APIs: What are they and how can we embrace them?

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Gravitee.io is a leading open-source API platform, enabling worldwide developers and business users to build, manage and monitor their APIs. As a team, we are driven by the purpose of giving customers the ability to manage synchronous and asynchronous APIs securely. We started out as an open-source product and still follow an open-source first ethos within our organization.

Our aim is to lead this next generation of API. Gravitee can alleviate the challenge that businesses face when they have a myriad of data types moving at different velocities.

There is no one consistent way to build, manage, monitor, secure, expose and consume all of this data, and I believe that Gravitee has the platform and the team to be that leader in this next generation of API.

What makes Gravity different from its competitors?

The API management market, as a whole, was formed around 2000 to 2005. That first generation of API platforms solved a business pain; the cloud was coming. The first generation of integration and API vendors created a layer of abstraction that enabled people to realize the potential of the cloud.

That led to a rise in a second generation – the microservices generation. Functional or business services are decomposed to their most granular components.

My belief is that we are now entering a third generation that is no longer about an architectural principle. It’s about the data that resides within it. This is where Gravitee is different, we know that it’s no longer just about API’s traditional request-response, but streaming in real-time, more accurately, and with more data.

The way we communicate has changed and is driven by consumer demand for more accurate and more real-time data. Yet, organizations still have a lot of more traditional request-response data sources. How do they build, manage, monitor, secure, expose and enable consumption of
these different velocities of this data? At the same time as this, you have increasing challenges in the regulatory environment and around information security. Gravitee is uniquely addressing these modern API challenges, which is something that no other organization in this space is addressing.

How are non-software companies embracing APIs?

APIs are driving massive capability and productivity boosts for non-software companies. By leveraging the power of externalized and abstracted functionality, companies are able to leverage leading technologies to rapidly assemble new applications with features that would otherwise require tremendous engineering resources.

What is an API? Is it a product, service, integration, or is it something else?

Arguably, it’s all of the above. At its core, it is a form of integration. Yet, from an end-user perspective, it is a service. And with the emergence of the “API Economy”, API is most definitely a product as well.

More importantly, we’re entering the next frontier which requires us to fundamentally redefine the classic definition of an API – APIs are no longer considered a mere enabling mechanism for requesting and retrieving data between services. Event-driven architectures are exploding on the market, ushering in a shift in the way systems communicate in the form of asynchronous communications. Allowing for more efficient communication, less waiting and the ability to do real-time processing, asynchronous communication is the backbone of modern event-based architectures. Companies now need to look at managing both synchronous and asynchronous APIs and protocols without creating siloed approaches.

What best practices should companies be following when developing and launching applications?

Organizations nowadays are struggling to meet the demands of their customers. Customers’ behavior has now changed and this was especially accelerated by the impact of the pandemic.

All this has created the need for organizations to have an online presence to deliver those same services. This created a need to innovate faster and to compose data, processes and/or applications to avoid having to reinvent the wheel every time a new solution needs to be built.

The de-facto standard in building applications as composable building blocks is by leveraging APIs exposed by existing applications. In building new applications the following principles should be followed:

Reuse existing APIs wherever possible – This will reduce the delivery time and time to market by leveraging the work that had already been completed which will result in a cost reduction in operating costs, bugs, and maintenance.

Treat APIs as a first-class citizen rather than an afterthought – Organizations should abandon the approach of considering each application as a mono-use artifact to only have to add APIs on top later. Applications should be built with API in mind and these APIs should be designed using a specification language that will help deliver a better DX (Developer Experience).

Adopt a Design-First approach – starting the development of an API by designing its interface (the “I” in API) has many advantages. Adopt security by design – Security should be a top priority when designing an API. Adopt an API Management strategy for your APIs.

What does the future look like for software businesses?

Consumer demands are changing. Whether it be expectations around no downtime, real-time, accurate data, or connected experiences, organizations now have a new benchmark for what it means to be a winner in today’s digital economy.

These demands have ushered in a need for companies to shift from more traditional synchronous systems to asynchronous and event-driven architectures for benefits such as real-time data streaming and processing.

Companies, therefore, need to be prepared to manage both traditional synchronous APIs addition to newer asynchronous APIs and protocols to meet these increasing demands.

Moreover, this explosion of protocols and the mix of synchronous and asynchronous APIs are going to place an increased security burden on organizations. Leading analyst firms have predicted that API’s are going to be the largest attack vector so ensuring proper security is in place is critical.

The good news is that companies can now innovate at a pace rarely seen in our history, with features that previously would have required engineering resources that were likely not available. API-based application delivery is starting to challenge the very premise of Moore’s law!

By: Rory Blundell, CEO, Gravitee

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