Do you need an API management solution? Here are 10 pros and cons
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Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr

If you’re wondering whether your company needs an API management solution (APIM) like the Azure API Management platform, we’ve compiled the top 10 pros and cons

The application programming interface or API is critical to mobile app development and essential to a robust API strategy and business development in general, regardless of industry. Maybe you realize this already and are using APIs to accelerate your business growth, but you think that’s enough and you don’t need any help to make it happen. If you’re still wondering whether your company needs an API management solution (APIM) like the Azure API Management platform, we’ve gone ahead and counted down the top ten reasons you probably don’t need it and then offered up a good dose of reality for why you may want to consider it.

To start, what is an API management platform?

An API management platform, which includes a developer portal, allows you to manage APIs in a secure, scalable environment, often including self-service developer onboarding resources like API documentation, code examples, and an interactive developer console. Its main purpose is to provide API lifecycle management, from creation and quality control to access control and security, all behind one checkpoint with well-outlined developer registration procedures and documentation.

But, still, maybe an API management solution just isn’t for you. We kick off these reasons why you don’t need an APIM portal with the most important part of your business and ours — the people. Developer experience is a practice we take seriously, but it’s important to remember that DX encompasses not only those who are using your APIs, but it’s also about how you treat your own team because managing your API dashboard isn’t just about how to connect better to the backend, but how to leave a lasting sense of service and commitment.

10. You Don’t Need Better APIM: You only have a handful of app developers interested in your API.

Sure, sometimes managing them manually may become a tad demanding, but it’s nothing that you can’t handle. Plus as the days start to cool, everyone wants to spend more long hours behind a desk doing extra work.

Reality Check: As demand grows, you need automation.

More and more, your entire development team has greater responsibility for shared designing, programming and testing. As your business becomes more successful, your team’s load gets heavier. If you don’t take advantage of good API management services, your customers aren’t going to be the only ones looking to work with the competition. Your own developers are an important part of the developer experience, too. Right now, when your API changes or has to be integrated with external APIs, your team needs to take time to make code changes to the backend. A good API management platform instead allows you to reshape the backend into the desired API, adding capabilities to it whenever you want.

9. That handful of developers using your APIs are super smart.

They are completely self-sufficient and support groups are simply redundant when you can write JSON blindfolded in your sleep.

Reality Check: Onboarding is essential.

No matter how clever your customers are, fragmented experiences, poor onboarding, and limited discoverability and usability mean just that—a limited developer experience that slows them down and turns them off quickly. A good API management solution allows you to create an API catalog and clear API documentation quickly, all in an effort to help developers understand almost immediately how your APIs work, what your users can do with them and how to make their first API call. There’s no need for them to be JSON ninjas because your better API management makes everything clearer!

8. Your API is self-explanatory.

High five to your technical team! Any developer can just look at your APIs and instantly understand what they offer and how to use them. It is so intuitive that they won’t need any documentation or code samples. Your developers are just that good.

Reality Check: API documentation is th most important part of developer experience.

We spend so much time talking about the user experience (UX) of the end user, but when you are opening up a part of your business via an API, you better be focused just as much on the DX that is driving it all. In fact, according to Forrester, there is a distinct shift in software adoption patterns that are leaning heavily toward the developer as the key decision maker. API documentation is the first clue to your developer customer about the quality of your API and what she can do with it.  According to API Changelog cofounder Bruno Pedro, the first step of customer engagement is using API documentation to guide the user through his first API call, offering real-life examples along the way. It benefits your bottom line to cut down on the time to complete the first successful API call, by offering immediate access to docs and examples. Don’t have time to create detailed API documentation? Don’t worry, a good API management service takes care of all of that for you by automatically generating your API documentation out of your existing metadata..

There are two sides to customer service — you need to balance the benefits you’re offering your consumer with how much time, effort, and money it costs you to offer it. Anything that helps you automate part of the customer experience in a more efficient way means you are saving money while protecting your real bottom line: the returning customers. Now, you just need to decide if an API management portal is a reasonable and cost-effective way to do that.

7. All developers are well intentioned and nice.  

No worries, you’re sure everyone will use your APIs gently and in good faith. There is no need to develop rules and policies around your API usage and access. You have more pressing needs than protecting your APIs and data assets.

Reality Check: Clear boundaries make for stronger relationships.

When you open up your API, anything can happen and you might not know who your users are and what they are planning to do. You need to cover yourself by using an API management platform to monitor all usage and to state very clearly the terms of service you offer. An APIM manages access control, making sure only authorized developers access your APIs within your established limits. The relationship between you and your users becomes clearer, enabling mutual success.

6. Your integration partners’ APIs are as easy to use as yours are.

Your business partners’ APIs are as flawless as yours and integrating with their APIs is easy! Your developers are just as perfect and can integrate with even the most difficult-to-use APIs. Developer experience isn’t that important anyway.

