The Skills Required for Proper API Management
Applications Programming Interfaces (APIs) have had a major impact on the operations of businesses the world over. Today, businesses are able to automate most of their transactions and operate from anywhere in the world because of APIs.
For instance, a company can have offices in different parts of the world, with all its employees working on the same project and remaining on par with each other. Such companies use applications powered by APIs to streamline the companies’ operations.
APIs are computing interfaces that power the communication between different applications. An application sends a request through an API to another application. The request is received and interpreted, then sent to the relevant resource. A response is then sent back to the original application, again through the same API.
APIs direct the type of calls that can be made, the responses sent, the types of data formats used when sending and receiving requests, and the conventions used in the entire process.
Image source: Pixabay
In addition to APIs allowing applications to communicate, they have also made software development easier and faster. When building a new application, one needs to look at functionalities offered by other APIs (functionalities that they need in their applications) and implement them.
However, organizations need to make sure that they have invested in skilled personnel, from the API developers to the API managers and analysts if they want to succeed with their API programs. This is one of the reasons why APIs are leading businesses to success.
The continued growth of the use of APIs has given organizations a new challenge - API management. When organizations implement APIs, they need to employ the right skills through which they can keep an eye on the API to evaluate things such as the API’s performance and to make sure that the API meets its expectations.
API management skills are required from the time API development starts, (or an API is adopted in case of a third-party API) to the time that the API is retired. API management is the process of managing an API’s lifecycle through different steps including creation, documentation, testing, discovering, publishing, and monetization.
To ensure the success of an API, organizations need to make sure that they comply with certain aspects for proper API management.
Some of these aspects include:
Policy Enforcement and Security
Organizations need to make sure that their digital services and connectivity powered by APIs are offered in a reliable and secure manner. The security of APIs is one of the most important aspects of APIs and API management. API management platforms come equipped with different security policies such as API operation and resource level authorization as well as policies for access control.
Organizations need to invest in the right skilled personnel that can use these policies, depending on the requirements of their businesses, to make sure that their API products are secure and avoid leaving loopholes that might be prone to attack. In situations where there have been cases of poor security, organizations have ended up being attacked and losing sensitive data. When this happens, there are chances of one losing business or closing shop.
API Uptime and Availability
In an ideal world, organizations and those implementing any API expect that they will have the services offered by the APIs without experiencing any downtimes. Organizations and other API providers need to make sure that they have implemented the right API management platforms and employed skilled managers to operate them. This helps in making sure that they avoid any downtimes with their APIs. It also helps in notifying them of any APIs that might be experiencing downtimes.
When implementing an API management platform, organizations have the option of choosing a hybrid (or on-premise) management platform or a cloud-based management platform. Those that choose the hybrid or on-premise management platform should make sure that they have followed the best guidelines to set up the platforms. They also need skilled managers since they take all the responsibility for setting up the platforms and making sure that their APIs are always available.
However, choosing the cloud-based platform makes things a little bit easier. This is because the platforms are managed and maintained by the cloud provider who offers more support and makes sure that your APIs are always available. That notwithstanding, organizations need to enforce proper API management to make sure that their APIs are fully available.
Monitoring the API Management Platform
One of the major decisions when it comes to API management is choosing which API management platform an organization will use. However, the work does not end there. Apart from managing your APIs and making sure that they are always available for consumption, you also need to monitor the management platform. This gets easier for organizations that have employed skilled managers.
For instance, assume that an organization gets a management platform and deploys its APIs for management. The organization then assumes that they have no business in monitoring the platform. This platform comes with many tools and features that aid in the management of APIs. If one feature is not working well, then it means that the organization might miss on some issues that might arise with their APIs.
When this happens and is not noticed in good time, it will end up affecting the operations of the organization and anyone else implementing the APIs in the management platform. Therefore, organizations need to train and invest in skilled API managers to streamline the process of managing their APIs.
API Analytics and Monitoring
Monitoring the API management platform is not enough to guarantee an organization of proper API management. The management platforms come with a set of tools and a reliable dashboard that offers insights into the performance of all the APIs in the management platform. These tools allow organizations to analyze things such as how the APIs are used, the customers using the APIs, the health of the APIs, and error reporting of the APIs among others.
Organizations need to use these analytic reports for decision-making with regard to their APIs. For instance, they are able to analyze the usage of their APIs and see what their customers want. They are even able to predict any future changes in the demands of their customers and align their APIs to those changes in demand. This is an important aspect of API management that every organization needs to observe.
Effective API Management Skills
As much as APIs have streamlined business processes and made development easier, not all organizations have been able to benefit from the use of APIs. This is contributed by the lack of the right skills in the management of APIs. Businesses and their API managers need to make sure that they have the following skills to effectively manage their APIs;
Easily Understanding their Business Strategy
Every organization needs to invest in API managers that have skills aligned with their business strategy. The API managers need to have skills that can help them define the strategy, vision, and priorities of their business and what they want their APIs to achieve. They need to know how the API will help in running the business and articulate its outcome.
Prioritizing the Important Things
API managers should be skilled enough to give priority to the most important aspects of the business’ API program. For instance, they need to make sure that while managing an API, they are making it easy for use by its consumers. They need to adopt user satisfaction metrics easily without having to make things difficult for their developers and API users.
Recruiting the Right Skills
API managers do not work alone. They work with developers, testers, and analysts among others. They, therefore, need to develop the right recruitment skills to help them make the right hires. They need a different mindset and different sets of skills to publish APIs for external use. This means that if they have a team with the wrong skills, their API program has a very high chance of failing.
API Security Skills
APIs allow applications to share highly sensitive information - something that API managers need to be very careful with. They (API managers) need to be skilled in the general online security requirements, and in particular, API security. They are required to know how to implement the right security parameters from the time API development starts.
Scalability and Planning for the Future
API managers need to be able to plan for the future in case there are changes in their API program. As such, they are required to have the right management skills that help them predict future changes in their API requirements as well as those of their customers. In addition, they need to have monitoring skills to make sure that their API’s performance is not affected in any way even when the API usage grows.
API Management Needs Skilled Managers
Organizations might employ the right API management tools, but then the lack of skilled managers might be their (organizations) downfall. They need to make sure that the people tasked with managing their APIs and working with the employed tools are skilled enough to take the business and the use of the APIs in the right direction.
Smart organizations are doing more work when deciding which management tools to use and recruiting skilled API managers who then learn how to operate, manage, and monitor the tools. With the right platforms and skilled managers, they (organizations) have been able to achieve success with their APIs and reap the benefits that come with decisive innovation of business operations.
About the Author
Ron Evan is a Digital Marketing Specialist and a writer who takes his time writing articles about traveling, psychology, and digital marketing. He learned about the digital marketing industry accidentally almost four years ago. He is currently based in Taiwan, taking an MBA degree with a focus on Marketing. During his free time, he enjoys going to karaoke, reading a good book, or watching Netflix.