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    What is API Management?

    API management helps organizations improve customer experience while maintaining data and security.

    by Andrew Williams

    Key Points

    • Organizations use API management platforms to guarantee internal and publicly available APIs are secure and fit for public usage.
    • While organizations are likely to have specific API management needs that vary dependent on requirements, each tool provides a unique combination of features.
    • API management enables organizations to build APIs that easily integrate legacy applications and improve customer experience while maintaining data and security. 
    • Mimecast API management services extend business and cyber resilience through easy integration with existing cybersecurity investments.

    API management is a key process in cyber resilience for organizations that build, publish, control, and analyze APIs. It aims to provide a secure environment to monitor usage and activity across the organization and the cloud, ensuring that the needs of the developer and the applications using the API are being met.

    Organizations can use an API management platform to guarantee that both internal and publicly available APIs are secure and fit for public usage, enabling rapid response to consumer demands and potential breaches. API management also enables easier version control, allowing organizations to implement continuous development without loss of service.

    The rise of API management services and tools reflects our growing reliance on APIs to stitch together a broad range of architectures. In turn, the abundance of APIs presents administrative complexities that are not easily dealt with manually, with each requiring comprehensive documentation, high levels of security, extensive testing, regular versioning, and high reliability.

    API management aims to streamline these processes by centralizing API analytics, protecting APIs from security threats, creating positive user experiences, and providing comprehensive documentation that optimizes the value of APIs for monetization and distribution. Together with a host of other benefits, API management tools deliver a secure environment that organizations can tailor to their specific requirements and deliver essential features that enhance the usability, compatibility, and resilience to cyberthreats.

    How do API Management Tools Work? 

    API tools and software form the backbone of API management systems, allowing for streamlined centralization of API programs. It promotes more efficient API design, deployment, and maintenance, combining automation and sandbox security testing to ensure documentation, availability, and compatibility are optimized.

    While organizations are likely to have specific API management needs that vary dependent on requirements, and each tool provides a unique combination of features, API software generally delivers core functions such as:

    • Automation — Allows the automation and control of connections between the API and the applications that implement it.
    • Consistency — Provides consistency and backward compatibility of multiple API versions and within varying implementations.
    • Monitoring — Enables comprehensive monitoring and analysis of traffic from individual apps.
    • Caching — Provides memory management and caching to improve performance and reliability.
    • Security — Permits tailor-made security procedures and policies to protect the API from misuse and other cybersecurity breaches.
    • Configuration — Allows for streamlined configuration of endpoints, load balancing, and fault tolerance.

    API tools, software, and services can be implemented in-house or accessed through third-party providers. This means that organizations can build their own bespoke suite of API tools that meet specific requirements or leverage API management platforms that combine the most effective tools into a single package.

    Commonly, API management platforms deliver tools that cover the following tasks: 

    • Design — API design tools allow both developers and partners to design, publish, and deploy APIs. In addition, they also enable streamlined documentation, security policy creation, usage limits, and runtime capabilities.
    • Gateway — API gateway tools act to enforce gatekeeping protocols for all APIs. These API tools enforce security policies and requests while also providing authorization.
    • Store — API store tools allow easy access to APIs for both internal and external stakeholders. This store, or catalog, can also act as a marketplace where users can subscribe, access support, and become part of the community.
    • Analytics — API analytics tools help users monitor and analyze API usage, load, transaction logs, historical data, and a broad range of other metrics. This helps security teams deal with potential threats and indicate the status and successes of individual APIs.

    What are API Management Benefits?

    Comprehensive API management offers plenty of benefits over less coordinated approaches. Generally speaking, it enables organizations to optimize their API offerings in a variety of ways. From delivering the ability to build and manage APIs in a way that allows the easy integration of legacy applications to the implementation of cloud services, API management helps organizations improve customer experience while maintaining data and security. 

    Build Applications and Integrations

    API management services and tools enhance an organization’s ability to build apps and integrations by consolidating everything needed to successfully implement APIs in one place. Developer portals, or community managers, provide a gateway to APIs for internal and external developers and enforce access control through subscriptions and contracts.

    In addition, design centers can be used to enhance design development, provide tools to build integration flows and connectors, and administer workflow customizations for increased agility when managing both apps and integrations. This ensures high levels of security and functionality can be in-built from the beginning.

    Finally, in combination, API tools allow simple yet comprehensive documentation creation that enhances both usability and security. Appropriate documentation remains an integral part of API development, and API platforms allow the centralization and flexible updating of this crucial puzzle piece. 

    Gain Access to Secure Ecosystems

    Protecting APIs from cybersecurity threats means protecting end-products from potential vulnerabilities, a huge task in today’s market that is dominated by both APIs and those who wish to exploit them. The secure ecosystems provided by API management platforms help security and development teams protect against security threats in a variety of ways.

    API gateways allow centralized security management that reduces the risk of threats and allows easier identification of vulnerabilities. Often integrated with API quotas and other gateway policies that, for example, define how many calls can be made within a certain period by developers, potential threats can be easily identified, and abuse can be cut short. 

    Additionally, insightful analytics and high-level visibility ensure that the management of the secure ecosystems created by API management platforms remains centralized at all stages of the life cycle. This allows for a birds-eye view of how the API is used and where it may be vulnerable. 

    Automate and Streamline Customer Account Management

    Automation is a key function of API management, and it generally comes in two flavors: imperative and declarative. Imperative automation is the process most commonly used on API management platforms, sharing a step-by-step approach already familiar to most developers.

    This type of automation allows easy control of connections of APIs and the apps that use them and allows faster creation, deleting, and updating of apps, amongst other functions. This ensures you can streamline customer account management by ensuring apps are always up-to-date and are being used correctly.

    Additionally, API management platforms allow the simple automation of a broad range of otherwise time-consuming tasks related to account management. This enables developers and SecOps teams to focus on improving other areas of your API systems. 

    Mimecast API Management Services 

    Mimecast API management services provide all of these features and more through a combination of its Tech Connect Ecosystem and API Develop Portal. Designed to extend business and cyber resilience through easy integration with existing cybersecurity investments, Mimecast API management services allow your SecOps team to concentrate on more important and pressing issues while your developers get on with improving your API offerings.

    For more information on how Mimecast can help your organization seamlessly integrate more effective API management into your existing infrastructure and enhance your security insights and management, contact us today.

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