Reality Check: Strategic partnerships never run smoothly.

Each partnership is different, involving different API styles, release schedules, and standards. Sometimes when you give your developers access to an API exposed by your partners, you come to learn quickly that it’s poorly written and complex. If you expose it via your API management instance, you can suddenly measure it, create access controls, create thematic documentation, and fit that partner API into your workflow and point of view.

5. Since you have a free API, users can’t be expecting much.

Your APIs are just a marketing exercise for now and you haven’t figured out your API monetization strategy yet. Even though modern Internet users have pretty high performance and reliability expectations, your service — since your APIs are free — is what it is. If latency is through the roof, they will patiently wait because they will always remember that you are providing a service at no cost. Your users are just understanding and patient like that.

Reality Check: There is more than one path to API monetization.

A free API is a great way to create stickiness with your product or service and can even encourage developers to build apps and integrations right on top of your API, making it even stickier. Like all free things, it’s a great way to get people to start using your API, knowing that it increases the chances of them paying later. EBay’s free selling API allows third-party developers to list items programmatically, while the resale giant grows its inventory and, inevitably, its revenue. But you must always keep in mind that there are a lot of free services out there and bad service and API management still comes at a cost: If you don’t provide exceptional service and user experience, you’ll lose your customers fast. Plus, even if your API monetization strategy doesn’t charge per API call doesn’t mean that you’re not learning anything from your users. An API management platform offers you API analytics so you understand the different ways your APIs are being used, revealing new revenue streams.

You integrated API development into your business strategy for a reason — or, more likely, many reasons. An API strategy comes hand-in-hand with goals like increasing revenue, improving customer experience, and driving efficiency, productivity, and innovation throughout your work. But you can manage all that in your ample free time, so why would an API management platform help your business development?

4. Innovation is not critical to your business.

Your organization has been around for years and nothing really new is happening. Even though APIs are re-invigorating other businesses, it probably wouldn’t impact yours. Your business is well established and successful and you can disregard how this part of the world is changing.

Reality Check: If you’re not disrupting your industry, you’re dying.

APIs enable mobile, the Internet of Things, the connected car, and how you can work more easily with your partners. Your partners are looking to access your products and services faster via fewer clicks. The easiest and securest way to do this is with an API. Read: API equals efficiency. But struggling to juggle multiple APIs with multiple users doesn’t. APIs are your innovative solution, but you need the right tool, an API management service, to run it all effectively.

3. Security is just not important to you.

Everyone who has access to your APIs has been fully vetted and can be totally trusted. No one has access issues or makes mistakes like using the same password for everything. And you have no information that could risk your company’s credibility, so why would you need to protect yourself from outside threats anyway?

Reality Check: Security is everything.

But you knew that. You’ve probably already taken the first step for implementing single sign-on across your company, but you realize that you have a long way to go and little time or resources to do it all. Instead of managing all of your APIs and logins scattered across your staff and with all the external partners and API consumers that you may not even know, you should be using an API management platform to put it all behind the same wall, where you can create access control to decide who accesses what, when. This will also keep all of your software behind security walls. Plus it’s scalable so the API security grows right along with your business.

2. You are making enough money already.

Your business is successful and you don’t want to appear greedy. Sure, you might be leaving money on the table, but it’s not like your board members, investors, or execs will mind.

Reality Check: Results matter.

No we don’t think objectives are the only things that matter, but making money is a great way to grow and expand your business. Still, how can an API management service help you make more money? An APIM allows you to increase reach and to make it easier for developers to join you. It allows you to be more productive and efficient in offering better services. And it makes sure that you are compliant and secure as you scale your business, mitigating risk along the way.

1. There is no need to monitor  your APIs — they are flawless already!

If all of we’ve talked about sounds like your organization, then why pay attention to what’s happening with your APIs? Your developers are smart, need no help and simply have plenty of time on their hands. Your users don’t care about quality of the service, and your development team easily develops stellar APIs. Plus, APIs are so 2014 anyway.

Reality Check: You need an API management platform.

You simply don’t have the time or resources to offer the right quality of service that your customers deserve without using an out-of-the-box API management service that lets you automate the entire flow and experience in a managed platform from Day One. A good APIM can monitor the health of your APIs and let you catch and fix bugs quickly. And it lets you do all this while consolidating workflows and gaining invaluable insights into your customers. 

The views expressed are of the author.

Geektime invites global tech and startup professionals to share their opinions and expertise with our readers. If you would like to share your point of view, please contact us at [email protected]

Featured Image Credit: Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr

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Jennifer Riggins

About Jennifer Riggins


Jennifer Riggins is a New Jersey Girl in Barcelona, a marketing consultant with a passion for helping start-ups better sell the benefits they have to offer and individuals build their personal brand, from messaging to marketing to website to pitching.

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