Use of APIs today and tomorrow
APIs are used in everyday lives, whether it is making an online payment, managing customer relationships, or even checking the weather app. Shortened from Application Programming Interface, APIs let products or services communicate with other products or services; A company specializing in one industry needs help from other fields to manage their business and provide a good service or product for customers. Companies are not able – or should not even try - to manage all aspects of business and their products with just their own software. Allowing API integrations creates an evolving circle for companies to sell their products and services and accept outside help that adds value to them.
APIs allow the communication between products
In a world where the digital market is constantly evolving, APIs bring in flexibility and winds of innovation for companies who are focused on their own industry. APIs are easy for developers to add into existing architectures, as opposed to building one of their own from the ground up, which can be challenging and expensive. Collaboration between companies increases and the results are, simply, better products.
An example of an everyday API use can be found when making a purchase from an online store: A clothing company is doing what they know: Sell clothes, manage customers, and market the brand. They have a working ecommerce platform for making sales, but to accept payments, they need an online banking system. Now, for a retail company it does not make sense to mix the retail industry with finance, so they outsource payments to a different company. Only with an API integration is the online store able to build payments systems into their own product, without having to manage the payment process themselves. This makes it easy and accessible for customers to use and creates supply and demand for companies doing business to business. Both companies do what they are good at and end up adding value for both parties.
Why do APIs need to be managed?
For an integration to effectively work, companies need to expose their data and functionalities of their services. API management gives control over who can access this data, how it is being used and what actions can be performed with it. In a world where data security is more important than ever before, API security is a crucial aspect of API management.
Unauthorized access and data breaches can be a common occurrence for a system that is not well protected. API management tools provide security features like authentication (verifying user’s identity) and authorization (granting access for authenticated user). Few ways to authenticate and authorize API users are secret tokens or keys, an authentication protocol called OAuth 2.0 or an HTTP authentication scheme that is easy and fast to implement. In addition, to avoid data leakage, standards and policies are established in which API management platforms offer help.
API governance is essential for effective API management as well. For users to have a fulfilling experience with a product that is supported by APIs, consistency is important. Companies have specific goals that they want to achieve with their products and services and with API governance a controlled collaboration is ensured as APIs are built and deployed. For example, a company that is launching their API wants to make sure that it is working cohesively across the systems it is integrated in. This can include design standards, response formats or the authentication method used, like tokens or OAuth 2.0. After all, the user experience when working with or using APIs affects the overall product or service experience and therefore, thought-out API government is essential.
Today's API management systems
Using APIs save time for users, companies and developers but how can time be saved with the management of APIs? The lifecycle of an API can be long, and as the stack piles up, managing them together effectively may become complicated. Nowadays, as the use of APIs have gained momentum, fresh API management companies are emerging, as well as renowned companies like Google having solutions of their own. Google Cloud’s API management solution Apigee is broadly used for building, managing and securing API stacks. The problem with traditional API management is that it cannot keep up with the evolving technology.
Outsourcing API management to AI
Striding away from traditional methods of managing APIs, the use of artificial intelligence is trending broadly – and for obvious reasons. Starting from developing an API, using artificial intelligence can replace vast amounts of hours that traditionally a developer would take by writing lines of code manually. AI can also be used to identify and correct bugs, make recommendations by analyzing existing API designs, generate tests to optimize the APIs functioning and even create front-end interface designs. AI has revolutionized the process of how code is typically written, and it is not touching solely API development - but the whole industry of programming.
Traditional API security is not enough anymore with the rising amount of data breaches in the cyber sector. It relies heavily on policies and processes checked manually and nowadays, is becoming almost impossible to do without computerized aid. AI and machine learning (ML) are used in the cybersecurity side of API management, as they improve the efficiency on how security threats are recognized and handled. AI can detect malicious activities and response to them individually. When previously it might have taken months to response to data breaches and to unfold them, AI can do it in real-time. In addition, AI helps with stronger authentication, authorization and can recognize abnormal patterns – even before any data breaches happen. For businesses that are newly introduced to the digital age and only starting to communicate with APIs, advanced cybersecurity is more important than ever.
AI also brings new methods on how API data is analyzed. Predictive AI can recognize patterns and consumer behaviors that help companies better their systems. For example, AI can predict a user’s typical behavior through-out the site, make personalized recommendations and increase the chances of the user placing a purchase.
In conclusion, APIs are everywhere. The API ecosystems are an everyday tool that individuals and companies use for better products, services, and user experience. In the digital era where cybersecurity is more important than ever and data breaches are becoming more and more common, AI can bring in solutions that cannot be compared to traditional methods. Ways to manage APIs are constantly evolving. The aim, however, is to keep API communication as effective and valuable as it has been so far. Not only do companies need it to stay in business but to also provide products and services that can compete in the ever-evolving technology market. APIs play a huge role in the economy already and implemented with the advantages of AI, their foot keep on taking more space.