APIs have become essential tools for company growth and its agility. But their development is not an easy task. These interfaces have become real products with their value offer, their functionalities, life cycle and especially their users. It is vital to consider different steps to guarantee their success.
The API (Application Programming Interface) is one of the major mechanisms of digital transformation. But the dynamic engendered on one side by consumer needs and on the other by that of the market can also cause mistakes. Being reactive doesn’t mean rushing! APIs must be handled with the same attention and the same scheduling as every important service for an organization.
It is therefore essential to optimize the management of its APIs (or API Management) in order to make the most of their potential and offer a convincing service in an ever-changing environment. Two major recent acquisitions in the API domain – the acquisition of Apigee by Google and 3scale by Red Hat – have confirmed this necessity of implementing API lifecycle management.
You will define the goal of API
A successful and scalable API program firstly needs a solid team that knows the purpose of API in depth. The use cases revolve around one common goal which is the opening of the Information System (IS). But what is it for? Is it a question of creating adaptable architecture by exposing all internal services via API, to provoke an enhanced user commitment or to increase traffic to your main site? It seems obvious, but it’s good to remember because many examples show that it’s good to remember a basic rule: if it’s your final consumers who find value in your API, this project must be conceived in consideration of their needs. When the objectives are clearly defined, it will be easier to choose recommended measures to be aligned to this goal. This preliminary step also allows you to note how API is integrated with your whole digital transformation strategy. Remember that this strategy involves complete adherence to the strength of the APIs to guarantee the success of the platform.
An API management software: you will be focused
The success of this project involves your team being concentrated on the implementation and adoption of your API, hence the necessity of relying on an API management software. It allows the creation, documentation, management and publication of APIs in a securely-developed environment. It also automates the connections between an API and the applications that uses it. Finally, it helps administrators to supervise the coherence of connections, traffic and security. This type of tool (like SwaggerHub, Apiary and Reprezen) is therefore an essential element in the lifecycle of an API.
The tests on your API: you will multiply
The team must rely on a set of hypotheses which must be confirmed or refuted. The recourse to tools formerly mentioned allows them to develop the API progressively with regular returns of the stakeholders and customers at each iteration. Feedback leads to the achievement of a very efficient interface.
A full battery of tests (functional, reliability, security, conformity relating to RGPD…) can be organized, but in a prioritized way, meaning according to objectives and the target of your API.
You will survey the dependences
Your API is conceived for interoperability. But the applications have become more and more complex with numerous dependences and components (internal and external); it has become difficult to have a global vision. To this end, it is possible to virtualize entire APIs in using modern approaches (containers/link) in order that they can be used in environments of development and production.
You will maintain good API performance indicators
Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) allow the demonstration or not of the efficiency of your APIs and to measure the return on investment (ROI). In one word, does it reach its objectives? To define KPIs is therefore an essential element in understanding not only how it functions, but also the impact it has on your services, users or partners. The number of users or the number of calls is interesting to measure the impact of API promotional activities. But we must not forget to include a metric linked to revenue.
You won’t forget the end of API
There is always an end. At the end of the life cycle, an API is stopped. It’s the phase where the support of the version (or in several cases, an entire API) is disrupted. This was recently the case of the API Google Hangouts. After the advertising of its new messaging applications, Allo and Duo, Google decided to redirect Hangouts to the professional market. At the beginning of 2017, the firm Mountain View announced the termination of the responsibility of Google+ Hangouts APIs which allowed developers to create third-party applications for the service.
One of the greatest qualities of APIs is that they help a company to become a platform in which partners, suppliers and even customers can co-create the value that they want. Mastering the life cycle of these interfaces must become a norm. This innovation model through in-sourcing allows the magnification of the global audience by activating new usages not addressed until now. But this ultimate goal involves maintaining its API by integrating good design practices and betting on continuous improvement from user growth.