically diminished precious resources and far exceeded estimated budgets. Ultimately, the burden became too much for the business to bear.

This is one of the main reasons why the mere mention of the word SOA still send shivers down the backs of many tech experts and CEOs. The whole idea has almost become synonymous with a big white elephant – ending in certain disaster. Many businesses lost millions of dollars with this approach and most of the technological and business world considered SOA dead in the water.

In spite of these bad experiences, the fundamental principles of SOA are still sound and have been given new life in the form of API management.

Need help shifting your strategy? Contact DreamFactory today.

API Management and Next Gen SOA

API management is essentially the next generation of SOA. Software, industries, people, everything evolves. For example, no one uses Window 3.1 anymore. In fact, the majority of internet users today don't even know what that is or remember that a dial-up internet connection was actually a thing. Your customers can not even imagine a time when the internet was not at their fingertips, on their smart phones, available anytime, anywhere.

Evolution is the natural order of things and API is the natural evolution of SOA.

The hurdle to overcome is avoiding the well-known pitfalls that derailed thousands of SOA initiatives in the past and left too many companies afraid to even give it a chance.

API management has many similarities to SOA, but there are two major differences that could change the minds of many skeptics. First, it doesn't use the top-down, rip out and replace approach. API management employs a sleek, start at the bottom and move your way up, wrap-and-renew strategy.

Older services are given new life with fresh layers of accessible and developer-friendly interfaces, thereby shielding users from the complex technology underneath and saving the company time and money. Adding a new layer of technology is quicker, cheaper and more effective than stripping out old code and trying to piece in new bits that may or not fit properly the first time. The second major difference is that API initiatives focus mainly on ROI. Although a healthy ROI is the main objective of any company, it is also important to get to that point in the most efficient and effective manner. That makes API solutions a win-win situation – your company can realize bigger profits, tighter security plus a slew of other great benefits and your customers get the service and user experience they desire.

This next gen SOA delivers on the promises of the original, plus:

  • Application development is quicker
  • Risks of failure are greatly reduced
  • Developer effectiveness is improved
  • More agile and flexible

Rather than being a whole new concept, API management is essentially the grown-up, advanced SOA. Just as all great ideas grow and develop to become better over time, so has SOA. API took over where SOA left off and improved on the best parts and left out the rest.

For more information about SOA or how you can get started with APIs, contact DreamFactory.

API and Service Management Lead Digital Transformation

Organizations, large and small and from a diverse range of industries have joined the API economy or plan to do so very soon. Many factors influenced this decision, the pandemic being maybe the biggest at this time, although there is never a shortage of crisis situations that throw a loop to the best laid plans. With lock-downs and work-at-home programs, many companies accelerated their digital transformation to accommodate the new face of doing business. Doing business online is not new, but the drive and need to do so has been accelerated in the past few years.

Companies can no longer compete as lone entities. In this increasingly interconnected ecosystem, people are realizing that partnerships and collaborations are the best ways to create new business opportunities, gain competitive advantage and foster innovation.

According to the IBM Global C-suite Study, the majority of CxOs recognize external innovation is needed if a company wants to grow and survive. Respondents realized that their business can not compete on its own anymore. In fact, over half of the businesses surveyed plan to collaborate with more external partners.

These partnerships can only be successfully built with the help of APIs. API and service management tools can build the bridges you need to unlock the data and capabilities of current and future partners. With APIs, you can share data and applications with easy to use accessibly interfaces and platforms.

API solutions are more than just standard development tools used by data scientists and programmers. They are the new way of doing business by bringing together an assortment of functionalities and creating a completely new and innovative customer experience.

On top of all that, API and service management solutions redefine the core fundamentals of business partnerships, allowing you to be a part of the technological ecosystems without the cumbersome task of extensive renovations, negotiations or purchasing new information systems. This means companies of any size can tap into this virtual gold mine.

Get started today. DreamFactory can help. The sooner you tap into your own goldmine, the happier you will be!

7 Habits of Effective API and Service Management

Now you know all about API and service management and how they grew from the humble beginnings of the failed SOA, and why they are the foundation for success. What you may not know is how this can benefit you and how to get started.

These 7 habits will help you on the road to an effective API and service management strategy.

Habit 1 - Design with the API-first approach

An API-first approach puts your APIs at the top of the food chain. They are treated as the most important component in your system and seen as critical business assets your organization needs to operate effectively.

Everything about your project will take into consideration that the end product will be used on mobile devices, and that your API is the bridge between you and client applications. Putting the API in the first position (as opposed to a design-first approach) involves developing APIs that are consistent and reusable. You can accomplish this with API description language that establishes a contract (set perimeters) for how the API will behave and interact.

Establishing a contract is a bit time consuming, as it involves more brain-storming about the design itself. It may also involve additional planning and more collaboration with your partners or stakeholders to allow them to express their opinions and provide feedback on the API design before any code is written.

It is important to have everyone involved onboard before the developers take over. Although API is extremely flexible and can be modified at any time, it is better to have all of your ducks in a row before you launch.

Habit 2 - Select a solid API runtime

The API runtime platform enables the execution of the API. You need a solid API runtime so that all requests are received from apps or Web sites accurately and reliably and appropriate responses are sent back within a fraction of a split second. In most cases, the API runtime platform is an HTTP server, which allows exposing services to communicate across HTTP data transport lines. HTTP is the most commonly used protocol for REST APIs. Unlike many protocols, search engines, platforms and browsers, HTTP has stood the test of time. Basically, there would be no internet without HTTP. It is the the internet language understood by all others

End-user interactions and experiences depend solely on the availability, transport, stability, reliability and security of APIs and the API runtime. To make all of this happen smoothly, without any glitches or downtime, a solid API runtime is equipped with the ability to cache, balance loads and pool connections. Additional functions include real-time monitoring, logging and analytics to help operators measure the activities and productiveness of the API.

