API Management – The Platform

In my last blog entry, I introduced the concept of API Management and how this domain has evolved over the last decade to where it stands today. In this blog entry, I will focus on what are the key components of an API Management platform, what are the different deployment models for the API Platform and who are key players in this space.

What makes up an API Platform?

An API Platform needs to provide the following key components
• API Builder: Tools for providers to define create and configure an API.
• API Portal: User Interface platform for API providers to socialize APIs with the consumers to enable adoption.
• API Gateway: Manage controlled access to the API layer and protect the services from security threats.
• API Analytics: Provide insight into API usage – operational, technical and business metrics that can help API providers to customize and improves the services they provide.

API_2

API Platform – Deployment Models

The following table describes the three common deployment models that are available for an API Management  platform.

Gateway
  • A hardware appliance that the customer deploys on premises in the DMZ.
  • This model requires the customer to setup and manage the infrastructure but does give the customer more control and manageability.
  • This model would be more appealing to large enterprises that still prefer to control their overall infrastructure.
Cloud Based Proxy
  • A cloud service that intercepts all API tra­ffic and forwards it to the customer’s SOA infrastructure.
  • This is extremely easy for the customer to start with as it does not require any in-house setup and might be a preferred model for smaller organizations as they venture into the API space.
Software Plugin
  • A software solution that the customer integrates into their own code and deploys wherever their servers are – on premise or the cloud.

The Vendor Ecosystem

The recent Forrester report published on Feb 5th 2013, titled ‘API Management, Platforms – Q1 2013’ shows the key vendors who provide the leading platform for API Management today. Another vendor who did not participate in the Forrester survey but that is a strong player in this space is Apigee.

API_1

IBM’s API Management Platform [Cast Iron Web API Services] is a strong contender in this space and in my next blog entry I will focus on how to build an API using Cast Iron.

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