API management is about service oriented architecture, taken to the next level. The same practices and philosophies developed as part of service oriented architecture will also serve API management well.
A couple of weeks back, we presented a view that SOA and APIs represent different levels of interactions to enterprises. In a post at Service Technology Magazine, Mala Ramakrishnan, a director of product marketing at Oracle, suggests that API management is -- for all intents and purposes -- SOA, but taken to the next level -- addressing new initiatives such as mobile and cloud. As she observes, "API management is fundamentally SOA with a difference in approach of extensive involvement of unknown third party users and a focus on channel strategy and in particular, mobile enablement."
SOA best practices are also key to API management, says Ramakrishnan. An effectively deployed API "requires the infrastructure to be well designed and service-oriented, hiding the underlying complexity from the end user and exposing exactly what is needed for consumption."
Here are some key SOA best practices that are also essential to API management:
Mediation and virtualization: This helps "guarantee that functionality under the covers of an API can change and grow independent of the definition of APIs," says Ramakrishnan. "For the consumers of an API, it should not matter what the underlying functionality is. The API should just meet the contract without having to reveal the underlying implementation, and should guarantee delivery."
Orchestration and connectivity: "Delivering an API involves orchestrating across functionality both internal and externally," she observes. "This requires not just a good orchestration engine and tool, but also availability of an extensive set of adapters that can ensure connection across a myriad of applications that usually encompass any IT infrastructure."
Governance: It's all about trust and collaboration between and within business and IT. This has always been the keystone to SOA, and accordingly, will play a role in identifying key performance metrics important to the business. Effective API management "exposes and manages specific functionality in applications in a secure manner," says Ramakrishnan. "It provides end-to-end lifecycle management of APIs. Through a centralized repository, policy enforcement and tracking of key performance indicators, the solution provides the foundation required to build business value."
Governance is also important to provide enterprise sensibilities in "documentation, version control and delivery of business processes for the management of APIs." As Ramakrishnan observes: "it is one thing to plan a business strategy for monetization around APIs and another to measurably track the monetization and adoption – something service integration has delivered on for decades."
Security, usability, throughput and availability: The API needs to deliver on these essentials for enterprise computing. The good news is that all are "all easy to achieve with a tried and tested service integration offering," says Ramakrishnan.