by Tony Harris • December 15, 2020
APIs (application programming interfaces) are an essential, yet often overlooked, component of the modern organization’s IT environment. According to a 2020 study, 83 percent of IT professionals and executives say that API integration is “critical” to their business strategy. These days, a single organization may rely on dozens or hundreds of third-party APIs, each of which may have a significant downstream effect on a company’s productivity and profitability.
The field of API management becomes even more convoluted when we consider distributed APIs that are deployed both across multiple clouds and on-premises. In this article, we’ll discuss the field of distributed API management: what it is, how it works, and what you need to know for your own organization.
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IT environments have a trend to grow more complex over time without any intervention, and the same holds true when it comes to APIs. According to the ProgrammableWeb API directory, for example, the number of web APIs reached 17,000 in 2016, a figure which increased by 758 percent from 2010.
As APIs grow in number and importance, the task of managing them also becomes more challenging. The use cases of APIs include integrations with social media, CRM (customer relationship management) software, financial applications, sales and marketing platforms, and much more.
In addition to cloud vs. on-premises, APIs can be classified into different categories based on the amount of security and privacy that they employ:
What’s more, APIs can differ in terms of the technology that they make use of. Although REST APIs are by far the most popular choice for modern web APIs, their adoption is by no means universal. At the last count, SOAP APIs made up roughly 15 percent of the market, with .NET APIs at 2 percent.
Given the fractured state of API integrations, any solution to deal with this complexity must be highly robust and mature—and that’s where distributed API management comes in. Distributed API management is the task of managing APIs that are deployed across a wide range of IT environments, including both cloud and on-premises.
The challenges of distributed API management include:
While the APIs themselves may be distributed, the task of managing them should not be. Distributed API management requires a dashboard or “single pane of glass” that provides complete visibility into your enterprise APIs. This centralized tool should include functionality for seeing which services are available, which people have access to what information, and more.
Authentication is also a crucial concern when performing distributed API management. With potentially dozens or hundreds of authentication methods to worry about (not to mention unique authentication keys for each user), distributed API management needs to ensure that users can access the data they need securely and efficiently, while protecting against intrusions by malicious actors. One solution to the problem of API authentication is the use of federated identities: using a trusted third party to link a single person’s identity across multiple systems that have their own forms of identity management.
API management is no mean feat, especially when the APIs involved are distributed across such a wide range of locations. That’s why DreamFactory has built a dedicated, comprehensive, enterprise-grade API management solution. The DreamFactory platform makes it easier than ever to automatically generate and manage robust, production-ready APIs without writing a single line of code.
Ready to find out how DreamFactory can make your employees more productive and efficient and digitally transform your organization?Get in touch with our team today to discuss your business needs and objectives, or to start your free trial of the DreamFactory platform.
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