Enterprises operating a number of different B2B and B2C APIs across subsidiaries and operational companies (OpCos), need to have a comprehensive, effective governance strategy in place to ensure all their APIs are standardized and consistent across the entire ecosystem.

What is API governance and why does it matter?

API governance aims to put guidelines and controls in place to manage the deployment and use of an enterprise’s APIs. These controls help IT teams ensure the use of their APIs is standardized and compliant with all of their internal protocols and adequately support the broader business strategy.

It’s more complex than that, however. A governance strategy also enables enterprises to handle any technical damage to their APIs and resolve issues quickly, minimizing problems for end-users. It helps them select the right API management software that’s compatible with both their needs as a business and the particulars of the API itself.

Main API security risks and compliance issues to understand

Risk management is a core part of API governance. These are the top ten security risks associated with APIs that an effective governance strategy can mitigate, according to the Open Web Application Security Project:

  • Broken object-level authorization
  • Broken user-level authorization
  • Broken function-level authorization
  • Excessive data exposure
  • Lack of resource and rate limiting
  • Mass assignment
  • Improper assets management
  • Injection
  • Security misconfiguration
  • Insufficient logging and monitoring

Key components of an effective API governance strategy

An API strategy might have several different components, but these are three that the most effective ones share:

 

Centralization

One of the core purposes of an API governance strategy is that it empowers subsidiaries and other teams to adopt best practices and guidelines. To accomplish this, a governance strategy should have a central location where all automation tools, frameworks, guidelines and documents live so stakeholders can easily access them. Executives should also consider hiring a dedicated team responsible for handling tasks related to this central location.

Automation

Numerous aspects of the API lifecycle management process can be automated, including contracts, documentation and tracking. Automating core parts of their API strategy can help enterprises minimize the risk of making costly mistakes, make their management teams more efficient, and ultimately derive greater value from their APIs.

 
 

Tracking

Having an IT infrastructure consisting of dozens (even hundreds) of different APIs means it’s easy for some components to get lost or misused. Creating a system for tracking each API makes it easier to understand where every component is being used and reused, how they’re being used, as well as specific insights about each component. This information enables executives to make more informed decisions about the management of their APIs (and their broader strategy).

Lifecycle phases of API products

A core part of an API governance strategy is managing the lifecycle of APIs from beginning to end. APIs have a natural lifecycle and will eventually deprecate and need to be retired. Understanding the full cycle can help enterprises establish the right policies to minimize problems and increase benefits from monetization and new business models.

Here’s the standard 5-step lifecycle of most APIs:

Plan

Before actually building and implementing the API, every enterprise needs to take a close look at their business structure and identify key capabilities they would like their API to have. The resulting roadmap should include mockups and visual rendering of the API’s final intended design.

 
 

Develop

The API product is developed based on the schematics created during the planning stage. Many companies consider it vital to develop their API and bring it to market as soon as possible, so the success of the development phase will depend in large part on how detailed and thorough the roadmap is. It’s also important for developers to ensure that the API is easily consumable by external parties.

 

Test

It’s the enterprise’s responsibility to have a robust testing system in place to make sure that their API product is performing exactly the way it’s designed and intended to. Any functional issues during use could damage credibility in the eyes of end-users.

 
 

Deploy

The success of the API ultimately depends on how well it’s able to satisfy the needs of end-users, whether these are internal or external parties. Enterprises need to ensure they’re deploying their API to environments in which they are most likely to be discovered and consumed.

 

Retire

APIs reach the natural end of their lifecycle when systems no longer support the latest version of the existing API (or the API itself). API retirement needs to be handled appropriately and planned in advance, or else Enterprises run the risk of confusing and angering end-users. An announcement should be made as a part of the retirement process so that end-users are aware that it’s taking place.

Tailoring an API governance strategy to the enterprise

Ultimately, an API governance strategy needs to be personalized to the specific needs and circumstances of the enterprise to work effectively. At Torry Harris Integration Solutions, we’ve identified three key roles within an enterprise that need to be properly aligned when developing an API governance strategy. These are:

Beneficiaries

These are the groups inside the enterprise that are tasked with transforming the API into a business outcome. They’re responsible for demonstrating how the capabilities of the API can generate revenue for the enterprise (or benefit it in some other tangible way).

Enablers

The enablers are those that develop the product and “enable” the functioning of the API. They’re the ones who make periodic changes to back-end systems that ensure the API operates the way it’s intended to.

Catalysts

This group creates the conditions that allow the enablers to produce meaningful changes to the API. They work behind the scenes to empower and facilitate change, and they also play an important role in aligning the roadmaps of the beneficiaries and enablers, ensuring proper alignment across the entire enterprise.

An API governance strategy is key to an enterprise’s ability to create new business models, redefine business processes and enrich the customer experience. Torry Harris Integration Solutions is a trusted advisor to enterprises across the world, and we have the tools and skills you need to help realize your wider platform objectives.

Contact us today to get started.

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