One of the biggest advantages of a solid API runtime is that providers are enabled to swiftly and smoothly deploy new APIs or perform maintenance or upgrades on existing ones.

Habit 3 - Create a centralized API and service management repository

Once the design and development of the API is complete, run it on a reliable platform to work out any bugs or problems. Next, it is essential to publish the API on a centralized API and service management repository. Publishing the API in a live atmosphere helps you to see it from the end-users point of view and improve the certainability and accessibility of your API.

A centralized repository allows users to easily find and access these API resources if needed. It also makes it easy to classify and search services. The management center is a means of designing and managing all APIs and services on the system in one easy to access location.

Habit 4 – Manage your services through versions, policies and contracts

It is very important to track all of the versions of your APIs and services, including how much they are used and by what types of user, gives you valuable insight into which APIs are fruitful and which need some tweaking. It is equally important to track which versions are being used the most and the APIs and services are used.

This information is necessary for API full lifecycle management and allows API publishers to analyze and evaluate any impact your upgrades and replaced versions may have had on your bottom line. All policies and contracts related to your APIs are crucial to the mandatory enforcement of international security measures and the management of SLAs on API callers.

API and service management solutions should be designed to provide a simple way for developers to create and define clear and concise policies and contracts. Every solution must be correctly associated with these policies and contracts and their users.

The DreamFactory system provides comprehensive and simple semantic version numbers, redundancy management and historical data of changes for APIs and service applications. You can freely release any new or updated versions of your applications any time you choose, and users can switch between the different versions with just one click. This meets both your agility and flexibility objectives as well as the needs and desires of your users.

At the same time, with the DreamFactory system, your development team can easily create and establish data contracts that comply with all specifications and regulations for each existing API and any new ones you develop and deploy.

Habit 5 – Promote your APIs and build up a community of followers

Promotion is the key to success. If no one knows about your API, then they don't know about you or your business or the products or services you offer, which means you can not grow or prosper. Create a developer portal and build up a community of loyal customers around your API – it is the only path to success. By allowing end-users to download documents they like, ask questions or request more information and to easily follow your API, your publishers can continually interact with your customers and improve on any aspects that have caused problems.

How to promote your API:

  • List your API on as many directories as possible. Online API directories are a great place to start. Most directories have a search function to help users quickly and easily find your API in a variety of ways, depending on the algorithm of the directory. Make your listing generic, but unique. You want people to find you, but you also want to show up in as many search results as possible.
  • Create interesting (or even entertaining) content. People browse the internet for a variety of reasons – shopping, videos - but most of their interactions will involve some amount of reading. Make sure what you have to offer is interesting enough to make them stop and take notice.
  • Take full advantage of social media. Social media might have lost much of its credibility lately, but millions of people still flock to the various platforms every day and that makes it a powerful tool for developing relationships with prospective users. What you share on social media can be informative or entertaining, whatever works best for your business and helps you acquire as many new prospective customers as you can.
  • Attend as many events, in person or online, as you can find, or host one of your own.
  • Send out press releases or launch announcements. This may sound like the most obvious way to tell the world about your new API, but many organizations tend to forget about the obvious. You can announce a countdown to the release date publicly or keep it internal and only let in your existing users. However, the more people that know, the better your chances of success. Blogs and email newsletters are great venues for launch announcements.
  • Word of mouth. This is the oldest, yet perhaps the most effective form of advertising. It takes no money and no creativity. You simply brag up your API to everyone and anyone, without being too annoying. It is similar to social media advertising, but in a more informal way.
  • Direct marketing. If you already have a user base or email list, target them directly. Reach out to your followers.

Habit 6 – Assess and monitor API usage

Understanding which aspects of your service are getting attention and which are being ignored is important, but there is more to API management than that. It is also very important to know when, where and how your APIs are being used.

You should make full use of the metrics available to gather data on overall usage and independent usage by consumer. You should closely monitor these statistics to measure API activity and user interaction. By monitoring API usage and understanding each user's participation patterns of APIs is vital from a technical and business perspective.

Over a prescribed period of time, this data will help you gauge which areas of your API and service management solution is representing a generous ROI, which areas are coasting, and which parts of your API needs improvement.

When you understand your users, you can create the best possible service that will keep them coming back, plus rave about you to their friends and family (spreading the word about your API).

Habit 7 – Never stop improving

Just when you think you have created the best API and service management solution on the planet – and maybe you did – new technological advancements have made your masterpiece obsolete. Fortunately, APIs are fully scalable and can be modified and improved on the fly.

Even without advances in tech, users are fickle. What they love one day they hate the next. You have to be prepared to meet the demands of your customers. The customer might not always be right, but they do pay your bills. Your company can not succeed without happy customers.

You may not necessarily have to make major improvements every month or so, but you will likely have to make little tweaks and adjustments to keep everyone happy and keep them coming back.

DreamFactory Hosted Trial Signup

Generate a full-featured,documented, and secure REST API in minutes.

Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how.

Getting Started with DreamFactory

With the constant changes and advancements in technology, companies are continually moving towards more interconnected solutions. Companies are embracing API and service management solutions to help them increase their ROI and help them stay ahead of the competition. Choosing and implementing the best API platform is essential for enterprises to support innovation and growth.

Developing APIs can be a complex, time consuming, and expensive process. It also exposes businesses to a number of risks including consistency, quality, and developer resourcing. DreamFactory is a REST API generation tool for 20+ databases and a range of other data sources. It gives you the ability to generate secure and fully documented APIs in a matter of minutes. Ready to get started?  

Sign up for a 14-day free trial and start creating your APIs today!

Related Reading

3 Best API Management Tools