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Enterprises and individual developers alike are heavily leveraging API-based access to data and services, especially for mobile and cloud apps. And they're getting an increasing palette of technologies to choose from for managing all those API processes. "A lot of our customers are exposing their services through APIs," says Apigee spokesman Bala Kasiviswanathan.
For example, the NCR consumer transaction company processes 300 million transactions a day and ran into a challenge where customers were looking to connect different services from different lines of businesses, said Eli Rosner, vice president of global software engineering. "Integration and orchestration became a very strategic need." Part of the answer was to bring API management capabilities into its MuleSoft enterprise service bus to orchestrate transaction-routing workflows in modern mobile and cloud applications, not just in its traditional back-office systems.
Learn more about service-oriented architecture in the Java enterprise:
Companies such as Apigee, CA's just-acquired Layer 7 Technologies, MuleSoft, Temboo, and WSO2 are tackling the API management need. Some secure API access, some provide an API exchange, and some provide cloud-based conduits to APIs:
Forrester says it has fielded an increasing number of inquiries about whether and how companies should expose Web APIs directly to third-party development organizations to create and unlock the value of business data: "Sometimes, an API provider's data gains value only when combined with data from other sources; for example, mashing up maps with transit data, payment data with retail [point-of-sale] systems, or sports scores with Open Graph information."
In some ways, API management is a follow-up to service-oriented architecture (SOA), an approach to modular, orchestrated software delivery that was the "it" enterprise technology in the mid-2000s but later fell out of favor as too academic and abstract for businesses paying the software architecture bills. Nonetheless, SOA's principles remain as valid as ever and have continued to be used -- especially in cloud offerings -- even as few vendors and developers dare speak the term.
Today, "API management is what SOA should have been eight to 10 years ago," says Chris Haddad, vice president of technology evangelism at WSO2. API management overcomes the limitations of SOA in areas such as security and quality of service, Haddad says.